Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Salt Winter Poetry Party etc

I had a terrific time at the Salt winter Party at Foyles last Thursday. Firstly, it was great to meet poets who I've admired for ages like David Grubb and John Hartley Williams. Secondly, it was great to meet and have a drink with that fine poet and controversialist, Jane Holland. It was even more amazing to actually meet Chris, after talking to him on the phone & e-mail corresponding so much. I got to meet my publisher!

The venue was slightly awkward - long rows of seats - but there were 200 people there to hear me read (next to last - the curse of having a name that at the back of the alphabet!) and I read two sonnets from the collection. I think there were some terrific writers there - Peter Jaegar and Sandra Tappenden among the poets, for instance. Gavin Salerie - who I met once at Geraldine Monk's party - said he liked my poems, which was a boost. It means so much more to me than if Andrew Motion had said he liked my poems. Though really I'd like everyone to like my stuff. I'm that shallow.

But I had a good time in London - and found a nice cheap place to eat in Old Compton Street in Soho - the Stockpot. Reasonable to good food, not showy, very quick turnaround and pleasant atmosphere. I went to Tate Modern, and was pleasantly surprised that a room full of Surrealist art had pictures by Tristram Hillier, Eileen Agar, Roland Penrose and Ithell Colloqhun as well as the usual names. English surrealism was often thought of in the past as not as good as the greats of the continent but I think it stands up very well.

I spent some time in the Poetry Library on the South Bank, discovering a terrific Nicholas Moore poem called Meaningless Gesture, that I must type up here soon.

On the Sunday, after having stopped off Saturday at Whatton, I was back in Manchester, and went to another poetry event, at Fuel in Withington. Well, there was some good stuff: John G Hall and Micheal Wilson in particular seemed to have real energy and above, a real love of language and what it can do. But Change Kunde was dispensing Good Advice when she wasn't trying to be terribly rude (God, how I hate that British seaside postcard innuendo about sex!), Matt Panesh was all shouty and un-PC in a terribly tired way, and there was so much obvious rhyme I wanted to scream. Oh, and Gordon Zola, who would have been a scream in music-hall in 1907, but just seems so old hat now.

The Salt event was great, because even when you weren't terribly turned on by what you heard (as I wasn't by a couple) at least you were aware that the writers were crafting their work, and weren't just in love with the sound of their own voices (you couldn't always hear them, in fact: bad sound system.)


Andrew Bailey said...

I was there! It was good to hear you read, after my having read this blog for a good while. You can add me to Gavin Selerie - and don't we all want everyone onside?


Jane Holland said...

Controversial? Moi?

It was good to share a jar with you too, Steven. And to take away your book, packed with thoughtful, dry, well-crafted poems. Your personality comes across in them very strongly. As I said, I'm giving it to my husband for Christmas (it won't leave the house, never fear!) because I just know he would enjoy your work - and he rarely enjoys anyone's poetry, so that's a great compliment!

Anthony Sides said...

Sir, you insult music hall.

Jane Holland said...

My husband really enjoyed Travelator, btw. I'm good at gauging his tastes and your book was perfect. I enjoyed it too, and thought your voice comes across perfectly - i.e. the poems are highly individual in tone and skilfully phrased/weighted for that personality to come through - though it didn't blow switches in my head, which is about the only thing that makes me put a book on my These Poets are Gods list.

I'm a difficult reader to please, so it's a very, very short list - though I do seem to be adding a new name to it each year now. Keats is there. Ginsberg is there. Hughes is there. Plath. Robertson. Oswald's 'Dart'. Logue's 'War Music'. Erm ...

Matt Panesh said...

you cheeky twat!

Matt Panesh said...