I've been putting together a new collection recently - writing furiously, in fact. At least six new poems in a couple of months. I've also been reading in some unusual places - a launderette in West Didsbury, for instance, as well as in the usual pub venues. I also performed as part of a jazz/poetry trio in the Didsbury Arts Festival - that was great, as for the first time in my fifty years on this planet, I felt like I was in a band! Anyone who grew up in the last half of the 20th century probably has that ambition stitched into their skin-tight genes (sic)!
The collection, by the way, is coming from Alec Newman's Knives Forks & Spoons Press, which is also publishing the first collection by Simon Rennie, fellow Arranite and runner of poetry events. It's going to be called Captured Yes, and contains quite a few poems inspired by reading the late Barbara Guest. I have several of her collections, but I've also been sneaking into the bookshop reading the monumental Collected Poems, which came out from Wesleyan earlier this year. It's £30 so I can't afford (though if anyone wants a review, they could send it to me...) She is the missing side of the New York Poets pentagram for many people, and if you've missed out on her, go and check her out! She has a luminous depth, and possesses that serious sense of humour that all the NY poets have that punctures pomposity but isn't frivolous.
I'm also reading Elizabeth Baines' new novel Too Many Magpies, but I'm taking my time over it, because although like all good novels, it makes you want to read it, it's more reflective than most, and I want to take my time over it. It's available from Salt, by the way, as of course, is my book, which is still available if you haven't already got it (there, Chris, I'm doing my selling bit for you...;) )
I went to the Other Room and saw Craig Dworkin's film of himself reading, and Micheal Haslam. Haslam was great, wonderfully animated and powerful reading. I can't see myself rushing out to buy Craig Dworkin, though I enjoyed his New York slang version of Beowulf. He only read 100 lines of it, which is probably enough. The rest of his reading was not really to my taste; but it was good to experience it.
During the literature festival, I went to see Ruth Padel read from her Darwin book, which was very good. I also went to see four Buddhist poets at the Buddhist Centre on Thomas Street. That was OK - a bit too mainstream for me - except for one multiple-voiced poem about an abandoned asylum.
So I've been busy.
The Winner of the 8th Fortnight Poetry Prize is...
10 hours ago