Friday, 15 October 2010

MS: Poets, Lovers, Spies.

The Mslexia Blog

The cast from the new NTW show Love Steal Us From Loneliness
The cast from the new NTW show Love Steal Us From Loneliness
Libraries are changing. This week I performed at the first event of this year’s BayLit Festival – Poems & Pints in Cardiff Central Library. Yes pints, actual real ale thanks toCAMRA. The crowd didn’t seem any rowdier for it, and the poets didn’t fall over. Also showcasing some symbolic new work was Cardiff poetDavid E Oprava, from what I heard I reckon the new book is sure to get snapped up by a savvy publisher soon. Poetry has had a leading role in my recent history, not least because it was National Poetry Daylast week. Sophie wrote a rather excellent blog about it here. I had a splendid day reading poems, writing poems, talking about poetry on the radio, and performing with Saturday Live’s Susan Richardson who is always smiling and a pleasure to read with.
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.
Wales’ best literature magazine that does not receive any funding, The Raconteur, is moving from print to digital at the end of the month. Since Borders went bust, it has been a real pain getting hold of, and indeed distributing all the ‘little’ or ’specialist’ lit mags I love without going to an art gallery. Or Bristol. I’m looking forward to hearing BBC broadcaster Adrian Masters in discussion with The Raconteur editors Gary Raymond and Dylan Moore. They will talk about what challenges face literary magazines in the digital age at BayLit festival in Cardiff Bay on Saturday 30th October. They are on right after the final Bright Young Things tour event so it should be a good day. I’ll also be writing occasional blogs for The Raconteur on whatever takes my fancy.
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.
‘Nan, I’m on the telly!’ Well, sort of. Spill Media made a little film about the Bright Young Things and our Swansea launch party. You can watch it if you like. After all, my fellow BYT Wil was once Wales’ 13th sexiest man.Permission to drool granted, I’m sure his wife won’t mind.
I have been reading:
Jo Shapcott’s Of Mutability – I keep returning to this collection. She wanted to be deft, and she has managed it. I love it.
Michèle Roberts’ short story collection Mud was 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.
Next up: I have two Alcemi titles top of the pile by the bed. I’m looking forward to them both. First up, and just started is the second offering from Penny Simpson – The Deer Wedding followed by a novel double the size,Bamboo Grove by Romy Wood. You can get your hands on both now.

No comments: