Saturday, 8 November 2008

Briefly home, Saturday night

On the road back from Aldeburgh: bonfires, fireworks, the great illuminated form of Blythburgh church, known as 'the cathedral of the marshes'. Peter Porter wrote a marvellous poem about it shortly after the death of his first wife. I wrote a reply to it, must be some twenty-years ago now, all in Burns stanza.

At Aldeburgh attended the morning reading with Tiffany Atkinson, Alan Brownjohn and Dennis O'Driscoll. What a lively affair this was! Tiffany is funny, sharp with an edge of melancholy. I had never come across her before but she was winner of last year's Aldeburgh first collection prize. She is from West Wales, and sounded absolutely assured.I bought her book.

Alan Brownjohn, though in his seventies, reads as though he has been shot full of speed. I hadn't seen so much vigour since the Nicholas Brothers did the jitterbug, the poems funny, wry, full of fury and lightness. It was one hell of a laughing first half.

In the second half came Dennis with his own dry humour but essentially darker, more turned towards the sense of mortality. Not reading very much, talking as much as reading. For my money a major, important poet. It was a terrific morning.

Quick lunch with Alan, Dennis, Helen, Martin and C, then to the New Voices reading, shorter than the others with more poets. All very different. Mixed, I thought. Very good at best. But I was a little tired (tiredness is a refrain this last week and will probably be next week too, so much so, I am not even going to mention it, its presence is to be understood between paragraphs).

Then I did my talk on Martin Bell in the old cinema. I love reading his poems and talking about him. Alan Brownjohn, who knew him well, and Penny Shuttle were in the audience. Time flew. Just enough for three poems.

Tea with Penny then home, as described. A little on my own reading and prowess as a prophet in the next post, coming right up.

1 comment:

Padhraig Nolan said...

O'Driscoll is an interesting cat. I'm feeling a slow conversion - finding him pedestrian at times, but undoubtedly meticulous. He's benefited from the Heaney friendship,I guess, and is as much scholar/trainspotter as poet - which might sound unduly harsh - not meant to be, at all. He covered well for an absent Richard Murphy at the Roethke remembrance at Poetry Now, earlier this year - were you at that? But there's a mumbling aspect to his love affair with the quotidian, sort of the opposite of Larkin?