Kendal Review

The Brewery Arts Centre The venue was spectacular and massive. I found every time I left the studio I was in a different art gallery, bar or an entrance to another event. Though the space was impressive the lay-out of seating was a bit strange with seats on three sides to the walls. Ann made a very good point of asking people to turn to audience in both directions when they were performing if they could.   Ann Wilson is a poetic force in Kendal and had met most of the performers before. She was chatty form and was an excellent hostess. She also sported a Quiet Compere T-shirt – THEY HAVE ARRIVED! I am sure Verbalise is a popular night and has a regular following and am happy to have shared the audience. As well as her fine, if not quiet, compere skills, her poetry was smashing. I loved the fact that she taught us mini bagpipes are called chanters –   The audience were so respectfully silent I felt I had to pause to enjoy the tension a couple of times in the night.   The evening kicked off with Geraldine Green and she started her set with a poem by Jane, whose farm we were staying on. A fitting tribute, as Jane was at the farm looking after new-born tups and gimmers (lambs). Geraldine told us about temping and dreaming of being smuggled from the offices. Here is the link to Salt Road: Susan Deer Cloud followed with a poem about lilting language. She is touring the UK and tasting every new accent she encounters. Kim Moore surprised laughter from me with her rant about Brass Band students: She was putting a curse on the parents of these children that would: “involve marching and outdoors and coldness”. Norman Hadley stood in at short notice for Marvin Cheeseman and I was delighted to hear some of the 52 poems performed live. Fresh bread and “Hills my father gave me” were well-crafted and delivered with skill. Sarah Miller cheered every time anyone mentioned Barrow. I loved hearing “Ginny Green-teeth” in this venue. Nick Pemberton’s Manchester accent felt like a hug from home. The phrase that stays is: “You visit me like a taste on the lips or the seed of a smile”. Josephine Dickinson  moved the audience with her storming performance including a “bowl of threads to unravel in the maze”. A piece about walking with her husband for the first and last time was incredibly moving. Polly Atkin made me want to be at the Heavenly Bodies launch. Every poem I have heard from this anthology of constellations has captivated me. Every poem Polly read had this effect too. “Storms were our horses” and “tonight we are full with species of madness” were lines that stood out. Mark Mace Smith. I captured his sideways “Can I get away with this? Well I’m going to do it anyway!” look on camera before his naughty poem. “Recklessly-earned adrenalin” and “Belief tastes like now”.   Jane’s Farm   – Kendal Poem  Grass is greener on this side of the limestone wall, the breeze-teased fringes shimmer wet sunlight.   Straw is spun by the wind’s fingers into knotted fleece of Shetland wool and the results are golden   Lambs are numbered an emerald 1,2,3,4 and move like they are learning to dance.   Swallows enjoy the wind too much to land. Cows have passports but don’t want to leave.   Kendal in General The Kendal trip was extended and I revelled in the fact I had more time in the place and with the people. I was hoping to arrive in time to go to The Refreshment Room of Brief Encounter on Carnforth Station. It closed before I arrived so I went straight to Oxenholme Station and was two hours early. I met a talkative woman in the café and we shared anecdotes as we both have young children and liked Take That when we were younger. Before I had even been collected from the station, I had met a guy who knew the village I grew up in so well he remembered the names of the pubs. Jane picked me up and drove me to her farm where I met Geraldine Green, she was immediately so warm and open, as Facebook conversations had suggested she would be. By the time Susan and John had found their way to the cottage, Geraldine and I were so comfortable with each other that Susan assumed we were old friends. It’s wonderful when meeting someone is that easy. We all went to Jingling Lane for Chippy in Kirkby Lonsdale and walk to Ruskin’s View over the River Lune. By the end of this time we had bonded over Dandelion and Burdock, travelling tales and the sharing of the last portion of mushy peas. This is feeling like a diary entry. Wondering whether my blog would be easier to read if I treat it as such with headings so people can choose which bits they may want to read and it will all sound like juts having a chat or a letter from me. We returned to Jane’s Farm, where the expectant sheep had not yet birthed. We drank tea around the wood-burner and retired early.   Saturday, Geraldine and I were wandering around the farm when attendees for the workshop began to arrive. One of the lambs birthed and the six of us who were wandering converged on the mother and her two gimmers and a tup. All were well and the lambs were already starting to walk. On returning inside the phone was ringing. Geraldine answered it, more at home than me and took an order for ½ a lamb from town. Geraldine ran a morning workshop and plenty of excellent pieces were produced. I enjoyed the volume rising as this group of poets who meet every month or two shared stories of mishaps, successes and family. Listening to a phrase or two from each conversation, then switching. I wrote a piece about a horse drinking all the water from Earth (no idea where this came from – not like me at all). Maybe it was the influence of Geraldine and Susan!   We had a tea of lamb hot-pot, for someone who was vegetarian for several years and would never eat baby animals until a couple of years ago, this was quite a leap from watching new lambs born (and learning their names) to having an order put in for one within ten minutes, to eating a lamb hot-pot made with the lambs who were on this farm less than three weeks ago.   We went to our rooms to dress in evening wear and John heard the lambs shouting and alerted Jane. She ran to the barn and found one of the lambs had a cowl over its face and was not breathing. She resuscitated it and stayed behind to hand-feed it from a bottle. Another set of triplets had been born. Geraldine read one of Jane’s poems from The North out.   Learning points:
  1. Running over. All apart from two ran over! Ann said they are used to being there for the night once they arrive and not to worry if night runs over. I am very keen to stick to time, as I think two hour event is long enough to expect people to concentrate and ten o’ clock is late enough finish, it ended up being ten thirty finish. Ann did lengthier introductions and I wasn’t sure in Ann’s half if she was still expecting me time or not, or just not bothering with timings.
  1. Concern our break may clash with Lee Evans’ break. Check out other events in venue beforehand.
  1. Anywhere I can extend the visit a little, even to early on the day before or to stay with poets over-night. Much warmer and less of a wrench when it was over.
  1. Someone at the Birmingham event mentioned exit flyering to me. Something I will consider asking venues to do for future events.

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