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Readings, readings …

March 5, 2014

In the past eight days I’ve read aloud in London, Bath, Wells and Bristol.

In London, the prize-giving for this year’s Magma competitions was held last Tuesday at Keats House in Hampstead. Prizewinners in the Editors’ Prize (for poems of 12 lines or fewer) were invited to read, in addition to their own poem, another short poem that might have inspired them. As it happens, my poem was written in response to one that BeauĀ  sent a year ago, so for me the choice was easy. Magma is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and interesting poetry magazines around, and I was thrilled to have my work included in issue 58.

In Bath on Friday I took part in a reading of recent work by poets included in last year’s anthology “The Listening Walk”. We had a lovely audience, still attentive at the end of five hours of poetry! Also in Bath, on Saturday, we had a read-through of the collaboratively-written dramatisation of the Greek myth of Actaeon, followed by auditions, followed by intensive rehearsal under the guidance of our four drama advisors, followed by a first public performance that was very well received by our small but discerning audience. Both these events were master-minded in her own inimitable way by Sue Boyle of the Bath Poetry Cafe.

In Wells on Monday the Fountain Poets had their March meeting, with several contributions on the theme “What’s cooking?” I worked for a few months in a wine-bar in Liverpool in the late 1970s. It was not a good place for anyone of a nervous disposition. There was always pressure. There were the drunks and the gangsters. Worst of all, there was the chef.

Beware of the Chef

Words spilt in anger
no use crying over
what won’t go back in the bottle

A voice to sharpen knives
cool in their steel case
know them by their gleam

Cleaver and carver
boning and filleting
honed to cut flesh

Threats ricochet
across the kitchen
hush before the crash

And today, March 5th, I took part in a reading in Bristol to mark the seventh anniversary of the bombing of the street of booksellers in Baghdad. Sarah Bodman of the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England had planned the ambitious project of reading the entire anthology “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” in a day. Many readers contributed during the course of the day, and the task was completed by 6pm. It was good to hear these poems and essays read aloud, one after another, and I noticed connections between them that I had missed before. It was a privilege to be part of this very special event.

Stop press! This link has just arrived – a BBC interview with Hassan Abdulrazzak which was filmed just a few hours ago.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen young permalink
    March 6, 2014 8:21 am

    Bravo – you are star! X

  2. March 7, 2014 11:00 pm

    Or a show-off! Thanks anyway, Karen.

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