Monday, October 10, 2005

This weekend

Good grief - less than a week and I'm back again!

Well, I had an interesting week. I've been doing some workshops with recovering drug addicts at a centre here in Manchester. I really enjoy it - and I hope even if it's only for a bit that the people me and Tony are writing with manage to escape for awhile. There's also a lot of stories in what they're doing; and I sometimes wonder if I don't prefer working with these people than with ordinary writers. They do have something to write about, and can be a lot more imaginative than they think they are. But there's often the same problem: "I can't write." By this, they often mean they can't spell, or use good grammar.

Well, good grammar doesn't make a good writer. It helps with presentation; but being able to spell imagination doesn't mean you've got one, and not being able to do good grammar doesn't mean you haven't got a story to tell. A story or a poem or any piece of imaginative writing doesn't become better if it's written in complete sentences; in fact, sometimes, it sounds more interesting if it's more fractured, more basic than sentences.

I like doing practical workshops where I get people writing. But I went to one on Saturday at the Whitworth Art Gallery around the photographs of Thomas Joshua Cooper. We seemed to spend an awful lot of time talking about writing, looking at a William Carlos Williams poem and an article on "ekphrasis" (writing about paintings, basically) and precious little time actually writing. I'd have preferred more time writing; but then I'm not doing much at the moment. There is a need to think about writing, perhaps; but I wanted to write. I went with Fran, and I think she agreed.

I also went to the closing party of the last ever poetry festival in Manchester. Next year it will become a "literature festival." I'm sorry if I sound cynical about this, but does this mean we're going to get some bloody soap star promoting their biography, or the latest Booker prize winner touting their ever-so shiny fiction? Methinks it's being taken over by the bums-on-seats brigade and we'll get all the usual fluff and hype. I hope I'm wrong about this.


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