Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Wordsworth Trust

I'm reading at Dove Cottage this afternoon and the sun is shining (for real, not just metaphorically), so with any luck we'll be outside in their garden.

It's a lovely treat to be reading up there. I go up reasonably regularly for the Wordsworth Trust season of poetry readings which are a fabulous resource for us here in the North West. They have a fabulous range of poets come. Last week Ruth Padel and Tom Pow were reading from sequences of poems, which were equally absorbing and engaging.

Tom Pow read from a series of poems charting the inhabitants of the Crichton asylum, with such compassion and lyricism it was a delight to fall into what might have otherwise been discomforting surroundings. His charisma and passion for the subject linked the poems to other individual poems he also chose to read.

Ruth Padel's Darwin sequence was the reason I was there. Previously I've never got on with her work particularly although I had heard her talk about her tiger book and found her an easy and generous speaker. And so she was last week. She took us through Darwin's life, focusing mainly on his marriage rather than his work, punctuating the poems with historical links so building this overarching narrative through the evening. The poems were insightful, textured and touching, melding the emotional with the theoretical. Lovely lovely. And made even more enjoyable by her reading - very subtley she used tone, pace and volume to illuminate the poems.

And so I've been inspired to read from my sequence of poems, Bedrock, for this afternoon, to think about the narrative arc of the selection, how to link them and what I might say between each poem to help the audience gain entry to a slice of a largr body of work. This is exciting. All my recent readings have been far more 'performative' or perhaps dramatic is a more accurate word: more physical. This will be a variant storytelling.

And since I'm on the subject of Bedrock. Below are some possible images for my forthcoming book, Host. Any opinions much appreciated.


Elizabeth M Rimmer said...

middle one. No doubt. Perhaps the others say more about your work, but that one makes me want to buy the book. Now.
Best wishes for tonight. Did I not live so far away I would come and hear you!

Design Jack said...

I'm always a bit wary of photographic covers. I worried with the Flax ones, they turned out okay, but I think that is because we messed with them a bit. I also worry about things being too literal and giving to much emphasis to one idea in the writing. It is a tricky balance to strike. I think I'd be most likely too look at something a bit less solid rock, give it a bit of intriguing vagueness – does bedrock refer to rock, or also to the home, the family, the countryside you come from, the concrete of a city that gives you roots, perhaps. You seem to me and what I know of your poetry kind of mirrors this, an odd combination of the modern and the rural idyl. A little bit hippy, a little urban intellectual. The conflict between these, the dreamer and the practical, is what makes what you say interesting and I'd want that reflected in a cover rather than a literal reflection of the title. The rock. Rocks, to me, don't suggest you. A window? More likely. So off all of them, I'd be looking at the stone wall with a window, looking out on the countryside from where? A bit of mystery.

Jonathan Bean Photography said...

I so wish i could give a lovely thoughtful and erudite answer like Martin, but I'm just gonna say the middle one! Feels more human.

Sarah Hymas said...

hmm, well, that's making things simple so far. Although Martin's thinking is also making me rethinking - watch who you calling hippie, Mr Chester