Next Saturday I’ll be reading some poetry from the First World War (therefore not my own!) at the Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury along with some of my fellow members of Metroland Poets.
I’m due to be reading at 1,30pm and 2.30pm (there’s another, later, reading at 3.30pm).
The poems I’m due to read are:
Recruiting by E A Mackintosh;
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W. B. Yeats;
and The General and Base Details, both by Siegfried Sassoon.
It’s all free and it marks with the end of an exhibition about the First World War, which tells the story of the war viewed from a local perspective and by local figures, including the war artist, John Nash (whose First World War painting, The Cornfield, I have on my wall and a figure whom Kim reveres in my novel).
Here’s a very quick and timely post — showing that I’m still updating the blog despite only having posted once in June. (I’m furiously — and that’s probably a very apt word — trying to edit the novel into a state where I can send it to agents. But it’s a slow process and difficult to fit in with The Day Job and, more happily, the many diversions I end up spending time on through being in London during the week. (Of which perhaps more in other posts.)
Here’s something I visited one lunchtime this week — Poetry Parnassus. It’s part of the cultural Olympiad and is billed as the ‘UK’s largest gathering of world poets’ — in fact it’s said to be the biggest poetry festival ever in this country. It’s all organised by the South Bank Centre — and there’s plenty of information on their website.
There talks and readings by many famous poets, which is all of great interest to someone like myself, who’s dabbled in poetry writing enough to have had some published and be a member of a poetry group (Metroland Poets).
I particularly liked the quirky events held outside the Royal Festival Hall which try to inject a bit of humour into the precious and worthy image that often is unfairly associated with poetry.
Above is a photo of the Poetry Takeaway — a trailer designed to equate poetry with the sort of greasy kebabs that are sold to hungry, drunk customers from vans late at night in badly-lit car parks. The ‘customer’ queues to place an ‘order’ with one of the three poets ‘serving’ in the van (who can just about be made out in the photo). The poet (and they are relatively well-known poets) takes a bit of information about the person and what subject they’d ordered and the customer turns up an hour or so later to be served with a reading of their personalised poem. All great fun and completely free.
Sadly I had to get back to the office before I could order my takeaway.
There’s also a Poems on the Underground themed tent (see photo below) cleverly designed like a tube train (not quite convincing enough to believe it’s the real thing — unlike those at Village Underground, which are genuine). I didn’t go in the tent but apparently it holds workshops and events.
I went for a run past the Royal Festival Hall a day later and the Poetry Ambulance had arrived on the scene — no photos of this unfortunately — but it’s 60s vintage ambulance of the type you see on TV programmes like Heartbeat. It’s manned by poetic paramedics who will perform life-saving emergency treatment to sick poems — so any blocked bards should get along to the South Bank.
Poetry Parnassus finishes tomorrow on the 1st July — I’d recommend anyone with an interest to go along and join in. If the rest of the cultural Olympiad events are as innovative and humorous as the Poetry Takeaway then we should be in for a good summer (culturally at least, if notÂ meteorologically).
Don’t forget, anyone who happens to be near High Wycombe this lunchtime, that I’m going to be reading six poems (of my own) at the Metroland Poets reading at the Oak Room in the Swan Theatre at 1pm. Free entry too — what a bargain.
In the environmentally friendly spirit of recyling I re-used some of the novel extract I sent out to the writing class to create a poem to be workshopped when I went to Metroland poets on Friday evening. This was the first poem I’d read and it was quite favourably received. One poet said it made him feel disgusted, which I think was a compliment!
The day yields to the glow
thrown by vibrant, violent lettering,
lurid ribbons of plastic fascia.
Aromas of frying fat saturate
the air, oozing from the slick
of takeaways greasing the road
to the car factory.
Shards of compacted meat
weep from the window rotisserie.
Betelgeuse burns on a concrete post.