Sunday, November 27, 2011

Poets & Players: Nov 26th 2011 Whitworth Art Gallery

One really should check the website before one goes somewhere. The one poet who might have been of interest on the bill had to cancel. Not his fault; a family bereavement apparently.

One should also not go to places out of boredom on a dull Saturday afternoon; I had just done the washing and was probably not in the mood for what was basically an afternoon of 'nice' poetry.

First up was a young poet, Kim Moore, who is currently trying to finish her portfolio for a creative writing degree at Manchester Met. It showed, I'm afraid; but there was sort of nothing wrong with the poems. Nothing you could put your finger on at least; these poems were 'well-made': nicely crafted, full of nice observations and images. You may by now have detected the 'damning with faint praise' of that word 'nice'. One poem seemed to touch on the real world, which mentioned a memorial service for those killed by a mad gunner in Cumbria not so long ago. It wasn't a great poem but at least it seemed to have some reference to a world outside the poet's own head.

Next up, a poet who went to a lot of galleries and looked at a lot of pictures. Which is nice. Rita Ray did have one poem that stepped outside the nice ekphrastic world she likes to live in. It was a found poem, based on an early twentieth century phrase book for an African language, published by SPCK as an aid for missionairies in spreading the Gospel. It had wit, and a political awareness entirely lacking in any other poem of the reading, simply through the juxtaposition of phrases. Again, it was a poem that stepped out of the comfortable world of the poet and took us somewhere other.

Andrew Forster took us on a journey. Unfortunately, it was nowhere interesting. A poem about a childhood word and marbles; a poem about a train station in Scotland. Lots of neat images from South Yorkshire, Scotland and Cumbria. I can't remember anything else. I don't want to remember anything else.

Meanwhile, through the gallery window, I watched a man practising ball skills in the park; a car with sirens on it drove up the path slowly and then drove back again. The headlines in the paper were to do with strikes, Egyptian riots, the crisis in the Eurozone, there were people in curry houses in Rusholme having conversations, there was coffee in the coffee-shops.

The people in the room were quite interesting. I suspected there were a few Margo Leadbetters about. That would have made for an interesting study. But the poetry? No interest whatsover.

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