Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

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Hello everybody!  Just to let you all know that I didn’t fall into the sea in Aldeburgh, but in fact made it safely back to Barrow, if slightly the worse for wear through a slight indulgence of red wine on the last night.  I wanted to blog when I got back and post a poem on the Monday instead of the Sunday – but…but….for the last three days I’ve been hanging on to my usual life by my fingernails basically – as in, I’ve gone to work, got home, ate, slept, got up, gone to work, ate, slept – you get the picture.  Who knew poetry could be so exhausting?  But in a completely good way of course.   Rather than recount everything that happened because I would be here all day – I thought I would do a list of the good things about Aldeburgh

1.  My accommodation – what can I say?  34 Lee Road, run by Pete and Sue is the nicest place I’ve stayed in.  Nothing was too much trouble for them and the room was beautiful.  And did I mention I had a JACUZZI!! I would highly recommend http://www.aldeburgh-bedandbreakfast.co.uk/

2. Organisation – Naomi Jaffa, Dean Parkin, David Edwards and their committee and team of volunteers seemed to have thought of everything.  I got picked up and dropped off at the station, they organised my train tickets and my accommodation, I got paid at the festival, events ran on time and all the volunteers and event stewards seemed to be in a really good mood and enjoying themselves.  There were buses to ferry people back and forth from Aldeburgh to Snape.  I really do think that the festival team should be put in charge of running the NHS or the country or something –

3. The Book Stall.  Now this does need a whole bullet point of its own.  The book stall had books from every poet performing at the festival.   I have counted up my list of books that I bought at the festival – 13!

4.  The Poets – There was only two poets that I had seen perform before at the festival – Robin Robertson and Alison Brackenbury.  The rest I’d never heard read – which as regular followers of this blog will know is pretty unusual as I go to a lot of poetry readings.  There were lots of international poets there and it was a highlight of the festival for me.  I also met some wonderful people who I feel like I’ll be friends with forever now – and met some old friends and acquaintances who I haven’t seen for a while

5.  Readings and Talks.  I knew I’d enjoy doing my reading, because I love doing readings – but people were so nice to me afterwards – I sold around 50 wolves – it was a wonderful feeling.  I was also doing two discussion events – a ‘Close Reading’ where I had to take a poem that I like and talk about it – and  a ‘Blind Criticism’ which I wasn’t too nervous about because I couldn’t control that.  But I was nervous about the Close Reading because I’d never done anything like it before.  Going to Robert Wrigley’s close reading didn’t help – his was as rhythmical as a poem!  I stayed up till 2am refining my talk the night before after going to a couple of Close Readings by other people and getting some tips.  Again, people were really kind afterwards and I feel more confident about doing something like it again.  All kudos to the festival for taking a punt on me and giving me the opportunity to do something like that – I really feel like I’ve developed as a poet through doing it – I discovered things about the poem through doing it (For the Sleepwalkers by Edward Hirsch) and I’m very grateful for the experience.

6. Michael Laskey’s Workshop On the Sunday morning, encouraged by Peter Sansom, I turned up to Michael Laskey’s workshop, thinking there wouldn’t be many people there so early after a whole day and evening of poetry the night before.  How wrong I was!  I reckon there must have been fifty people crammed into the Peter Pears gallery – there was such a buzz when I walked in – yes, you guessed it, I nearly did a little star jump.  It was only 45 minutes but I think we did four or five exercises and everyone was happy and enthusiastic and in a good mood – it was great.

7. Walking to Thorpeness along the beach on Friday 8. The stars at 1am walking back to my accommodation on Sunday night So it can’t all have been perfect, I hear you say.  Well – the only thing that did annoy me at the festival was that there were events running concurrently and I wanted to be in two places at once and I obviously couldn’t.  Sometimes I missed things because I had to eat.  That’s not the festival’s fault though.  I am dreading the podcast interview that I did with the other pamphlet poets straight after the reading, because I was quite hyper and I think I was talking a load of old rubbish.  We will see – again, not really the festival’s fault though – more me getting way too excited!

Tomorrow I am reading at Lauderdale House in London with Maitreyabandhu and Tom Lowenstein http://www.lauderdalehouse.co.uk/page.asp?ID=1367&PID=13&PVID=1546 so I am back in London!  I’m running a workshop on Friday for poetry group ‘Malika’s Kitchen’ and then I’m returning to Barrow on Saturday for ‘A Poem and A Pint’.  This time our guest poet is Judy Brown, the Wordsworth Trust’s Poet in Residence, so I hope to see some of you there, or in London or maybe Lancaster the week after…

You can find John Field’s official Aldeburgh Poetry Festival blog here: http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/FestBlog/festblog-main/

but here he has blogged about the pamphlet poets reading and said lots of nice things http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/festblog/festblog-article/pamphlet-power/

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4 responses »

  1. Robin Robertson is not only an excellent poet but also reads his poetry extremely well. Who would you cite as some of the outstanding international poets? I seriously regret not hearing/seeing Karen Solie and Nikola Madzirov, in particular, at Poetry Parnassus last year (there was so much going on, it’s that events running concurrently thing!), or since – I love their poetry, and I’ve been in touch with Nikola a little and he seems so nice. Maybe next year I’ll make it to Aldeburgh.

    Glad everything went well for you and you sold lots of pamphlets! It would be nice to catch up with you in London, but sadly not this week – another time, I hope!

    • Hi Clarissa – I would say it is hard to choose – but probably my personal favourites would be Nicola Madzirov and Terrance Hayes…two completely different poets – Nikola’s stuff is very introverted, almost meditative, very spiritual, contemplative poetry full of loneliness and doubt…and Terrance’s stuff is rhythmical, energetic, colourful, loose in the way that the best american poetry is loose whilst at the same time upholding it’s own inner logic to hold it together – so yes, probably those two because they were so different, but both excellent in their own way..it helps that they are both really beautiful human beings as well and it was wonderful to spend time with them.

  2. I enjoyed reading what John Field said about you and the other pamphlet poets 🙂 And did you hear Canadian Karen Solie – I have her Pigeon book. And would you post us your close reading notes that you did? And let us know when the podcast is available? Thanks.

    • Hi Ellie- Yes, I did hear Karen Solie -she was good – and a lovely person as well. And yes – planning on posting close reading notes here at some point – I’ll let you know! And yes, I’ll definitely let you know when the podcast comes out( if there is one)

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