Monday, 26 September 2011

LIPPfest the Lipping Festastic

This Saturday just gone saw the first ever LIPPfest at the Carriageworks in Leeds. An astonishingly ambitious event created by three poets (Daivd Tait, David Thom and Ian Harker) who had never done anything like it before.

I sincerely hope they do something again. While I wasn't convinced the Carriageworks was the best venue, with events spread over three floors the buzz that was created was dissipated, but there was a great energy all the same. And unsurprisingly since there were 25 poets reading throughout the day.
Sadly I was only able to stay until 4pm, so only caught two of the readings. The first being the Cadavarine reading which featured poets under 30. While I already knew the quality of Kim Moore and Andrew McMillan, it was a delight to be introduced to Suzannah Evans and Rachel Allen. Suzannah read a great poem about breaking into Leeds International Swimming Pool, because she never had. A lovely askewed take on autobiography. And the rest of her set was similarly playful and unexpected.

Rachel Allen was equally as unexpected, and entertaining: energetic, direct, funny and knowing. In other words, stunning. I hope I get to hear her again. She runs Clinic, a poetry night in London, which has got to bode well for poetry nights in London.

The second reading was an introduction to familiar and new voices. I very much enjoyed hearing Gaia Holmes read from her forthcoming collection, due out later this year from Comma Press. She has a delicate ear and sharp voice - making for an interesting combination. New to me were Andy Fletcher and Ian Parks (soon to be a  fellow Waterloo poet) - very very different poets: where one was irreverent and witty (Andy), Ian was expansive and tender. Making for a great combination. This difference is absolutely necessary to keep your ears fresh for so many readers. Just in those two readings there were twelve readers. A lot to digest.

As one of the poets involved the other side of the mic offered a chance to remind myself of what a great community I belonged to. We are colleagues (at least that's how I see myself) but a strange remote set of colleagues, so it's great to run into familiar faces I hadn't seen for a year or more, to catch up, laugh a lot and hear their new work. It's warming, inspiring, and just lovely as crumpets, but much much more stimulating.

Thanks due to David, David and Ian. And hats off.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Joy of Not-Sailing

The remnants of Hurricane Katia (although no hurricane since our waters aren't warm enough) are hitting us now. Walney Island has recorded winds of 47mph this morning so far. It is no day for sailing.

There's a Charlie Brown cartoon in which he reckoned the secret of happiness was owning a swimming pool and convertible: when it was sunny you could ride in your convertible, when it rained, at least it was filling the pool.

I feel a little like that now. Owning a boat inevitably makes you consider the wind direction and speed more And right now I look out to sea and feel so relieved and gratfeul that I'm on hard ground.

It isn't always so clear cut. 

And of course when you're walking downwind it doesn't seem half as bad as when you're walking into it, just so with the tide - incoming with the wind it rolls lustily but nothing seemingly insurmountable. When the tide turns and ebbs against the incoming wind, the extent of windpower is evident.

It's like the whole world as dipped itself inside a Dyson hand-dryer. I prefer paper towels, really.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

New Review

Mark Burnhope had this to say about Host on Ink, Sweat and Tears:

"I recommend the collection, especially for readers looking for a fresh slant on the domestic lyric, or just a very enjoyable verse narrative. Host is well worth their while, and bodes well for Hymas’ future."

You can read the entire review here

Monday, 5 September 2011

Moby Oh Moby

I haven't written much about other poetry for a while here because I have been reading Moby Dick, which is rich in its own very idiosyncractic and long-winded poetry. I'm still not finished (like Ahab), and while it is a tremendously slow read, it is very very enjoyable.

If, at times, overwhelming. Like sperm whales themselves.

Favourite bits so far:

a line of rope has "sundry mystifications too tedious to detail"

sailors suffer from " the spell of sleep induced by such a vast sea"

on philosophy:
"Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare's? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel's great telescope; and his ear capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or shaper of hearing? Not at all. Why then do you try to enlarge your mind? Subtilise it."

aesthetics:
"Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic."

biology:
"But I cannot completely make out his back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again he has no face."

mortality:
"The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul."


And a most astonishing fact about sperm whales, that Melville has yet to mention (but I do have another 70 pages to go): They can dive for an hour and half, during which their heart beats 1 or 2 times a minute.