Sunday, November 25, 2012

Now's the Season to be Poetic.

The Christmas markets may be open and the John Lewis adverts on rotation, but there's also quite a lot of poetry things going on in the NW at the moment. Earlier in the week, I was pleased I was able to make the 2nd Manchester Poets for Pussy Riot event organised by Richard Barrett. Richard had been instrumental in getting so many NW poets to contribute to the excellent English PEN anthology Poets for Pussy Riot which is available as an eBook and print on demand. My poem "Her Jazz for Pussy Riot" made the explicit link with 90s Riot Grrrl, and Richard had read it out on my behalf last time.

This time around a dozen poets - mostly from the NW - gave a reading at Thomas's Restaurant in the Northern Quarter. Its a really great room at the top of the restaurant, where you're away from bar noise or some of the other problems you sometimes get in venues. I arrived just as Richard was making his introduction, fashionably late, but with the excuse that I'd been up since 4 that morning, having flown back from Krakow. I think my critical faculties on the event are a bit dulled as a result, but I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Most of the poets had some kind of take on the subject matter - which, now that two of the Pussy Riot girls have been sent to prison in Siberia, is not just about that, but the wider repression of ideas and thoughts in Russia that it represents. In a room where everyone was in sympathy, there wasn't much need for polemic, and so the poetry took centre stage. The evening was topped and tailed by "cover versions" - Richard Barrett reading an excellent long poem by Ariana Reine's Mercury, and Steven Waling finishing with Tim Atkin's translation of Tsvtayeava's 'I Love The Rich.'

In between there was sweetness, light, polemic and poetry - reflecting the new diversity of Manchester's poetry scene, there were memorised performances - an excellent selection from StephPike - alongside the avant garde - a soundtracked eulogy to a dead animal rights activist by Leanne Bridgewater, and a "found" and profound filleting of a day's newspapers by Gareth Twose - and the ever entertaining John Calvert accompanied himself with both Korg Monotron and guitar. I read mostly new poems, as well as "Her Jazz for Pussy Riot" from Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot anthology.

Recordings of Leanne Bridgewater, Susan Birch, Steph Pike, John Calvert, Judy Kendal, Gareth Twose, Anna Percy, Steve Waling, Ursula Hurley, Richard Barrett and myself are here

Coming up: I'm reading at Sand Bar at Stirred Poetry, thanks to Anna Percy, on Monday 3rd December.

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