A quick round up of recent events

A busy November has given way to a quiet December but my growing collection of new poems is demanding attention so the blog is being neglected.  I’ve written about 20 new poems that I’m reasonably pleased with. Many more will likely never see in the New Year.  My editing knives have been sharpened.

November began with a weekend by the sea in Aldeburgh for the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival.  I had such a great time last year (when I was invited to read) that I decided to return as an audience member this year.  I volunteered as an usher in return for tickets to events.

‘Scallop’ by Maggi Hambling

Highlights for me included hearing Niall Campbell read – I’ve loved his poems since his first pamphlet with HappenStance in  2012 and it was wonderful to hear poems I know fairly well read aloud.  Kathyrn Maris was another poet I loved hearing read.  I find her work sharp, edgy, daring.  I loved her plainspoken, not-showy performance.  Another event I valued a lot was hearing artist Maggi Hambling talking about her life and work.  I hadn’t intended to stay for this reading (I was going to slip away for a break once I’d done my ushering bit) but I found myself rooted to my seat as Hambling spoke.  There were loads more events I loved, and I had the added bonus of sharing a gorgeous house with a lovely friend (Lisa Kelly) so I came away from the seaside feeling refreshed in every way.

I went to two events featuring Alice Oswald in November, the first being her inaugural lecture as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.   The title of the lecture was ‘The Art of Erosion’ and Oswald asked the audience to think about the “livingness” of a poem rather than its “lastingness”.  She read us poems by Thomas Wyatt and by Robert Herrick, repeating each poem at least twice, and reading slowly so that our ears absorbed the experience of the poem.

Bodleian Library, Oxford

Alice Oswald also took part in a panel discussion about Anne Carson at Spike Island Arts Space in Bristol.

Laura Jansen, Rebecca Kosick and Alice Oswald discussing the work of Anne Carson

Some quotes from my notebook: “She wants to forbid us from knowing who she is.”  “Poetry is language that includes silence.”  “You have to read her like a bible… believe what she says..” “she’s a philosopher, a hybrid between philosophy and poetry…” (AO)

“She keeps reshaping the form of what she’s writing.” (LJ)

“There’s a pleasure in not yielding to all the references (in AC’s writing)” (RK)

In November, I also enjoyed a reading by Daljit Nagra in Bristol.  Nagra asked the audience to think about what a ‘British voice’ is – “who is the ‘we’?” he asked – a good question!

Dalgit Nagra reading for The Bristol Poetry Institute, November 2019

The month was rounded off with a reading organised by Mathew Stewart and Mat Riches in London (and a chance to hear a lot of poets read, including Katy Evans-Bush, Clarissa Aykroyd, Rishi Dastidar, Rory Waterman, Robin Houghton, Ramona Herdman, Neil Elder, Mathew and Mat),  and poetry workshop at John of Gaunt School, in Trowbridge, with a super bright group of Year 9 students who wrote poems responding the climate crisis.  I was so impressed with how informed and passionate the students were.

For now, back to my poems.

9 thoughts on “A quick round up of recent events”

  1. So many wonderful events and how fortunate you are to be amongst it all. Thank you for sharing your experience and notes. Wishing you the best with your own poems.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Josephine interesting that you write…
    ‘Oswald …. read us poems …. repeating each poem at least twice, and reading slowly so that our ears absorbed the experience of the poem.’
    this is interesting to me because I find I need to close my eyes at readings to ‘hear’ what is being read – I think I am a visual hoover and so need to switch off at the plug to give my ears a chance to create audio pictures for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m rather jealous you went to the Alice Oswald lecture – that must have been superb. I’ve been to her readings (more “recitals”) and they are further proof that she is just the best. It was great to see you at the Rogue Strands reading and thanks for buying my pamphlet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I happily confess to being an Alice Oswald groupie. All the Oxford lectures are open to the public so try to go to the next one. Loved hearing you read and I’m so enjoying the pamphlet. Congrats once again! J x


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