Friday, May 21, 2010

Longest Days

Take advantage of the sunshine - a month till the longest day - and the weather finally improving after a wet, cold, dark spring has made all the difference. Not the time to be staying in writing of course - and having gone back to work, and it being quite full on, I'd hardly wrote a thing until Tuesday, when I sat outside of the Red Lion in Withington, with the sound of the sprinkler hose on the bowling green a murmur below the pub chatter, and wrote two new poems. You need to find a space to write, it's true, but sometimes that space can be carved out of the busy times and places.

It's Chorlton Arts Festival starting this weekend, and there's a wide range of local activities - including a few writing events. Most things are free or low cost, and though I'm too busy to go to much I hope to get to a couple of things. There's a handy programme available from all the usual places. I picked up mine yesterday from the Portico Library in town, where I'd amazingly never been before. An astonishing gem of Manchester's Victorian architecture - a private lending library that remains a private club. There's a sign on the stairway saying "have you paid for your lunch?" and you can well imagine the languid atmosphere taking all such wordly decisions away from you. In the back room there was a copy of "Ulysses" (I'm guessing the first American edition, but might be wrong - I couldn't see "Shakespeare & Company" on the spine); the central dome fills the room with light on a summery evening like yesterday - and one couldn't help but be amused by the wooden bookshelves with their inscribed titles - on two sides of the room, the Victorian book lender was able to borrow "Polite Literature". I really, really want to write something polite, now....Last night was for the new website for "Visit Manchester" which is Manchester's visitor website - but since we all visit Manchester, even those of us who live here, it's going to be a real asset for the city. There's always so much going on in Manchester that it's so easy to miss things. This week alone I forgot all about Don Paterson reading at the Dancehouse on Monday, and "Control" being shown outdoors at Spinningfields last night.

Following on from last week's launch of "Extracts from Levona"  I need to get back to some other projects over the next few weeks. I've plenty of things at different stages. For instance on Monday I spoke about the OuLiPo and realised it would be useful to write a little introduction to experimental literature - as it's an area that most people aren't aware of, but find fascinating when they discover it. I think in a world of so many distractions - the idea that literature can be not only engaging, but innovative, experimental, playful, original can often come as a surprise to people who only see the high street bookshelves.

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