Evening everybody! I’m writing this from the finish line of my poetry marathon weekend, accompanied by the lovely Ben Johnson, who in fact had a poem on the blog a couple of weeks ago. Ben was visiting all the way from the New Forest to take part in my self designed poetry marathon – he obviously didn’t get enough poetry in Fermoy when we were there a month or so ago. Ben got stuck in traffic on Friday, but by 7pm and after 7 hours or so of driving managed to reach Barrow, having conquered the M6. We took part in ‘Culture Night’ in Fermoy, via Skype – unfortunately we had started on the second bottle of red wine by the time it was our turn, and apparently, my house was too dark for the audience in Fermoy to actually see us – this was despite me running round the house with the laptop trying out various rooms, live to the audience. Thank god the cleaner had come earlier that day that is all I can say. I should explain we have a cleaner because the hubby is very tidy, and I am not – without our cleaner I doubt we would be married! Anyway, I digress. So we managed to skype successfully and held a torch pointing at each other as we read as a home made spotlight which worked beautifully, even if I do say so myself! It was great fun (for us anyway – not sure what Fermoy made of it!) and it was nice to see my favourite Dutch, Texan and Irish poets reading as well.
On the Saturday, we got up fairly early, had breakfast and then set off to Manchester in Felicity (my little car) to meet Rachel Davies for lunch ( who has also had a poem on the blog – I was slightly hung over, but steak and chips at Cafe Rouge sorted that out. Then we went off to Poets and Players http://poetsandplayers.co/ at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester to see Jane Yeh and an amazing cello and violin player who were also performing. I would highly recommend Poets and Players – it used to be at the Whitworth Gallery but they are having to move around a bit at the minute as the Whitworth is being refurbished -so do check the website. The strength of the event lies in the excellent quality and variety of poets that they book and they also have strong links with the Royal Northern College of Music which means they always have wonderful musicians. Rachel was the MC for the event – it was great – I bought Jane Yeh’s first collection (I’ve got her second) and then we had to skidaddle back up to Ulverston for Poem and A Pint – this time with Rachel in tow, who also for some strange reason wanted to be part of the poetry hardcore marathon.
I was very paranoid about being late as I was MC and that just Would Not Have Done. But we were in plenty of time – arrived by 6.45 and by 6.55 all the floor spots for the open mics had been taken – in record speed! There was a small part of the evening at the beginning when we thought we had lost Maitreyabandhu, our guest poet, somewhere on the northern rail service. However, he was just delayed, so it all turned out ok. I think it was one of the best Poem and a Pint nights ever – we had an absolutely packed audience – I think we did actually run out of chairs.
Me, Ben, Rachel and the hubby then went out for a curry, as we hadn’t factored in time to eat in between getting from Manchester to Ulverston. And that brings us up to today, Sunday when we got up early again and drove over to Wakefield to go to a Poetry Business workshop (www.poetrybusiness.co.uk) at the Wakefield Literature Festival (http://www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk/) run by lovely Peter and Ann Sansom. I really enjoyed the workshop and although I haven’t looked at my notebook I think I’ve got maybe one or two things I can be working on. Straight after the workshop there was a reading with Cathy Benson,Simon Currie, River Wolton and Geoff Hattersley. I tried out some new, slightly dark poems which was a good, if nerve racking experience for me. I loved Geoff Hattersley’s poetry and bought his latest pamphlet from Smith/Doorstop.
And now, I’m sat typing this – I got back from Wakefield at about 10.00pm – so I’m a bit shattered. But today’s Sunday Poem is so good that it has to go up tonight (even if I fall asleep dribbling on my laptop!)
Today’s poem is by Mike De Placido who I met at Albert Poets in Huddersfield a few weeks ago. He did a very funny set – he has a very dry sense of humour which I really like, but his poems can also be poignant and moving. He is a poet based in North Yorkshire and used to be a professional footballer. His debut pamphlet of poetry ‘Theatre of Dreams’ was published by Smith/doorstop in 2009, but this poem is from his brand new collection ‘A Sixty Watt Las Vegas’ which has just come out with Valley Press
This poem is one of a set of three poems about meeting famous people that Mike has in ‘Sixty Watts’ – one is about meeting T S Eliot, one is about meeting Ted Hughes and the one I’ve chosen is about meeting Simon Armitage. Mike made lots of people laugh out loud when he read it at the Albert. It is also interesting to note that although this poem is very funny (especially if you know Simon Armitage) it does assume a level of knowledge from the reader. These are poems soaked with literary culture, as well as popular culture, and I think their relaxed tone may somehow hide the fact that there is a lot of reading standing behind these poems.
Here is the website if you would like to order Mike’s book. Which I would recommend – it is dry, funny and I read it in one sitting, cover to cover, without stopping!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem.
Meeting Simon by Mike Di Placido –
The Oak rooms, Byram Arcade, Huddersfield; 13th June 2008
We were getting on famously ’till I started to choke –
too many fluffy nibbles and not enough tea.
It’s Italian, I croaked as he queried my surname,
but I don’t usually sound like the Godfather!
Thank God he laughed (even if he didn’t mean it)
adding (and perhaps it was the pin stripe)
that I did have a look of the Al Pacino
about me. This I took as a compliment
and not some marker of perceived threat.
Then he was gone, Time to melt into
the Huddersfield air, he said, poetically,
leaving me wondering if he ever took a night off
and if I’d upset him somehow? Pictured him
padding up the darkening lane to Station Street,
nervously checking over his shoulder
as he made his way back to his golden life.