Saturday, March 01, 2008

Frome Writers' Circle soiréed this month at Elaine's house, where despite the charming viands, as Daisy Ashford would say, dark themes predominated: two murders and a (very moving) wartime atrocity. To lift the mood Mike had brought his poems of wicked passion. Sighs does matter, he assures us. Ahhh.....

Telly time again: Grand Designs returned to Il Collegio this week, to show artists David Westby and Leonie Whitton in their Paglia paradise. I used to run writing courses at their first Il Collegio, in Tuscany, so it was brilliant to see how successful David and Leo have been in building this gorgeous new place themselves - and that means literally, brick by brick, with minimal budget or hands-on help. As Kevin Mcloud says. “Human beings do not chance upon Paradise. They make it.”

Back to Bath Lit Fest on Friday for a 'Writers of the World' event: 'Words in the Snow'- 15 short pieces by 3 spanish writers, read first in English and then in their original language. Yes folks that is 30 readings in all, in an hour, and though each piece was short their authors seemed aware of a race against time that allowed minimal contextual comment. Apparently they are stories told in Northern Spain around the fire "to fight against the long dark boring of the winter days" (lovely phrase) though little sense of an oral tradition emerged from these shaggy-dog, sci-fi, fables which seemed born from the rubble of more urban times. But it's always good, as my companion commented, to get out of our parochial bubble and connect to a European context.

From Spanish snow to Glastonbury rain... (that was Dave and Ben's opening song):
Subfuscous illumination at St James Vaults on Friday night but a crackling Oh What A Performance event, led by Dave Angus and with brilliant Byron Vincent as main man. There's really no-one quite like Byron. With his Dennis-the-Menace jumper and Please-Sir-Can-I-Have-Some-More? air of anxious innocence, he opens his set with a request to the audience to 'take a moment to lower your intellectual expectations' - but not below Nietzsche or you'd miss some of the poet's absurd, painful, and exquisite perceptions of an urban alcopops generation -
"beautiful but indistinct
like a Monet viewed up close."

Best of the rest... quite a lot, actually, including musical talent, but cos I do love to laugh I'm picking Rod Marks for the ridiculous rambling introduction to his Easter Bunny poem.

Great to hear 'spoken word' stuff on the radio - PolarBear on Colin Murray's show on Monday night. PolarBear was on the Apples&Snakes 'Exposed' tour in 2006 when I was one of the guest poets.
And if you missed my story on the radio on Friday and are thinking 'Dang it! I wish I had a chance to listen again!' then Afternoon Reading is the site to visit. (Thanks so much to those of you who've texted & emailed me such generous comments!)

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