Sunday, 1 February 2009

Poets and Players

Wonderful reading today at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. A Poets and Players event, always wonderfully organised, in the gallery (which I love). They are something of a kind. Today, there were musicians playing very haunting music that filled and echoed around the gallery - violin and tabla. There were readings from four poets: Sarah Corbett, Adam O'Riordan - I really loved the intensity of his poems, he is poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere at the moment apparently - Joy Winkler, who I was on a writing course with once, and she was very funny, and John Siddique whose name I see everywhere on internet and around the city. It's the first time I heard him read, and was very interested, but wanted longer to take in his poems. I want to hear him read again, perhaps for longer.

It was the most pleasant way to spend the afternoon, a free poetry event in one of my favourite venues.

I had a cup of tea and scones with an old writing friend afterwards, we were on the same Arvon writing course eight years ago. I can't quite believe it was eight years ago. That week was a real turning point in my life, at a time when I needed it, and it is most probably the week when I 'found my voice', if you believe in such things. What do I mean by this? I went into the week being very unsure about my writing, not feeling I could ever be a writer, but desperate to try. I can't express how fearful I was, with no idea at all what to expect. The week helped me to form ideas of what I wanted to write about, realise from feedback that I did have some kind of voice of my own, that it was different from other people's on the course, and perhaps I had the potential to be a writer. It was a week where life shifted for me and started me off on the journey I have been on since.

So after the reading, we drank tea, and talked about our writing and what we are working on (and how an MA in Creative Writing with all its intensity affected each of us for a long while after). I finished my MA three years ago, and after so much writing, reading, feedback, I had a long period where it was difficult to focus. It was lovely to catch up with him. I like that we are still in touch after all these years.

Then also I have been working on some reviews. I have two reviews to write for The Short Review, two short reviews of poetry chapbooks for Sphinx Magazine (related to Happenstance poetry chapbook imprint), and one outstanding review for Bookmunch. I might have a rest from reviewing for a month or two after that so I can focus on some of the wonderful books I'm dying to read simply for pleasure... Tania Herschman's The White Road, which I've already had a little sneak into, but want to enjoy properly, and Charles Lambert's Scent of Cinnamon. So many books I want to read...

AND, I have a short story I want to finish, some prose poems to edit, and some ideas that are still evolving. I am going up to meet editor of Flax Books on Friday to discuss the four very short stories that they will be publishing in their next anthology due out in April. More on this later.

And my blogs... I have realised that I haven't properly introduced myself on here, and have just launched straight into writing reviews and other such things assuming that anyone who might read this blog already knows me from my perhaps more personal myspace blog... which I am still keeping up with as well as appearing here. So I apologise and will slowly introduce myself over coming weeks. There is just so much to do and such little time...


Michelle said...

You are so busy, I'm suprised you find time to sleep.

Isn't Scent of Cinnamon an evocative title - and I think the cover is beautiful. Will you let me know what you think of it?

I think it's important to allow yourself time to read just for pleasure. I reviewed solidly for two years, writing an indepth review a week - and I simply burnt myself out. Reviewing is an art. I don't think many people realise how much it takes out of a conscientious reviewer.

PS. I'm really enjoying your blog.

Megan said...

Where did you do your Arvon course Annie?
I've been to Lumb Bank twice (with MMU) - magical, magicl place.
The 'Poets and Players' events sound wonderful - and I'm very much looking forward to hearing more about the stories for Flax ...

annie clarkson said...

Thank you Michelle x

Megan, I went to Lumb Bank of course, and have back there again twice.