Saturday, October 31, 2009

Four Different Styles

A week ago I was on my way to Lancaster for the launch of the "Mostly Truthful" anthology. I've been so busy since that I find it hard to remember it's just been 7 days - and I've not had time to blog about it.

The four readers appeared in the same order as in the anthology, and we read most of our contributions in the hour session. It was fascinating hearing Kate Feld's take on Manchester, her being an American transplant to the North West gave her a different view of the city. Her second piece, which talks about how she now has an "imagined" English childhood overlaying the reality of her own was a reminder of how our memories of growing up are both unique, but also generic. I read from both of my pieces in the anthology, before giving way to Katherine Woodfine whose "journey" (the nebulous theme of all our work) was a cross London one. Finally Jane Routh read about different kinds of "journey", the passage of the rural year, in two pieces from a monthly diary she's been keeping.

What interested me, and interests me always, about an unexpected grouping of writers such as this, is how there were four very different styles, and more than that, four very different sensibilities. I've sometimes read anthologies or collections where there seems little to distinguish the styles of a particular group of poets or writers, and I guess commercial fiction works on that premise - yet it's the one thing that a writer can bring to the table that is entirely their own. I don't think that any of the four of us had much in common in terms of either our style, sensibility or even life experience, but what we did have was points of intersection - across all of these - which is, at the end of the day, what connects us. Literature, language, speech - these common understandings, for both us and the audience, are intersection enough.

We arrived at the same time, and left separately; Lancaster overcast and wet. I came away thinking of a realm of possibilities, and pleased for the opportunity.

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