Living it

I sometimes think my life would be empty without poetry. What did I fill up on before I discovered it? Oh, yes. Work.

I’ve just survived another week full of words, so I’ll share it with you.

On Tuesday evening, it was the East Manchester and Tameside Stanza, a group I co-ordinate. We meet on the last Tuesday of the month at Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar to celebrate poetry. This week we did a close reading of Lucy Burnett’s poem ‘A Rainbow Will Equivocate’ from her collection Leaf Grafitti. It always amazes me how many interpretations there can be of one poem. It just shows that the reader also brings something to the creative process. We had a writing exercise based on a Jane Yeh poem, ‘The Birds’ from The Ninjas: that wonderful way she has of combining the factual with the bizarre! Some good poems germinated. We welcomed three new members this week too. A year ago we were featured on Ruth Padel’s Poetry Workshop on BBC R4 and our numbers soared after that, settling back in the summer to the old originals, so it was good to have new poets attending. Next time, Bryony is going to lead the writing exercise, which should be interesting. Her style of poetry is experimental. I’m looking forward to trying out something different.

On Wednesday I went with some friends to Nantwich Poets. The first part of the evening was devoted to a reading by Andrew Rudd, followed by a verse drama by Joy Winkler: Town. How good was that, Joy reciting her work with all its characterisations, and Andrew Rudd providing atmospheric background music on keyboard and hand-held percussion? Town is touring Cheshire at the moment. If you get chance to go and see it you must, it’s not to be missed. I loved it. I loved it so much I bought the script despite promising not to buy any more poetry books this century!

The second half of the evening was an open mic session at which I and my friends read. I tried out some new poems on the audience, poems that I have written since I came back from Greece a fortnight ago. Always good to have a chance to try out new work. It was a lovely evening all round, and I met up with lots of old friends from our MMU Writing School days.

On Saturday I was off to Wakefield Orangery again with poetry friends. We went for the Versions of the North readings. Ian Parks introduced poets who read from the anthology. It was another good event celebrating the diverse poetry of Yorkshire.  But I’d like to remind Ian that ‘the North’ isn’t exclusively synonymous with ‘Yorkshire’. There is a lot more to the north than contained in the White Rose county. There are some tremendous poets from Lancs, Cumbria, Northumberland, not to mention over the border into Scotland. Perhaps we should have an anthology that celebrates the true north; all of it.

We went to explore Wakefield after the readings and I was surprised at what a nice city it is: a lovely Cathedral (although there was a service on when we got there so we didn’t go in); it looks very light and airy from an eye pressed up to the door, though! I bought a new teapot in the British Heart Foundation shop to replace the lidless one I was using at home. And I bought a new wok to replace the sticking non-stick one that I have woked to death. So all round, a good day.

Must rush, I’m off to Wakefield again this evening to see/hear John Cooper Clarke. I’ve admired his poetry for years so I hope he doesn’t disappoint. I’ll report next week.

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