Friday, 30 October 2015

How many poems can you fit into one week?

The answer is lots!

I've just begun working on the Making of Me (Arts and Older People in Care Programme). Basically, I'm working with the wonderful Sarah Bryson taking poetry into a care home in Banbury and between us all, we're generating group poems in response to pictures, music, objects, stories and other poems. How much fun can a person have? The answer is lots. 

If there is fun and laughter there is also serious intent and I'm expecting moments of profound thought to emerge as well.

Readers of this blog will know I have long enjoyed storytelling and, in particular, story-making with people living with dementia. It's wonderfully anarchic. Poetry can be quite different though. Group poetry has been one of my specialisations for many years. It's great for people are are not very confident about writing - by writing I mean writing with the mind and the imagination, not just with the pen or the laptop. Collective energy brings a unique kind of focus to bear and people quite often spark off each other. It's great for generating group cohesion too. Group poetry worked brilliantly in the prison with emerging readers. Equally, it's worked in universities and youth centres and with people training to be writers in residence. 

I seem to have inadvertently signed up for a poetry reading! I thought I was going to attend, but hey, why not read? There's only one catch, I have to read a translated poem. Translation is not easy, I can tell you now, but if you've never tried, I recommend it simply because it makes you read deeply and consider the weight and proportions of each word. Resonance and nuance are everything and as you're working your way through the text, you realise this is what you do with your own poems, except perhaps you should always be as rigorous as this.

Do come along. We are lucky to have Pedro Serrano and Jamie McKendrick reading and sharing their expertise and it's at my favourite book store. I know, I always plug Albion Beatnik, but it really is the best one for miles around and they do excellent coffee.

Looking further ahead, I'm reading at Keats House with Michael Woods on Tuesday 24th November at 7:00 pm. Put that date in your diaries if you live in London or you're likely to be there on the day. 

And tomorrow Mimi Khalvati is reading at Albion Beatnik with Alison Brackenbury, Claire Crowther and Lee Jing Jing. Formidable! It can't get any better than this...

...or can it?

Here's who's on during Woodstock Poetry Festival:

Woodstock Poetry Festival 13-15 November 2015

Festival ticket £50; students half price. Tea & cakes included in all afternoon tickets.

Friday 13 November
7 pm, Sarah Howe, Choman Hardi & Liz Berry. £8
8.30 pm, Don Paterson & Kei Miller. £8

Saturday 14 November
2.30 pm, Patrick McGuinness & Rian Evans discuss John Ormond's work. £8
4 pm, Elaine Feinstein & Jonathan Edwards. £8
6 pm, Kathleen Jamie. £8
7.30 pm, Katrina Porteous reads her own work and launches Shorelines -free

Sunday 15 November
2 pm, Jenny Lewis introduces four poets from the Poet's House, Oxford, followed by an open mic session. £5
4 pm, Poetry in performance: Katrina Porteous performs Horse; Helen Mort & Alan Buckley perform 'The Body Beautiful'. £8
6 pm, Tony Harrison. £10
8 pm, Bernard O'Donoghue & Tom Paulin with music from Mick Henry and Nick Hooper. £8 - drinks available at bar

Tuesday 23 February 2016
Margaret Macmillan, Professor of International History and Warden of St Antony's College Oxford, talks about her new book History's People, Personalities and the Past. The book examines what difference individuals make to history and what role personalities play in events. £5

And now I think that's ENOUGH to be going on with!

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