It’s a cat’s life

My lovely kittens, Jimbo and Rosie are keeping me busy. They are little eating and pooing machines! They are so inquisitive, into everything. Rosie got stuck behind the kitchen skirting board last week: we didn’t even know there was a hole she could get through. I’ve found them in the dishwasher as well: always check now before I switch on. We took them to the vet for a check up and were given worming tablets. Oh my, I love giving tablets to cats! However, these two are gold medallists in the eating event, so I crushed the tablets into a small amount of food. Gone in a flash! 

On the poetry scene, I’ve been busy too. On Saturday 18th October it was the Poets and Players/Manchester Litfest event at St Peter’s Church in Ancoats, Manchester. Music from Nat Birchall and Friends and poetry readings from Michael Symmons Roberts and Michael Schmidt. What a lovely venue St Peter’s is: it’s the practice venue for the Halle, and the musicians had the benefit of a beautiful Steinway grand piano that we wouldn’t have enjoyed had we been at our usual venue in the Whitworth Gallery. We were lucky to have booked Michael Symmons Roberts prior to his collection ‘Drysalter‘ winning the Forward Prize for Best Collection, so it felt like a bit of a coup having him read for us so soon after the announcement of his win. Well deserved win, too. I bought it before it was famous; I remember sitting in the park in Fermoy on a Sunday morning in August, enjoying quiet time and reading it. I have recommended it to so many people. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? I got Michael to sign my copy to add to my collection of autographed books. A delightful afternoon all round.

Both Michaels read beautifully: Symmons Roberts so assured and calm. A master class in reading to an audience. Schmidt was entertaining and I was pleased to see he was quite nervous; not because I take any delight in anyone being nervous, I’m not a sadist. But it sort of makes me feel better that I get nervous when I read to an audience too. I’m learning all the time.

On Tuesday I went to Rachel Mann’s house. Rachel is a poetry friend I met when we were both doing the MA Creative Writing at MMU. Last year we worked together on a project based in Manchester Cathedral, where Rach is Poet in Residence. My East Manchester and Tameside Stanza have written and recorded poems based on sites in the Cathedral. They will be recorded onto  Q card technology for visitors to the Cathedral to download and listen to/read as they walk around the Church. The recordings are being done by Andrew at North West Sound Archive who gives his time free of charge as long as he gets to keep a copy of the recordings. He drove down to record the poems with the group in July in Ashton-u-Lyne library, but the traffic noise from outside was intrusive (I’m being polite!). I met with Rach this week to listen to the recordings and the upshot is that most of them will have to be re-recorded in studio conditions at NWSA headquarters in Clitheroe Castle. Last time I went there (with Rach to set up the project) I slipped on a wet paving slab and fractured my right humerus right up near the shoulder. Andrew  said he would appreciate it if I would wear crampons when in go back in November!

Lastly, I have been asked to be one of a group of six past MMU MA graduates to work with composers from the Royal Northern College of Music to collaborate on a piece of work for the Richard Strauss festival next year. We poets are to write poems based on Strauss songs, inspiration can come from the music or the lyrics, in German or translation. We have been paired with a composer from RNCM who will set the poems to music and they will be performed at the Bridgewater Hall (main auditorium!) in February. The song I’m working from is ‘Sehnsucht’, a melancholy song about longing and love. I’ve made a start. We have to have our poems ready for a poets workshop at MMU on 12th November. Exciting stuff.

Oops, must go, Jimbo’s just knocked my marble solitaire off the speaker and marbles are rolling around the living room floor. It’s the best fun he’s had for at least an hour!

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