Chester has an organisation of poets. Most had printed off running order and had timed their sets to perfection. The venue was perfect for poetry and the only issue was a change of lighting which meant the poet was either blinded or in almost darkness. It was mainly a page poetry event. (I am thinking of going back over my blogs posts of the year and in a massive summing up naming what a group of poets would be in each town in my experience). Angela Topping: wrote “The missing volume” with one day’s notice. I loved the Dr Who poems. John Pertwee was with her in puberty. “Levis, lace and scent”. “No TARDIS to travel back to myself” is a beautiful description of puberty!. https://angelatopping.wordpress.com/ Katy Konrad Poet: was the first poet on the tour who attempted to rhyme Quiet Compere premiere with anything and chose “derriere”. Made me smile. I enjoyed her cosmetics to cosmetic surgery poem. Particularly “thighs sculpted. Confidence catapulted.” Your Bloodlines poem was stunning. “No longer a donor and no longer afraid of Dr Who. He protected them and made them brave.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/katykonrad Edwin Stockdale: “Salt-water footprints” and “I peer at the brittle glitter of stars and my heart aches.” The apparent perfection in “Jane takes the night air” was potent. “A manicured house, a perfect life in a mirage.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/edwinstockdale Jan Dean: from her description of birth as “the trick of clotting cell soup into ravelled flesh.” we take a swift leap through time to “now you are tall and the Living Room is full of legs.” I am always won over by an incantation of train and bus-stops. The everdayness of the stop names and the fact they become unnoticed to those who live there and exotic or scary to those who don’t. http://www.jandean.co.uk/ Christopher Coey: “Geography is greater on foot.” “We had covered more than miles on the scale of who we are.” Loved his delicate rhythm and rhyme. “We are the show. It does add up. Just not how we ever thought it would.” Universal themes delivered with ease and style, appearing effortless, yet so considered. https://www.facebook.com/AmpWirral/posts/576921439009084 David J Costello: took volume and made it about DNA. “Tutoring tunes” and “stubborn anthems” and the in the MRI poems the shock of “a mildewed void the size and shape of me.” and in the scans “I saw the darkest workings of myself.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidjcostello Maureen Weldon: poems stuffed with sounds “listen to the wind, observe the sun” “the bump, flump, bump of the waves.” Midnight Robin launched in November. http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk/members/maureenweldon.shtml Jake Campbell: The language in the “Siegfried Sassoon” poem looped around me and pulled me into the set.” The dog on the cliff poem was heart-ripping. “Cliff-side to a denim sky.” “He hopes never to be forced to carry a child this way.” Loved the variety in your set. Match poem “between Helly Hansen jackets and syllables that smell of Grolsch.” http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/author/c/jake-campbell-7440/definitions-of-distance-1/ Jim Bennett: Performed an accomplished and varied set incorporating both page and performance poetry. Gill McEvoy: described an “ochre stubble” of grass. Her rape poem was stunning and difficult “inside its boundary I have pared myself to the bone. ” Also her deep remission poem was incredibly honest and raw. http://www.cinnamonpress.com/the-plucking-shed/ I didn’t write a specific poem while I was in Chester, but as it was a few days after Halloween will include the one below, to pull us back to Halloween and away from Christmas that is still a month away. Only one date left of tour of North in 2014. Three notes and a black screen. The amber glow of ritual. Our lights off, candles lit to fan the wings of fear within. The 5/4 time of a synth playing 3 notes and a black screen invested with menace. Even the first time. The familiar pumpkin moving closer with candlelit intensity until we are inside the carved eye. Yellow font flashes red with threat. We know Michael is coming.
I have had a couple of comments by audience at other venues that none of the poets rhyme and they would have been content with the number of poets who rhymed and rhymed well, without strife/life and rain/pain making any kind of appearance within couplets! Steve Fairclough’s first volume poem was called “Reference Red” and set in a library. He also read a second one called “Woofers and Tweeters”. An excellent title and a poem about those people who turn up their volume to fill a room, or more often for me, a tram! He ended the set with a tryst in a library poem. His set could have all been based on volume and he wasn’t the last poet to achieve this feat in Lancaster. http://www.steve-fairclough.co.uk/apps/blog Erfan Daliri: was the first poet on the tour who has managed to fill their ten minutes with one poem. Everyone IS looking for a place “where they no longer have to shoot down stars to fulfil their heart’s desires.” “Love will be the smile we give away for free.” and the line “they drink so they don’t have to cry.” Heart-breakingly honest. http://erfandaliri.com/ Rich Davenport: I love the Blue Gnu Haiku and when he “caused a palaver in a brown balaclava”. http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/richdavenport Trev Meaney:. I love your Just for Men poem too! Poem about chicken with a disclaimer. “No chickens harmed in this poem”. Not a veggie in the room when asked. I imagine the number of hands in the air at a Chorlton event would have been much higher! http://trevormeaney.co.uk/ Jennifer Copley: She fell in love with a word. Beautiful. The volume of feathers worked well “untroubled, white”. http://www.jennifercopley.co.uk/ Ashley Lister: More clever rhyming here. Erotic fiction. Wakes some up and shocks others. Ashley kindly agreed to fill in for Lisa Bower who could not make the event. http://www.ashleylister.co.uk/ Pauline Keith’s slaughterhouse collection was well-balanced and provided a different tone to the evening, full of variety. She thought she had no volume in there, but I heard: “Distance silenced all sound but the wind” and we could also count the volume of animals passing through the slaughter-house. http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/paulinekeithpage.html Ian Seed: I loved “Sometimes a city is shown its own reflection in the sky.” http://www.chester.ac.uk/departments/english/staff/academic-staff/dr-ian-seed Elizabeth Burns: Austerity and the decadence of “fresh grapes and flowers in winter” by those “fuelled by love”. and from her Wuthering Height poem: “transmute them, lace them with honesty and cream.” I loved the Icarus poem. Especially the line “then the fine onion-skin of her dictionaries will turn to wings” http://www.elizabethburnspoetry.co.uk/ Rachel McGladdery: Her whole set had a volume theme! “Syruped by sun slant and felt like almost joy”. After the Old Dungeon Ghyll was a poem about a folk night. It started: ”night is a moist blanket which we leave to dry and creep in through the crawlspace to a hum a hive of smoke and sweat and song.” “yaddering drumming” “Deafened by the thrum of silence”. This poem drips volume. She finished the night on a high note. http://writeoutloud.net/profiles/rachelmcgladdery My learning curve: Don’t mix performance and page quite to this extent. I think the order of the poets was part of the problem with the night not hanging together as well as other events. One issue with this is working out what type of set poets intend to perform. Some poets are so versatile they perform comedy sets, out-and-out performance sets and more reflective quieter sets depending on the day. I don’t want to be prescriptive, but I may ask poets vaguely what style they are going to perform in next year so I can balance the running order better. A cancellation on the morning meant I did not get to check out one poet’s material and work out where to fit him among the other ten. I arrived at venue quarter of an hour before the event started and Big Char lie Poet and Colin Davies had kindly laid the room out. I make a rule of arriving at any venue a couple of hours before the event to address any issues I may not know about until seeing the space and the light, etc. On this occasion I had to work Sunday afternoon before traveling to Lancaster and time was unavoidably tight! Next year I will book holiday well in advance and do everything possible to see the venue two hours before the event. Also, I am going to enlist local poet/promoter/venue liaison from one of the performers of each event, with it being a national tour. Poem The poem below partly came about because of Rich Davenport’s Blue Gnu haiku: Seasonal Affective Disorder If I was a wasp. Found myself in November I’d sting everything.