21st Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

OK, so it happened a while ago, but it takes me a while to digest these things…

Sunday 8th Masterclass

The Hairy Muse took a couple of sneaky photos while we were waiting for the event to begin, so here are Jamie McKendrick, Helen Mort, Catherine Ormell, myself and Michael Laskey just before the Masterclass on Sunday.  Yeah, I don’t know what I’m doing, either.

We were very nervous, until the actual work got underway.  Then, caught up in Helen’s tragicomic poem about a spurned lover, I forgot there was an audience.  Catherine had a killer image that reminded me of a sculpture by Marc Quinn; his Blood Head, maybe, or the frozen flowers.

The audience were lovely; alert, thoughtful, constructive.  I’d been very uncertain about the poem I was workshopping – but I’ve come away with some really exciting suggestions for taking it further.  And a lot of supportive comments.  Wow.

It really was a wonderful weekend, not least because our team won the quiz!  Yes, that’s right; we WON the QUIZ (we usually come next-to-bottom).  I can’t help thinking it had something to do with the late addition to our team of the fabulous Kate Fox, she of Saturday Live fame.  We caught her show on the Sunday, complete with virtual ukelele, and it was great.  What’s interesting is that she doesn’t just do the performance stuff.  She read a few of her other pieces; love poems, a moving tribute to her father.  Deft (word of the weekend, really), beautifully-handled images, sonically alert.  Predictably, she says it’s sometimes hard to get people to realise that she’s “serious” about poetry, that she can do both, performance and page-oriented work.  We’re not good at pluralists in our culture, are we?

Anyway, the highlights were extremely many, so I’ll finish by naming  three personal discoveries (you’ll have heard of them and be sighing, by now, with ennui):  Annie Freud, Elena Shvarts (sadly too ill to be there in person) and Sasha Dugdale.  Wonderful, wonderful poets all.



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