I’ve had a week of poetry-related things on this week. On Saurday April 27th it was the Poets and Players event. This was the first
event in our temporary exile from the Whitworth Art Gallery pending refurbishment. Rachida Madani and Marilyn Hacker undertook a bilingual reading from Madani’s collection ‘The Severed Head’ and Hacker read from her collection ‘Essays on Departure’. Jane Lawrence was the ‘player’, providing European folk music from her fiddle. It was a good afternoon, brilliant performances, small but appreciative audience.
On Sunday I was writing some poetry of my own. I recently read Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’ and was struck by what a wishy-washy heroine she was compared with Emily’s Cathy Earnshaw or Charlotte’s Jane Eyre; so that gives you a clue to the content of the poem I was working on! I took the afternoon off to watch Mancester United draw 1.1 at the Emirates in a lacklustre performance: probably still on a come-down from winning the Premiership.
On Tuesday evening it was our April meeting of the East Manchester and Tameside Stanza. Three of the members planned writing activities for this session, and we enjoyed the reading of some of our favourite published poems, including an extract from Sharon Olds’ wonderful ‘Stag’s Leap’ and a couple of Simon Armitage classics. I love this Stanza group, such enthusiastic people, such poetry lovers, and such fun to be around!
Wednesday, May Day. I chaired the Saddleworth Writers Group this afternoon. Being May Day we had a go at some May-related acrostics. Given that all the writers in this group are not poets, we had some pleasing, funny results. We also discussed the production of a group anthology we are hoping to get off the ground. Thanks to Oldham Libraries for the offer of £100 funding towards this.
On Thursday I had a meeting in Stalybridge, at the Tameside Radio studio. I was contacted by David Peek a couple of weeks ago to ask if the Stanza group would be interested in doing live readings on the local radio station three times a week. Of course we agreed. To save us from having to turn up three times a week, he has agreed to long-term-loan us a Zoom digital voice recorder so that we can pre-record a set of poems for him to choose to broadcast on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays we are retaining the live broadcast. The meeting on Thursday was to collect the recording device and have a quick tutorial on using it. I contacted Tameside Libraries and they have agreed to let us have a quiet room for recording on Thursday afternoons. This is free of charge as we are a Tameside group, which is a good thing, because we don’t have any money! I’ve offered the group’s services to organise a series of poetry readings in Tameside Libraries in return. Watch this space. Tameside Radio is on 103.6 FM and our readings go out at about 12.15 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
On Saturday I went to the Poetry Business Writing Day in Sheffield with the Sansoms and Michael Laskey. Lovely to meet up with some poet friends: David Borrott, Kim Moore, Liz Venn. Always a good day, and as usual I came home with several ideas for poems. When I got home I had a rejection slip from The North, with lovely things to say about the poems I sent, thanks, but not thanks! Oh well. My current ambition is to have a poem published in The North, so nothing daunted, I’ll keep submitting until I die trying or they give in and accept one! I had a review in The North in Issue 49, but I’ll consider myself a poet when I get a poem in there. Are you listening, Peter?
So that’s my week in a large nutshell. Speaking of nuts, I filled up the bird feeder this week. I have a tit nesting box with a camera in the roof, linked to my conservatory telly. It (the nesting box not the telly!) was a Christmas gift from my daughter, Amie, a couple of years ago. We had a great tit roosting in there most of last year, but though she took in some cursory bits of nesting material, she didn’t finish building and didn’t get round to laying eggs. This week a pair of great tits started serious building in the nest box, and one of them is lodging overnight. I’m hoping this year they will get down to the serious business of evolution and raise a brood. Fingers crossed.