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Waterfront Festival

Poetry 'love' workshop

7 February 11 words: Robin Lewis
The Nottingham Poetry Series kicks off the year with some readings and news of a 'love' inspired workshop
It's homemade cake and poetry season again...

The opening night of the new Nottingham Poetry Series season took place on Thursday night at the Angear Visitors’ Centre at the Lakeside.  The one-woman poetry festival that is Eireann Lorsung opened proceedings with an introduction to the series, a plea for the thirty strong crowd to budge up to the front (because nothing demoralises a poet more than an empty front row), and readings from Zachary Schombug No Scary and Stephanie Johnson Kinesthesia.  After pointing out the supplies of homemade cake laid out for the audience at the back of the centre, she made way for the first of the three poets of the night.

The first to read was Simon Turner (author of You Are Here and Difficult Second Album), who recently performed at our very own Shindig! at Jam Cafe. He introduced himself as someone whose latest work had been damned by critics as lacking “the ambition and scope of Matthew Welton”.  Since Matthew Welton was sitting roughly three feet away and due to read later in the evening, we were in an excellent position to judge the truth of this statement.  His readings covered subject matter from the unbuilt designs of the futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia to Manichaeism to a lazy Sunday afternoon spent looking out of the window hoping his imagination snagged on something to write about.  Upon finishing his highly entertaining readings, Turner confessed that he hadn’t bought any copies of his latest book to sell, but generously offered his personal edition to the highest bidder, or whoever offered up the most amusing anecdote about a 13th Century heretical priest.

Turner was followed by Carol Rowntree Jones, who read a selection of poems that took in a tribute to Kathleen Jamie’s Whalewatcher, life in Whitby, and the multitude of thoughts that pass through ones head at a memorial.

Finally, the much-anticipated Matthew Welton (author of We Needed Coffee But… and The Book Of Matthew) stood up, and began by paying tribute to the recently departed R.F. Langley with a reading from that poet’s Jack’s Pigeon.  His attempts to continue with a performance version of his own Dr Suss were somewhat delayed by technical difficulties with the sound system that was an integral part of the piece.  Eventually, after five attempts and a blast of feedback that must have scared the ducks outside, Welton succeeded in giving us the live version of Dr Suss.  Recording several lines of poetry into which he inserted tiny pauses, Welton proceeded to play those lines back and place different words into each gap, changing the meaning and direction of the poem with each subsequent read-through.  Against the backdrop projection on the wall of the (very different) written version of the poem, Welton managed to make the same few lines funny, odd, confusing, surprising and enticing by turn with each new variation, ending the poem with a clash of echoes and reverberation that faded into a final reading of the lines.

After this absorbing piece, Welton then continued without the aid of notes or a script, fluently reading several more poems from memory, soothing the audience with the lushness of his wordplay (“A yellow yaffle snaffles up a pile of waffles”), the gentle spike of his wit and engaging everyone in the room with his obvious full-bodied love of what he was doing.  And in the spirit of Simon Turner’s offer earlier, he offered a free copy of one of his books to whoever came up with a decent title for one of the untitled pieces he read.  An enjoyable, and entirely free (bar a voluntary donation to the makers of the delicious cakes) evening of poetry for all concerned.

In late February through March, the NPS will offer a six-week workshop, Reading as Writers: The Form of the Book. This is a prerequisite workshop for the 15-week manuscript preparation workshop which will be offered in Summer 2011. Application information will be available in late January on the workshops page.

For more information on this and a new journal please see the NPS website 


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