Saturday, December 09, 2006

Poetry highlight of the week, and possibly the century, is the FOUR CONTINENTS Slam in Bristol on Thursday. Steve Larkin, the dynamo behind Hammer & Tongue, explains the concept to a crowded Polish Club: "It's a vibrant, high octane - thing!" And indeed it is. Perhaps his view of the scoring system is spot-on too: "It's a metaphor for humanity's struggle to impose order on a chaotic world." Or maybe it's more important than that. Whatever, it's a fantastic event. Here's 8 poets, the creme de la creme of 4 continents, giving us the best of their best on the last night of a 13-venue tour... you get the picture, and an idea of the atmosphere of intense cameraderie as well as rivalry. We'd gone to cheer the local boy, Elvis McGonagall, but like everyone else ended up cheering them all. Special praise from me for: US Sonya Renee's explosive "Tag", for the sensuous evocation of Africa by Andreattah Chuma, for John Akpata's poignant challenge "What do you know about love?" & for Australasian Thom's impro love anthem to his tour-mates: "No voice can contain the beauty of your dreaming". And to Elvis, of course, who won on the night and with Sweden's Henry Bowers took Europe to an overall tour win. Of course, like Steve says, it's the poetry not the points that's the point, but great fun when the judges hold up their scoreboards, especially with a rare, exhilerating, "Perfect 10!"

And now Christmas is slithering inexorably closer like some great glittering snake which... well, slithers. Inexorably. It's hard to look ahead to next year, but necessary: I have a Valentine Poetry Cafe to plan - Rose Flint has agreed to guest - and there's a Words@Frome Festival meeting.

And on Friday I meet with Diana Cambridge, editor of Greece among other multi-talented writing roles, to talk about next year's island visits... after all, it's only 10 days to the solstice, and then the long nights will slowly start to shorten again.

Saturday night is party time at Annabelle's - as befits an actor she's looking gorgeously theatrical in an amazing outfit complete with pink parakeet. The rest of us provide a mixed bag of attire, especially when an impromtu dance of several veils somehow ends up with them all on our heads Her Maj.-stylee...

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