Tomorrow I am reading at Natterjacks as part of Another Fine Fest at Ulverston. I’ve never been to this festival before and will be appearing with Ann, John and Rowland from Verbalise (6:30 until 8:30 pm).
I expect (hope) that the audience (with the exception of Ann, John and Rowland) will be unfamiliar with my poetry, which is rather nice because it means I can do the stuff I like, rather than be worrying whether this or that has been performed before.
So, my set will consist of the following mix …
- Glad To Be A Dalek
- Schrodinger’s Mouse
- Then It Rains
- The Thoughtful Little Cactus
- The Sad Tale Of The Reckless Rhubarb
- A Happy Ending For Petrologists
My only worry is that parking will be a pain as the festival appears quite popular, judging by the video here:
AFF ’17 from Robbie Gallagher on Vimeo.
It’s 10 pm and I am just back from an evening at The Brewery Arts Centre where I have been listening to Andrew Motion read excerpts from Essex Clay, published this year by Faber & Faber.
I walked into town and arrived half an hour early so that I could have a pint at the end of quite a hot day. Sitting outside in the beer garden, I read through a few poems from a selection of his works (bought for my birthday by my daughter) and indulged myself with a very cold Guinness. Then a few poetry friends arrived (who hadn’t seen me since the demise of the beard) and we had a pleasant chat about how incredibly young and handsome I now look …
In the theatre, I counted fifty people, mainly my age or above, and finished my Guinness to the not unpleasant strains of jazz piano over the PA system. Then the auditorium hushed as a disembodied voice announced Motion’s imminent arrival on the stage.
He walked on and put everyone at ease with his own relaxed and understated presence, telling an anecdote/joke about a meeting between Philip Larkin and Richard Murphy, before explaining the reasons behind the new work and the way in which he had organised its layout on the page. I don’t intend to carry out (nor could I do justice to) a dissection or analysis of the poem, which addresses a life-changing incident when he was 17 years old and an unexpected reverberation forty years later in a meeting at St. Pancras station. Suffice to say, the work is bloody marvellous and I was rapt all the way through (buy this book!).
An hour passed in seconds and we were at the end. He invited questions from the audience, and after a short embarrassed silence, someone broke the ice. Motion talked about his time as Poet Laureate (graciously) and I wondered (aloud) if I could ask a question about Larkin’s attitude/feelings towards the role he’d refused (or let it be known he didn’t want). I also managed to get confirmation from Sir Andrew (which I’d always assumed to be correct) that the railway line from Hull through Goole to Doncaster was in fact the one referred to in The Whitsun Weddings …
… it was; I went home a very happy poet.
Post Script: Just found this advice from A.M.
Four years out of date, but still relevant 🙂
Those lovely people at The Caterpillar Magazine announced the winner of this year’s Caterpillar Poetry Prize. Coral Rumble (great name) came first with a marvellous children’s poem called Mustafa’s Jumper, which you will be able to read in the summer issue of that excellent magazine (if you would like a sneaky peak, nip over to the Irish Times here >>> The Irish Times ).
The competition was judged by Chrissie Gittins who writes adult poetry, radio plays and short stories as well as poems for children. I’m very happy to say that my own effort (Bill The Bad) was among eleven commended poems from such esteemable company as Carole Bromley, Marie Carmichael, Nikki Cookson, Sam Cummings, Matt Goodfellow, Nicolette Gunn, Mary Green, Louise Greig, Jenny Lamothe and Kate O’Neil. This, as you will imagine, makes me very happy indeed and feels like a bit of a threshold in terms of the poetry I write for children.
I would love to put the whole poem up here, but it’ll be out in the Caterpillar later on in the year and so you’ll have to make do with a snippet to give you a flavour of what it’s about …
Bill the Bad
I am a pirate’s parrot,
with an owner fierce and bold.
We’ve sailed across the seven seas
in search of jewels and gold.
My pirate’s known as Bill the Bad
who has a bushy beard.
Bill scares all other pirates and
around the world he’s feared.
He wears a leather eye patch
and is covered in tattoos,
with tales of his adventures
featured in the ‘Pirate News’.
The crew all quake when Bill’s about,
because he looks so grim;
but sometimes reputations hide
the truth that lies within …
… and so it goes on.
Congratulations Coral on a very well deserved prize 🙂
Published in Ink Sweat & Tears (June 2018)
On The Road To Samaria
In these shoes,
I negotiate life in the third person;
toes swathed in top quality calfskin,
safe from random shit and shards,
where neither grass nor paved path
can sully these soft arches and soles.
I wear these suits;
an actor avoiding the fourth wall,
costumed and painted with lines learnt,
senses fenced off with silk and cashmere,
any truthful light blocked by scenery.
I drive these cars;
cosseted in high-end second skin caskets,
hermetically sealed and sheltered from rain,
all shocks absorbed and sins absolved,
reality suspended for the duration.
In front of these screens,
I casually exploit worlds lived separately,
salving conscience with painless gestures,
shifting small sums with gift aided texts,
untouched by the sweat of first person lives;
always remembering to give openly,
while keeping a record for tax purposes.
I’ve spent most of this half-term week checking through children’s writing in preparation for moderation, writing school reports and trying to recover from this back strain. It has been tricky because prolonged sitting aggravates the injury. Progress in the writing tasks has been sporadic and my body’s reaction to enforced posture constraint has been spasmodic. In addition, my psyche rebels against the imposition of this type of prolonged and restrictive activity over the Whitsun break because I am unable to concentrate on anything creative without a sense of guilt descending and the feeling that I ought to be ‘working’.
Looking forward to poetry news and events over the next week is helping and there are a number of things in the pipeline which I’m particularly pleased about, starting with the publication of a poem in Ink, Sweat & Tears tomorrow and some other news on Monday.
In the meantime, this quick update will have to suffice as a little voice inside my head has started tutting and I need to be attending to my professional duties (for we must always listen to the little voice in our heads, must we not?) …
I have a little worry man who lives inside my head.
He feeds on my anxieties; chews over what’s been said.
He’s like a little dog that’s found a large and meaty bone.
Distraction’s nigh impossible; he won’t leave things alone.
He’s always making comments on the passing day’s events;
Decisions made, on actions, or on money that’s been spent.
I’ve often tried to banish him, to send him far away.
He tunnels back eventually, then carries on his stay.
At night he’s very active and he keeps me from my sleep.
I hear him pacing all the time, he’s often made me weep …
I have a little worry man who lives inside my head.
I wish the sod would bugger off, plague someone else instead. 🙂
… this morning on Facebook, a poet completely misunderstood a comment I’d written, bawled me out, trashed my poetry and blocked me before I could explain she’d got the wrong end of the stick. Apparently, I’m some sort of bitter non-entity, jealous of the success of other poets …