I also had the chance to chat to Wales’ National Poet on the telephone in the name of journalism, and indeed, poetry. I was interviewing our very busy Gillian Clarke for Cardiff’s Buzz, you can read all about it in next month’s issue, but there were a couple of snippets that didn’t fit in with publication dates that I am going to share here. The first is that she is performing with the wonderful, lyrical Paul Henry who she encourages women to flock to because apart from being a first rate reader he is ‘very handsome.’ He also has a brand new collection out with Seren which I’m looking forward to tucking in to. Flock to Wyeside Arts Centre on Thursday 21st October. The second was that Gillian tends not to return to her old work, especially for readings unless she is reading on a theme. However, in terms of other people’s work there are some books that never make it back to the bookshelf and are often at her side. Recently she has enjoyed Seamus Heaney’s new collection Human Chain and Don Paterson’s Rain.
National Theatre Wales have been doing a stellar job of reinvigorating theatre here. On Monday I went along to the press night of their latest show Love Steals Us From Loneliness. It was staged in a rock club – Hobo’s – because Bridgend doesn’t have a theatre and the cast was fantastic. You can read my review of it online. Personally, I’m starting to get quite excited about the possibilities of performance and the stage, and I can feel a new writing project coming on.
The National Eavesdropping Project launched the Bugged book at Manchester Literature Festival last night. The brainchild of National Poetry Day Director Jo Bell, the live event featured performances from Jenn Ashworth, Cathy Bryant, Dorothy Burgess, Emma Morgan, Susannah Hart, Emma Lannie, Liz Loxley, Ian Marchant, Lynsey May, Angi Holden, Alicia Ogg, Calum Kerr, Valerie O’Riordan and Phil Williams. I shall be performing my short poem from the book at the other launch at Birmingham Literature Festival next week along with the brilliant Mil Millington and others. It should be fun.
In other news, Zoë Brigley is back in sunny Pennsylvania after a month in Wales. She informs me she has just finished her second collection of poems, and is now at that nailbiting stage where it is being looked over by discerning and trusted types. You can read some new work by her in the next issue of New Welsh Review. Hurrah.
Michèle Roberts’ short story collection Mudwas a new discovery for me, so I’ve a huge back catalogue to work through and I can’t wait. She’s a brilliant writer. I am in complete awe. I also have a bit of a thing for short stories written by poets. Good poets, that is.
My Poetic Licence by Attila the Stockbroker: I performed at his Swansea gig as part of his 30th Anniversary tour and Mrs Attila stopped me in the Ladies to say she liked my poems. The punk poet is still a great performer after all these years, and while I like his politics and his taste in music, I also found his long poem on Alzheimer’s and his mum absolutely heartbreaking and I recommend you all read it.