Quiet Compere 2015 Review of the Year (1/4) – Part 1 – Durham, Oxford and Norwich and an apology to Exeter and Manchester 52 gatherings for no blogs

Firstly, an apology to the poets at both 52 gatherings I organised around the tour dates. I fully intended to write in-depth reviews of these events, but life and other poetry admin got solidly in the way, to a point when it felt like an after-thought. I loved every minute of the Manchester gathering at The Lloyds and the Exeter gathering at The City Gate from the moment Jinny Fisher arrived with a smudge of berry on her new jumper (and proceeded to pour almost a full cup of coffee down her pale tan trousers). Check out the tour video and pledge or share to support Quiet Compere 2016 here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016 Three dates on the 2015 tour were sold out – a couple were small venues and brought their own character and became like an eleventh performer (twelfth if you count the compere!). Durham – A wash of poets The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham was a very cosy space and for the size of audience we were with I was torn between feeling the audience had an exclusivity due to the fact only 40 could attend that event and thinking it was possibly a bit uncomfortable for a two hour poetry event where only half of the audience could be seated. I was comfortable cross-legged on the floor, but I know this is not ideal for everyone. My poetry highlights: Ira Lightman’s dating poems. Ira had become a friend at the beginning of the 2014 tour in a Manchester pub for two hours the day before my first gig away from home in York. He provided much needed distraction and we have stayed in touch since then. I had never seen him perform live until Durham though. Jessica Wortley’s poems from As if we were the trees. Everyone one stunning. With lines like, ‘for her, the width of the sky would never quite be big enough’ and ‘the wind would steal her breath,/ but it would not matter,/ for she would not need words’. I had forgotten about this and it will now be added to my Christmas wish list. http://rubywolfpress.com/authors-2/ My non-poetry highlights: Staying with Judi Sutherland and Big Frank. Main memories involve a massive cheese toastie when we got back from the event and bolognese and wine before I caught the train back. The line that stuck with me: ‘To touch the cache in the dark of you’ (Michael Brown) is a line that grabbed me from and keeps returning. Oxford – a milling of poets Dennis of the Albion Beatnik Bookshop was welcoming and obviously used to running this type of event. I checked where the venue was in the afternoon so I wouldn’t get there late and then totally mistrusted my sense of direction and followed Google walking Maps on my phone which took me to the Pitts River Museum (which was shut) rather than to the venue. I arrived to find half the poets happily milling around in their natural habitat. My poetry highlights: Ben Parker: The magical poem about ‘fashioning your searching hand into an approximation of the lost object’ and ‘the way to hold your hands for love’ was potent. Hearing Samir Guglani read a poetry set: ‘Look at how we start, like fortune-tellers, at the hands. Here by the window, where ward meets world, I examine this man’s, turn them over like found leaves.” Samir Guglani is the curator of the incredible and stunning conference, Medicine Unboxed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_Unboxed I have seen him mastermind this four times, but had only seen him perform one or two poems of his own. It was good to see him outside the Medicine Unboxed mania and relaxed. My non-poetry highlights: So many poets going on afterwards for snacks or meals somewhere local and at least half of us onto a bar until late. Meaning I could share the poetry buzz I often while away on Facebook or looking through feedback forms with a mini bottle of Prosecco in a basic B and B room. Also, Sarah Bryson brought me a small glass vase with wild flowers as a gift. As I was traveling back by train I decided to leave flowers around Oxford on the way home the next day. So I left a rose on a bike, some cow parsley in a phone box and weaved cornflowers through the railings of a disused toilet. The lines that stuck with me: ‘The house is dragged apart by the absence of your smiles.’ Claire Trevien ‘Wealth hopes us into a corner.’ Hilda Sheehan ‘Peat and iodine burn of a single malt drunk from an antique flask’ Alan Buckley Norwich – A ‘variousness’ of poets (I know it is a variety, but I prefer this!) I knew very few poets in Norwich and Julia Webb pointed me the way of most of the poets I found and told me a bit about them all. I attempted to book as a varied a line-up as I could and succeeded. Every poet in the Norwich line-up had a different style, approach and theme. Kept the audience engaged and I thought there were only three types of poet until that night made me reassess my thinking. My poetry highlights: I loved Ramona Herdman’s drink poems: ‘You look like you know the way out of the weight of the world.’ More drink theme from Julia Webb: “You are on fire. You have accidently swallowed the sun… you could drink an ocean. You settle for a double vodka. The Sun approves.” And as well as being an excellent co-host Rufus Lunn gave us The Sentinel: “I swear by sword, or word or kiss. I will stand. Still.” My non-poetry highlights: Finding out the local chippy delivered to the pub The Bird Cage and meeting Rufus (co-host and Robbie (tech)) before the event. A short wander in the lane. I will be back. However, it is not somewhere you can easily find yourself by mistake from Manchester! The lines that stuck with me: “sheets of newspaper cartwheeling to mishap.” Richard Lambert. “I embrace the deeper parts of my unravelling.” Bimble Bee, Huni Bee. “It behaved like any wounded thing.” From Stuart Charlesworth’s medical set. The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’  

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