In his review of The Salt Book of Younger Poets, Dai George noted that the present seems a particularly good time to be a young British poet. George cites, among other things, the active literary culture to which many twenty-something poets are contributing as evidence of this and, if the sheer number of publications dedicated to this generation is anything to go by, one is apt to believe him.
Though there is some overlap between these publications, what is most striking is the variety of poets they contain. Within this surfeit of names, though, a recurrent figure is Ahren Warner: soon to have a second collection published by Bloodaxe, recently appointed as the new Poetry London editor, winner of the Arts Foundation Fellowship and still a few years shy of 30.
On Wednesday November 14th I’ll be performing a one-off set with musician and storyteller Christine Cooper at First Floor Portobello in Notting Hill (see event details below). Come along if you can. There will poems new and old with a musical backing and I might even preview a song or two…
My final, full, day in Abu Dhabi (June 6th) started early with me leading workshops for three school groups. It was great fun to work with students with such a highly developed sensibility for poetry. I particularly enjoyed hearing some poems the students had written in the local Nabati style which is so much a part of Emirati culture that the reality TV show celebrating it has been called ‘one of the most successful Arab television shows ever’ . The evening brought a trip to Saadiyat Island for my performance at Artscape of World Cultures. Manarat Al Saadiyat is a beautiful place and it was wonderful to be able to share the stage with so many talented artists and performers. Here is a picture of the entrance to give you a sense of the place:
Tuesday was a slightly shorter day with just one engagement: a drama/playwriting workshop at Zayed University.
I had a great time leading this session as we spent the session creating a play from scratch starting with some improv, deciding on a location, deciding on the characters and so on. The play that emerged (a transgressive story concerning an unmarried Yemeni woman attempting to escape a controlling father) was a genuine surprise. Continue reading
I am writing this from a hotel room in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The British Council invited me here to take part in an event at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island on Wednesday called Artscape of World Cultures. I snapped the pic above on the way to the arrivals gate at the airport where I was met by staff from The Beach Rotana hotel. On arrival I was struck by the scale of the place and the architectural flare at work in the buildings…and the heat. It is not yet summer here but that still means high 30s/low 40s and 50% humidity. Continue reading
Wow…it’s been some time. Part of the reason for my absence from the blogosphere is that I’ve been busy with the usual teaching and gigging and keeping the wolf from the door but I’ve also been working on a pamphlet of poems which is now available from those purveyors of beautifully designed books, Salt Publishing. Continue reading
Very much enjoying this song from Wiley:
Wiley – \’Roamer\’
He never seems to release his best songs. I mean ‘Numbers in Action’ is alright but this is something else.
10.CMYK’ – James Blake
9. No Need To Run’ – Kwes
\’No Need to Run\’ – Kwes
8. ‘Morning’ – Ghostpoet ft. Micachu
\’Morning\’ – Ghostpoet
7. ‘Heavy’ – Chase ‘n’ Status ft. Dizzee Rascal
6. ’Oranges’ – Elan Tamara
5. ‘Completely Exposed’ – Jamie Lidell
4.’Flying In To Tokyo’ – Magnetic Man
3.’Hard’ – Breakage ft. Newham Generals & David Rodigan (came out in 2009, but still)
2. ‘Shutterbug’ – Big Boi
1. ‘Limit To Your Love’ – James Blake
Wandering around the interwebs I stumbled on this. A new poem from one of my favourite contemporary poets:\’Book of Water\’ – Jacob Polley. What I particularly like about the best of Polley’s poems is that they live as well on the page as they do in the ear. I think this poem is a good example of this.
If you want to read the poem you’ve only to go here and check out the Guardian piece on the events which inspired it.
Since my last update the UK leg of Verbalized (the tour I went on earlier in the year w/British Council) has been and gone. Starting in early October we toured to audiences in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Bradford, Sheffield and Manchester. I’m pleased with how it went and am looking forward to what comes next.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the UK leg of the tour was that the show itself was more collaborative. Poetry events can get a little stuck in the poet follows poet follows poet way of doing things. In our show we were all on stage throughout and poems flowed into each other interspersed with song or movement. Since the tour I’ve been approaching all my readings with a clearer sense of my comfort zones and am hoping to push against them into new ground. More on that story later.
In other news, the winner of my personal poll as to the best accommodation we stayed in goes to the idiosyncratic Palace Hotel in Manchester in which the Lower Ground floor is higher than the Mezzanine and finding my room was always an adventure. The Campanile Bradford is a close second and Jury’s Inn Sheffield receives an honourable mention for the decor in its lifts.
For footage from the South Africa leg of the tour check out my videos section for the poem ‘Denouement’ (labelled as ‘I am afraid it will be too easy). I’ll post up tour footage from the UK leg when it surfaces.
In the meantime why not come along to one of my gigs? I have two left in 2010 one on the 25th of Nov at Tongue Fu, a night that runs at Rich Mix, London and one at the newly re-opened Swan Theatre in Stratford on December 3rd. Check out the events section for all relevant details.
I’ll leave you with this, a video of Jackie Kay at a recent event to celebrate the life and work of Edwin Morgan: