Katy and I had a brilliant day at the Free Verse Poetry book fair. Imagine you are a stamp collector and you went to a stamp collecting convention. A room full of people that share your peculiar passion. Well, that is what the book fair was for us. Hundreds of people who spend all their time wrangling words into the correct place. Pondering for hours about an adjective or a comma. Poetry geeks. It was heaven. Being able to screech in delight at a particular table that had an array of beautiful books was so much fun. Or chat to a friend who you usually only get to speak to online; finally meeting in real life was very satisfying. The whole room was full of enthusiastic, delighted people. Poetry is an unusual addiction, so it is good to be with like-minded people.
We read from our collaborative pamphlet, Inheritance, published by Mother’s Milk Books. I enjoyed writing with another poet; it created an excellent dialogue. I liked the tiny threads we picked up from each poem and the way that was woven into our own work. The garden cafe was a relaxed place to read and we had some great conversations after with members of the audience who enjoyed the poems.
I also enjoyed hearing V.Press poets Stephen Daniels and Nina Lewis (albeit briefly) reading in the garden and Silhouette Press poets, Jamie Thrasivoulou and Andrea Mbarushimana reading earlier in the day.
Strange maypole dancing picture at Much Wenlock art gallery (wish I had written down who painted it – I think it’s brilliant..please contact me if you know the artist, although I did notice the price was too high for me to buy it!)
On Saturday I went to Much Wenlock to attend a ‘Page to Performance’ workshop run by Hollie McNish. I had met Hollie at the Writing and Motherhood event that I chaired last summer at Ledbury Poetry Festival and I had been very impressed by her poems and the way she performed them. Witty, clever and emotional words combined with an almost gentle, conversational and embracing way of reading them. Hollie draws the audience in and they hang off every line.
The workshop was equally as good. There was emphasis on finding the mundane and everyday details to place within the poetic/descriptive language, to anchor it to something authentic. In pairs we studied the other person’s face in detail. Uncomfortable at first, yet it became a very freeing exercise and ultimately emotional as we listened to each others poems. At the end we exchanged the poems we had written so they became a gift to the other.
The workshop today was part of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. It was in the basement room of a pub and it was a gloomy venue, yet it made it atmospheric as we sat around a dark wooden table. Rosie Jackson wrote one of my very favourite pamphlets titled ‘What the Ground Holds’ so I was very keen to meet her in real life. You can read my review of Rosie’s pamphlet at Sabotage Reviews. The workshop had caught my eye in the programme because it was focused on creating poems from works of art. I studied art at college and like to paint and draw. I write poems and illustrate them and my poems often feel like paintings in my mind; as I describe the images I want them to be vivid in their colour, light and shadows. It was an excellent workshop and the final writing exercise came from us looking at two paintings from a large choice. We just picked two up without any thought and then had half an hour to write. My poem came out in a rush, it was a joy to write. Although it was full of animal/human shape-shifting…again.
Hare image: Sitting by Sophie Ryder 2009
Does anyone know who painted the horse picture please?