It occurred to me in a moment of madness this morning how there is always somewhere a little corner of show-biz, the end-of-the-pier show, the TV variety show, in the arts world of Britain. Dominic Berry's performance as the master-of-ceremonies yesterday was one such example. As someone who finds all the bigging up Manchester somewhat embarrassing, I can't say I felt entirely comfortable with his performance, but that's not his fault. I used to cringe at the TV when Bruce Forsyth came on too (still do, come to think of it.)
What of the poets themselves? A mixed bunch, a gallimaufry, a Woolworths assortment of voices from surprisingly imaginative poems from old ladies to more dramatic performance poetry. Not all of it worked, and once or twice I wanted to say "cut the beginning," or "cut the end"; if the poetry was anything it was rather downbeat than upbeat, which might reflect the mood of the country. The age range was very wide, and the subject matter too, from Rosie Garland talking of cancer to poems about clubbing and a couple of rather rude poems which were subtly effective.
Apart from anything else, it was a kind evening. Everyone seemed to be listening and no-one was talking over the readers. Everybody who read got on, gave their reading and got off with great efficiency. Considering the panic beforehand about the number of readers, a surprising number of people read. It was a very inclusive evening.
As I am in the book, I perhaps ought to give some reflections on the book, but that will have to wait.
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