I've been pretty busy of lot, and not had that much to say. I don't think I have much going on in my head beyond the usual stuff about identity, anyway. I've been reading a few interesting people - a new Salt collection from Chris McCabe called The Hutton Inquiry, which has some interesting takes on the contemporary scene, for instance. Then there's Geraldine Monk's latest from West House, The Escafeld Hangings. She just gets better and better.
I've also been reading a lot online of Landis Everson, a poet publishing his first book in his early 80's. He'd given up writing for forty-odd years when he lost contact with the poetic community that nurtured him (basically, the Jack Spicer group round Berkley and San Francisco), but then he was contacted by someone who remembered his name and started writing again. The new poems are open, generous, meditative reflections on the past, on friendships and on the quotidian details of his life. A little Frank O'Hara, perhaps, and charming.
But it's interesting, what would I have been like without the poetic friendships and encounters I've had over the years? I came to Manchester in 1980 from a small town in North-East Lancashire called Accrington. I was under the influence of Ted Hughes at the time, and the local library supplied me with a few interesting books, mainly Movement-y poets like Larkin and Elizabeth Jennings. I'd got every book of Sylvia Plath's, and Lowell's poems were in there too.
Then I came to Manchester, discovered O'Hara, Ashbery and co, started going to writing groups (I'd gone to one in Blackburn though) and Manchester Poets group, and here I am years later, this strange half-Modernist creature you see before you. C'est la vie! Had I stayed at the accountants in Accrington, I might have had more money, but would I have given up poetry? What's the point of writing if you don't have an audience? Anyone out there still listening?
The winner of the 7th Fortnight Prize is....
2 weeks ago