Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poets in Lancaster

I caught the train back to Manchester last night with Segun Lee-French, who was one of the readers at the launch of Flax018 at Lancaster's Storey Institute. We bonded over an unexpected love of early Psychic TV! The room at the Storey was a great venue, where the poets - all 6 of those featured in the anthology - were all given equal billing. It felt like the poems and the poets were prioritised, and, in the relaxed atmosphere of cabaret style seating with a glass of red wine, the audience were able to concentrate on the readings. Unusually, and what is the real USP, is that you can all read the poems from the ebook which is downloadable from their website. Segun's poems concerned his going to Nigeria, and finding, not the African spirituality he'd expected from his family there, but Christians, who were trying to convert him.

He wasn't the only poet to talk about "home" - and what that means - and its probably an unofficial theme of the anthology, called "The Crowd Without", to reflect the poet as outsider - like the bison away from the herd that adorns the attractive cover. I enjoyed all 6 of the poets reading, as they all read very well - though they were all very varied, making the anthology a book for readers, first and foremost. A special word for the precociousness of 20-year old Barnsley born, Lancaster-based student Andrew Macmillan, who read with a confidence like he'd been doing this all his short life. I'd been getting nostalgic about my own English degree at Lancaster which completed 21 years ago, and here was a current 2nd year student. A little humbling!

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