Last night’s Shindig at Wilde’s, Leamington Spa, turned out to be a great way to round off a weekend of writing.
It’s a lovely venue, for a start, which always makes a difference, but it’s the poetry that really matters. Myra Connell launched her new Nine Arches Press book, From The Boat (full review coming soon), and read beautifully. At one stage, she mentioned her interest in dreams, and the poems I enjoyed most were those in which you seem to flicker from wakefulness to a dream state. It’s subtly done – you never got the feeling that she was forcing the poems to go anywhere they weren’t meant to go, and yet they did go to some strange places.
The open mic readers were as consistently good as I can ever remember. Partly that was due to the fact that several of Luke Kennard’s students got up and read – he’s clearly teaching them well – but there were fine poems from elsewhere too. Always nice to hear people read someone else’s poems at an open mic, too, so I enjoyed both Simon Turner and George Ttoouli’s stints.
I was pretty happy with my own set, just after the interval – just one slight stumble! It was largely made up of newish poems (well, post-Troy Town, anyway), and it’s always nice to see what response they get. Pretty good, on last night’s evidence, which is encouraging.
I’ve heard Luke Kennard read before, and the same thing strikes me every time – above all, he never forgets that poetry is there to be enjoyed. That’s not to say that there isn’t a great deal of depth to his poetry – there is, and it bears repeated reading or listening – but he’s always thoroughly entertaining (how can you not like someone who orders a bottle of wine mid-set, can’t find enough change, and downsizes to a glass?).
He’s doing a book with Nine Arches early next year, but in the meantime, I’ll be going back to his Salt collections. He’s engagingly modest about the many laurels heaped upon him, but they’re really thoroughly deserved.
I had a chance to talk to Jane Commane and Matt Nunn about my own second collection, due to come out through Nine Arches late this year. It’s all starting to come together well, and I’m busy trying to finish a few poems and revise a few more this week. We talked about possible titles, too. I’ve got one in mind, which Jane pointed out sounded rather like it ought to be an album by The Fall – never a bad thing, in my book.
What else? Well, Under The Radar 5 is out, with poems by the likes of David Morley, Rupert Loydell, Claire Crowther, Mark Goodwin and Sophie Mayer, as well as Myra Connell. I’ve enjoyed reading the reviews, too – Matt Nunn’s thoughtful assessment of Tony Williams’ book is excellent, and Jane Holland is good on HappenStance chapbooks by Alison Brackenbury, Rose Cook and Sally Festing.
Oh, and finally, my set list:
The sea at Ashby de la Zouch
Prelude for Glass Harmonica
The Memory Of Water
The American version
Fantasia for Glass Harmonica
Worst Case Scenario