Wednesday 21 March 2007

Updated list of readers for student reading at The George

Sue Boyle
Sally Carr
Sue Chadd
Ellie Evans
Stewart Foster
Donald Gibson
Zoe Howarth
Richard Lambert
Helen Pizzey
Rebecca Preston
Emily Reb
Lynette Rees
Sebastian Rigler
Mark Sayers
Andrew Turner
Tom Weir
Ros Weston
John Wheway

...and more to come!

Monday 19 March 2007

Gala student reading, 26 May

I proposed a reading by my Poetry School seminar students for the Bristol Poetry Festival, only to learn that they'd have to be vouched for by a "promoter" to be considered. Only I and one student can obtain such a reference, so I'll have to let it go for now.

Wanting to give those students a showcase for their work, and feeling that I'd been unusually fortunate this year in the quality of my students for both The Poetry School and Bath Spa, I've arranged with The George in Bradford on Avon to hold a reading on the evening of Saturday, 26 May. So far, I've had confirmations from Donald Gibson, Richard Lambert, Ros Weston, and John Wheway, and expect many more by Saturday, when I'll have seen all the students again (those are heavy weeks, when I'm teaching all four groups--Poetry School Opportunities of Form, Poetry School seminar, Bath Spa Sudden Prose, and Bath Spa MA poetry workshop).

Updates to follow in due course!

Wednesday 14 March 2007

The Moderator

Last week, as part of the Bath Literature Festival, I served as the moderator for a "Poets in Conversation" event with Tim Liardet and Gerard Woodward at the Victoria Art Gallery. The venue, with the current Keith Vaughan exhibition all around us, provided a pleasant and intimate atmosphere. As moderator, I felt it important to do two things: to keep the conversation rolling and interesting; and to provide useful introductions to each author's work, to guide the audience when they heard the poems read. With Tim it was easy--he always has something to say, but with Gerard, I was glad I was prepared, e.g. when he said he hadn't thought about masculinity much in reference to his poetry (and let it stop there), I told him how I saw it working in his poem "Norfolk." I mention this not to compliment myself; it's just that I've seen panels badly moderated often enough to know how to avoid the same.

I am pleased with how my introductions turned out, so I'll include them here:

"Gerard Woodward has published a trilogy of novels, the last installment of which, Curious Earth, was launched just last week. He has published four books of poetry, and the most recent, We Were Pedestrians, was shortlisted for the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize.

"In each poem in We Were Pedestrians, the opening lines plunge us into a new predicament. The style spare, the narrator regarding his situation with both care and aesthetic detachment, the poems proceed slowly, carefully, toward unexpected, convincing conclusions. The poems do not celebrate the ordinary so much as appreciate it for itself, for its commonness and hence its claim on our lives. His style reminds me of the work of Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, in that in both their works, the apparent effortlessness evinces the authors' delicate, self-effacing skill."

"Tim Liardet has published five collected of poetry, to critical acclaim. His most recent, The Blood Choir, won an Arts Council England Writer's Award in 2003 and was shortlisted for the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize.

"Where Gerard's style is spare, Tim's is lushly analytical, in the density of description used to apprehend the world, part by part. The Blood Choir presents poet as anthropologist, interpreting an alien culture by describing behaviour and environment in meticulous, exquisite detail. Importantly given the book's focus on prisoners, the narrator understands his relation to his subjects in a way that does not privilege his own position or viewpoint, but tries to appreciate theirs through the nuances of a common language."

After the event, it occurred to me that moderating is like reviewing: sometimes tedious, sometimes onerous in preparation, it's a real pleasure once the work is properly underway.

Thursday 1 March 2007

Okay, I found something stranger....

This is what happens when I search my name on Google to see if someone's reviewed a magazine and mentioned my work, if someone's posted a poem of mine on her website, etc.

At what appears to be a Hungarian language school, there is a competition to translate various poems from English into Hungarian, and one of the three is my prose poem from New Writing 14, "Drought"! What's perhaps stranger (yes, this one just builds) are the two other poems people can choose from: a Roald Dahl poem, "The Tummy Beast," and "Choosing Names," author unknown, about God naming the animals. The competition details are here.

I think that's all the Googling I can take for today.

I never thought I'd be compared with Carol Ann Duffy, but

In the online book review Book Munch, Claire Mapletoft, complaining generally about the poetry in New Writing 14, writes, "There are some real belters here however, for example Carola Luther's Possessions and Carrie Etter's Divorce, reminiscent of an early Carol Ann Duffy."

I suppose stranger things have happened....