It's been busy of late.
Last weekend, I went as a workshop leader to Hebden Bridge for the first Writeoutloud Big Weekend. We stayed in a hostel, there were about 40 odd of us, and the nights didn't end until after 1am each night. But apart from that, it was a wonderful experience for me when I led a couple of workshops on experimental writing and managed to coax some experimental writing out of people who probably haven't come across it before, let alone tried it. The whole weekend took me back to my roots among community writing groups.
I started by introducing the theme, and the various elements that might make up "experimental writing." It's an odd term: it makes the writing sound a bit like it ought to wear a white coat. But the people who came to the workshops were eager to learn and to participate.
It's one of the problems with "experimental" writers that sometimes there is an unwillingness to explain in reasonably simple language just what you're doing. Of course, all simple explanations falsify to some extent, they're bound to; but one can explain oneself in simple terms as long as one points out that this is a provisional statement of where one is now.
It's already created some reaction on the writeoutloud.net page, with one poet posting his "experiments" and getting a mixed reaction from readers. Mixed reactions are probably a good thing. Better than indifference, at least.
Tuesday night, I went to the reading at the Anthony Burgess Centre with Maggie O'Sullivan, Allen Fisher and Jerome Rothenburg, followed by the launch of the 3rd volume of Poems for the Millenium, covering Romantic and Post-Romantic Poetries. I really enjoyed the first set of readings, especially Maggie, who's work used to befuddle me no end. Which just goes to show that one should always have an open mind. Poetry you think is beyond you can grow on you, get under your skin; and I loved the way she used the sounds of language, the parts of words, as acts of communication in themselves: communicating, not a message, but a feel of a message.
Jerome Rothenburg was also wonderful, though his reading was interupted by my having to go to the loo. Still, I made up for it later by letting him know of a bunch of Lancashire dialect poets of the cotton famine he hadn't heard of... The readings from the anthology were eye-opening - a wonderfully funny extract from Clare's letters about city folk thinking every bird they hear at night must be a nightingale, some of the extracts from late Holderlin, some Issa haiku that seemed to largely involve pissing and frogs...
It was a beautiful reading, and afterwards we went to Cocotoo's underneath the railway arches, which had a replica of the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo on its ceiling...