I’ve had another brilliant week!
On Monday night it was the monthly meeting of Spelks, a group of poetry loving friends. We meet regularly at each others’ houses to share ideas for writing opportunities and to share our poetry. This week we met at Hilary’s house. I thought there might be home baking, but Hilary’s mum is in hospital so home baking was a task too far. But there were lovely crystal ginger biscuits covered with dark chocolate, so they came a close second. Keith set the activity this time, an opportunity for ekphrastic poetry. No, I didn’t know either, but it is writing stimulated by another artform and it can be descriptive or imaginative. He sent us some postcards of Stacey Manton’s art work depicting people in various states of ‘outsiderness’. It was a fantastic activity. I don’t normally write from art work because I don’t let my imagination fly far enough, but this time I made up backstories for three women sitting on a bench, and for a man lying on the pavement propped up against a wall. He looked like the father of someone I taught once, in my other life before poetry. We all brought some good work to share; some poignant, some sad, some funny. Hilary wrote about the four of us eating chips from the paper after the Armitage workshops last week, called it ‘Stacey Manton’s Missing Picture’, which was brilliant.
On Tuesday evening it was the Poets and Players planning meeting at Jeffrey Wainwright’s flat. We are planning next year’s programme and competition on a tight budget. If you see these advertised, please come to events and enter the competition. The events are high quality poetry and music events. For instance, on Saturday 19th October we have Michael Symmons Roberts (fresh on the heels of his Forward Prize) and Michael Schmidt reading, along with saxophonist Nat Birchall who pays tribute to the spiritual jazz of the 1960s and 1970s with his uplifting music. He will be playing with his band including pianist Adam Fairhall, drummer Paul Hession, bassist Dave Kane and percussionist Corey Mwamba. And all this for a free entry, no need to book. St Peter’s Church, Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester. If you’re in the area, you’d be daft to miss it!
On Friday I was doing a live broadcast of my ekphrastic poem ‘Bookends’ (the one about the women on the bench) on Tameside Radio. I run the East Manchester and Tameside Stanza and since May this year we have had regular readings on David Peek’s Midday Mix show. However, sad news on that front: David Peek is being made redundant in about three weeks, so the poetry broadcasts might well come to an end. It’s been good coverage for the stanza, and good experience for our members. Thank you David for your support of poetry and good luck in the future.
On Friday evening I was reading at Ilkley Litfest with the East Lancs and Pennine Stanza. This stanza is run by Theresa Robson and Jo Harding, and Theresa arranged the reading at the Literature Festival. The event was called ‘The Family Skeleton’ and involved poems about family and the most famous of Yorks literary families, the Brontes. It was held at the Wildman Theatre at the Ilkley Playhouse. This is the Litfest’s fortieth year and we were all give great wodges of chocolate birthday cake with dark purple icing (much nicer than it sounds!) to celebrate. The readings were fantastic, the small audience appreciative. It was a good experience for aspiring poets, thank you Theresa and the Litfest team.
On my way to Ilkley, I had a call from my daughter, Amie. Her fiance was in Colne checking out a ‘Harry Cat’: Harry is her British Shorthair Blue and I love him so much. My own cat, Manjo, was killed on the road in May and there has been a Manjo shaped hole in my life ever since. So, Angus was checking out a ‘Harry Cat’ replacement for us. When we left the reading I had a text from Amie to say he had got the cat and ‘he is a stunner!’ So 11.30 p.m. saw us visiting my daughter to meet my stunning new British Shorthair. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at her house to find they had got us two, one each! One is a peach, blue and white tortoiseshell and one a spotted silver tabby, a female and a male. They are indeed stunning, both of them. We have called him Jimbo and her Rosie. I think I’m in love again!