Monday, 14 November 2011

Derwent Poetry Festival - some thoughts

I was only able to pop into the festival on Saturday afternoon, but I had enough time to see readings by Christopher James, Kathleen Jones, Clive Allen, Susanne Ehrhardt and Jo Bell, as well as to buy a couple more of Templar's beautifully produced books (Clive's collection Violets, and the 2011 anthology, Bliss), and chat with Wayne Burrows and Roy Marshall.

I'm pushed for time, so I won't attempt any genuine review of the readings (they were excellent, though). But here's three thoughts that occurred to me...

1 Introducing one of his poems, To Read The Relationship between the Residents and the Surfers in Newquay, Clive mentioned that he had never surfed, or been to Newquay, but that he saw no reason why that should stand in the way of him writing the poem. Increasingly, that's how I feel. Not that there's anything wrong with facts finding their way into a poem sometimes, but it probably gets a bit overdone, and we probably all know the feeling you get where you try to cram all that research into the poem. Far better to wing it now and then, I think.

2 St Guthlac seems to find his way into contemporary English poetry more than any of his fellow saints, and should be declared the patron saint of English poetry forthwith. He cropped up in one of Christopher James' poems (a really fine one about fen-skaters), I've seen him mentioned in another within the last few weeks, he cropped up in Tom Chivers' How To Build A City, and he was in one of my poems in Troy Town (which, alarmingly, I've completely forgotten the title of, and I haven't got it to hand to check). Guthlac spent a large part of his life as a hermit on the fen island of Crowland, driven half-mad by the isolation, hunger, the ague, the effects of eating hallucinogenic plants, and regular visits from a whole tribe of demons. You can decide for yourself whether that makes him more or less suitable for the post.

3  Clive Allen also, in the introduction to another poem, described poetry as "a complicated way of being ignored". That might be my current favourite definition of poetry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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