I've been busy this weekend. First, with a party for the Lib Dems in Colne Valley, where I helped a friend's campaign (she didn't get elected.) It's the first time I voted for the Lib Dems in a General Election - since the invasion of Iraq, I've not believed a word that Blair said. I think he's basically under the spell of Bush.
Then I went to Accrington, stayed with Mum and went for a drink with my sister. The Crown is an Accrington Stanley club - which is fun, and makes a difference from it being either City or United. It's funny I never got into football, really - I didn't even watch the Liverpool match. Dad was never into it, of course, but maybe I ought to have got into it as part of my teen rebellion phase, the way I got into born-again religion? Maybe I'd been happier with sex, drugs and rock'n'roll though than the kind of religion that thinks having a libido is in itself sinful...
I've just found out about the Cambridge Poetry Summit, a weekend of poetry among the dreaming spires. I might just go down there. I think it's important to expose myself to all kinds of poetry, and this is going to be full of the avant-garde stuff that is informing more of my recent poetry than anything else. It might be a chance to meet people too, and talk poetry on a different (not neccessarily higher) level. I'd prefer it to the Hay Festival, frankly - less star names and fawning I suspect.
The text festival in Bury has already made a difference to me artistically; I won't suddenly become a visual poet a la Bob Cobbing, but I think it's helped me to have a go at more adventurous things, and be more happy with doing things in a less strightforward manner. When I started reading and writing poetry, my models were inevitably the ones down in the local library. As Accrington is only a small library, the choice was small: Larkin, McGough, Elizabeth Jennings and a few others. It was only when I found the poetry section of Manchester University Library that I found out that you could write more adventurously. It's only when we open ourselves out to outside influences that we can develop; but also those openings have to be there. I'm lucky that I found Ashbery in the shelves, alongside John Ash and others. Maybe if I'd have done the usual Eng Lit degree instead of Theology, I'd have stayed with the usual post-Movement fare.
IN PRAISE OF ELISABETH MOSS
4 days ago