My poem ‘Recession as Street Theatre’ is now online, in the Morning Star, here. Appropriately enough, the hard copy has it positioned next to a strutting, haunted-looking Andy Coulson being photographed by a barrage of cameras, no doubt wishing he was invisible.
‘Recession as Street Theatre’ feels like a recent poem, but I remember reading it in the Tate Liverpool alongside Andrew Taylor, Robert Sheppard, Scott Thurston, Angela Keaton, Patricia Farrell, Alice Lenkiewicz and the rest of the Edge Hill Poetry & Poetics group at a bash organised by Alice in 2008. The buskers described in the poem are exactly as they were outside Covent Garden tube station one day during the summer of that year.
I attended a very good NAWE Poetry by Heart seminar/CPD day at the Swedenborg Institute in London yesterday, organised by Anne Caldwell, featuring Peter Sansom on Poetry & Memory. Learning a poem by heart is not only a brilliant way to get inside and fully appreciate a poem, it’s enriching. I’m impressed by the diverse selection of poems on the Poetry by Heart website, not least its inclusion of poems by Frank O’Hara, Roy Fisher, Denise Riley and WS Graham. The next stage of the project is to get more poets involved, working in schools; I’m looking forward to being part of this. I had a lot of fun as an English teacher working with young people on learning and ‘performing’ poems, so it will be good to draw on this experience, working with students and teachers.
I’m pleased to be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Aston University starting in September. Not only is it a brilliant thing to do, it’s entirely compatible with my other work: writing, giving readings, leading workshops and tutoring for the Arvon Foundation. It will be great to be working in Birmingham, my home town.
It’s been a good year so far: writer-in-residence again for G15 schools and colleges in Gloucester, (among other things) – working with adults and young people in a range of settings including a PRU.
It was good to read at Wenlock Poetry Festival on Saturday, to catch up with Helen Mort, Gregory Leadbetter and Jane Commane, and to hear Glyn Maxwell read in the Methodist Church – and a bit sobering to realise, talking to him after his reading, that I hadn’t seen him for twenty years.