Friday, March 20, 2009
A varied week.
On Wednesday Caleb & I recreated our collaborative sonnet Je M'aime at the film studio for the Frome Festival Cabaret, once Howard has edited in the cello sequence and added his own animational flair.
(Loo, lippy, and narcissistic poses are integral to the poem; paper bag was Caleb's idea.)
And on Thursday a complete contrast in mood:
Because the poet is the only person
who never forgets
the meaning of freedom
(Yandamiro Restano, from a Cuban prison, 1993)
Chimes of Freedom at the Merlin, based on readings from persecuted writers around the world, in support of Pen.
Ten local writers and artists reading poems, letters, and speeches from Euripedes to Pinter, all passionately insisting on the right to free speech.
Booker judge Victoria Glendinning, who is among her other literary roles the vice-president of English Pen, introduced the evening and read a moving anti-war speech from dissident Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. Stories of imprisonment, torture, exile - Come and see the blood in the streets, Pablo Neruda challenged the world after the murder of Lorca. Powerful stuff and inevitably dark - but with a dazzling lift after the break from musical performances by six of the Amnesty Youth Group, as stunningly talented as they were self-assured.
And finally: Andrew Motion speaks out at the end of his 10-year tenure as Poet Laureate to berate journalists who 'turn poetry into a kind of Aunt Sally by making it look ridiculous and out of touch'. Poetry is, he says, 'a fundamental requirement of the human spirit, as natural and necessary as breathing.'
Words worth writing, and perhaps even worth waiting ten years for.
And who's next for the poison chalice? Wendy Cope says the post is ridiculous and should be axed, but Roger McGough demurs: "It's a rather nice tradition to have, and anything that gets poetry mentioned is fine by me - it can put a lot of pressure on a poet, but if you can't handle it, don't take it on." So, Luke Wright, Poet Laureate... Why not?