Monday, August 23, 2010

Dead Weeks, but Future Promises

Manchester in August. Nobody would write  a poem about it. It seems to be one of the wettest months, not only this year, but the last two or three. I'm hoping for an Indian summer. Having took a week off, I stayed in mostly, reading books, and recording music. These are the dead weeks of summer, and I look back a little on school days, or my long university holidays (youngsters: in those days they not only gave you a grant, but unemployment pay during the summer).  I wrote most of my music and stories during the summers, always something to do when you'd a pen or a typewriter or a 4-track to hand. So, not a bad time for it to rain, and for me to have some time to myself. If you can judge your state of mind by dreams then woke up this morning after dreaming I'd been to see an intimate Joni Mitchell concert in Albert Square, just her and her guitar and an audience of no more than twenty. I've woke up before now having dreamt a job interview in its entirety thinking "thank God, its over" only for it still to come, and in a particular piece of dream-engineering I learnt to drive, passed my test, etc. only to wake up as baffled by cars as when I went to bed. So a dream which finishes with a virtually private rendition of "Carey" and "Amelia" can be seen as some kind of psychic progress, I think. And if a week of solitude, poetry and music manifests itself in the wonder that is Mitchell's "Hejira" I should clearly do it more often.

But dead weeks won't last for long and come September everything will kick back in with vitality. First up, on Thursday 2nd September is Howard Jacobsen reading from "The Finkler Question" at the Anthony Burgess Foundation, just off Whitworth Street. My (and other people's) new favourite venue in town - I imagine it will be one not to be missed. A son of Manchester who seems to genuinely relish returning (as he did in fiction in "The Mighty Waltzer") it's certainly a new term event worth getting a new pencil case for.

For soon after, it's festival season. I'm reading from my new collection, alongside the estimable James Davies on Thursday 30th September at Pizza Express, as part of the Didsbury Arts Festival.  Not that we're the only poets or writers, reading that week. I'm sure I'll try and get to a few things, but particularly Nicholas Royle's "Nightjar Press" night, and a reading by Jon McAuliffe. You can download complete listings on the DAF website or find them on Facebook.

...then a couple of weeks to go before its Manchester Literature Festival, though my highlight would have to be the appearance of the wonderful American poet CK Williams at the Martin Harris Centre on 4th October. Anyone who loves poetry should make a beeline for this event. Williams, who I met, and saw read in Norwich two years ago, has a poetic sensibility that we rarely see on these shores. His collection of late middle age, "Repair" remains a particular favourite.The literature festival itself has the usual collection of the unusual - where literature  seems too staid a word for a diverse range of events, that, yes, are all somehow literary.  Its usually a horribly busy time of year for me, but I'm hoping that I'll get a few passes out.

So, a few random events for your diary, but heralding a fine literary autumn, rain or no rain.

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