Saturday, October 08, 2005

Manchester Poetry Festival

I'm doing only ten minutes in it myself - at a performance evening on Monday at Trof in Fallowfield. It's called Verberate. Be there or be square.

But I did go to the launch of Citizen 32, a magazine with a political agenda and lots of poetry in it. It's the usual left-wing stuff, of course; but from what I can tell, quite reasonable in quality. Of the guests reading on the night, Helen Clare was good as usual, and Todd Swift was too, more political than he was at Manchester Central Library, and Aoife Mannix whose work is new to me was a really good performer. There were people from the magazine reading too, including Geraldine Green and Cath Nichol. A good event, apart from the openers. You know you're going to be cringing when a group of poets call themselves the "Wylde Women Poets." Oh dear. Well, they weren't as bad as that sounds. But it's the kind of self-conscious supposed transgressiveness of that title that makes me cringe - like some boring accountant type telling you they're "crazy". Just because you can neck ten pints of lager in an occassional evening of "letting yourself go" doesn't make you crazy, and calling yourself "wylde" doesn't make you any less middle-class and dull. Sorry. Try again.

I don't believe in dressing up to be wild. I suspect all the best poets are wild inside; they have things burning to be said, and nothing they ever do quite says it. They're not wild for an audience. And they don't misspell words to sound "crazee" either.

Anyway, enough of that. I also saw the great Pat Winslow give a storming reading from her latest book. Had I some money on me at the time I would have bought it. Todd Swift said that all the best poets in the country are not well-known enough, and this is surely the case with Pat. Passionate, humane, sometimes funny sometimes serious, and always immaculately controlled. Beautiful.

4 comments:

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IRISH POETS said...

I think I know who Geraldine Green is. Does she talk filth and carry a brolly?

If it's the one I'm thinking of she has a rather sexually explicit register and comes across as borderline loony; not that there's anything wrong with that.

Steven Waling said...

I think, dear Irish, you're thinking of someone else. She carried no brolly. But she was a poet, so the borderline loony is probably not far off, as we all are I suspect...

IRISH POETS said...

You are right, it's not who I was thinking of. I saw a picture of her and realised my mistake. I would imagine that being a "loony" poet would carry a bit of kudos if you marketed it right, and there are plenty of precendents in the connection between madness and poetry. Pound, Lowell, Plath and the like.