aND COPYING IT HERE BECAUSE IT SAVES ME TYPING IT ALL OUT AGAIN ...
IT'S SAID THAT 1 PERSON IN EVERY 20,000 WRITES POETRY.
If this is the case then Alsager has more than its fair share of poets!
There's a lively poetry and spoken-word scene around the town and region. There are regular Poems & Pints sessions upstairs at The Lodge pub on Crewe Road. These combine music and poetry - whether people's own work or favorite poems by other writers and everyone is free to participate or simply listen. Admission is free but there's a voluntary charitable donation.
Next session: 8pm Thursday 25th April 2013
SUMMER FESTIVAL POETRY COMPETITION
CASH AND VOUCHER PRIZES : ENTRY DEADLINE10TH MAY 2013
We invite entries for our 2013 Poetry Competition. Winners will be announced by Roger McGough during a reading at St Mary’s Church, Crewe Road, Alsager at 7.30pm on Friday 28th June.
Prizes: Adult (18+) First prize £100, Second Prize £50, Third prize £25
Junior (14-18) First prize £30 book token, Second Prize £20 book token, Third Prize £10 book token
Prize-winners will be invited free of charge to the Roger McGough ‘As Far As I Know’ reading at St Mary’s, Alsager on Friday 28th June. If prize winners have purchased tickets for this event they will be reimbursed in full. Prizes will be handed out in person or forwarded by post in case of absence.
Adult entrants (18+) £3 for first poem and £2 for any additional poems submitted.
Junior entrants (14-18) £2 for first poem and £1 for any additional poems submitted.
Payment can be made by cash or cheque either over the counter at Alsager Library or by post to:
Here is what my compatriot Rob Brydon might refer to as 'a bit of fun.'
I've been thinking about the reported sightings you get from time to time of exotic beasts in unlikely places - panthers and big cats mostly. There are plenty of exotic species now living within these shores - parrots in the London area, escaped wild-boars pretty much anywhere where there's enough woodland and less welcome visitors too - such as non-native crayfish and the blight that's hitting our ash trees.
The wallabies up on The Roaches near Leek appear to have died out, though, it's a good few years since I've heard of any sightings.
It struck me that many of the taller tales tend to appear in the tabloids and the dear old Daily Mail - you know, the Daily Heil or Daily Wail, the paper I wouldn't even use for the most basic of ablutions.
So I've linked that to the paranoia that such papers try to stir up over immigration and asylum-seekers and so on. It's meant to be a bit of a laugh, this one, but I couldn't resist the closing squib ... a bit Ancient Mariner-ish perhaps ...
When our kids were little I recorded some of their cutest sayings in a
notebook. ‘How clever of clouds,’ my youngest opined on a long car journey as
her sister formed ‘horses’ and patterns in the various formations, ‘To make
I sometimes dip into the notebook to chuckle and smile.
‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength
...’ the old Authorised Version of Psalm 8:2 puts it. Despite years of
involvement with church I still had a hazy idea it might have been Shakespeare.
So much for my English degree ... so much for most places not using the AV
these days ...
I’ve not kept the notebook up to date since the girls were in their
early teens. I should have done. They still come out with wise words and things
that make us laugh.
‘D’you know,’ my eldest observed the other day, ‘The guys who work in
bubble-wrap factories must practice remarkable restraint.’
I found myself wondering whether the management put squares of
bubble-wrap aside for them to use to relieve their frustration. I used to work
on a fruit farm in the summers during university breaks and they’d tell us to
eat the first strawberry and then we wouldn’t be tempted to scoff any more as
we started to pick. I’m not sure it worked.
If the retail figures from this Christmas are anything to go by then
people have been fairly restrained in terms of spending. What expenditure there
has been is necessarily at the expense of something else. All these downloads and apps. I must be the
only person still buying CDs.
I did reasonably well last year in terms of self-employment, but we’re
still being careful. We allow ourselves a decent roast on a Sunday, a bottle or
two of wine each week, the occasional restaurant meal.
‘I can resist anything except temptation,’ said Oscar Wilde, a
veritable walking bubble-wrap factory of bon-mots.
Working for myself the temptation isn’t so much to go out and do some
retail therapy, drink endless cups of coffee or go down the pub. Yet it is all too tempting to mess around on Facebook or mug up on
trivia on-line rather than knuckling down to chasing new business or developing
relationships with existing clients.
I’ve made New Years Resolutions on that and broken them already. But
there’s always a second chance.
I wish you all whatever you’d wish yourselves this New Year. For
myself, enough to keep food on the table, wine in the pantry and time to write.
Now about that novel ...
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year – and whatever
floats your boat continues to float it ...
I don’t know if it’s just me, though, but there does seem to be a
frosty sting of austerity in the air. I wandered through Birmingham’s extensive
Frankfurt Christmas Market the other day (without spending a penny ... I’d
already had a sandwich so couldn’t face a frankfurter or a two-pint tankard of
beer). I understand it’s packed on weekends and in the evening but there were few
punters around as I passed through. Impressive though, it spilled out with
Hansel and Gretel style stalls almost all the way down to New Street station
from Chamberlain Square. Perhaps I was being tight (bah! Humbug! Bah! Hamburg?
Bah! Frankfurt?!) – but I didn’t even stop to buy some tempting wooden toads
with knobbly backs that you run a stick across to play tunes. The bloke at the
stall did it well, but he also appeared desperate.
What do you buy for the man/kids/wife who was everything?
A knobbly-backed toad you can play tunes on.
It’s all about choosing your pitch. Or paying for it. The stalls in the
main squares seemed to be doing better than those around the edges or down the
side-streets. Surely, though, there’s a limit to how many stalls there can be
selling virtually the same stuff. The experts will correct me, but there are
only so many sausage stalls you can cram into a single market.
It was fun, though, and cheery. I take my hat off to Birmingham City
Council for keeping up the cheer despite the impending cuts.
Merry Christmas one and all. ‘God bless us every one!’
‘Let us make one thing
clear: Geoffrey Hill is the greatest living poet in the English language.’
Lezard in a review of Speech! Speech! in The Guardian 2001.
Schmidt, Director of Carcanet Press made the same claim as he introduced Hill at
the John Rylands Library, Manchester last night. It’s always intimidating to
be in the presence of a Behemoth, a Leviathan. Acutely so in Hill’s Gandalfian
presence with his white, Athonite beard and broad, bald dome. As the allusions
and references tumble forth you realise that his wide, pink skull contains as
much condensed wisdom as the hallowed shelves of the Ryland itself – a cathedral
to the written word.
many luminaries in the audience, established poets whose works are anthologised
or taught in schools. Contemporary poets who lecture, review, run workshops,
present TV documentaries. Yet whose collective output Sir Geoffrey once
described as so much ‘land-fill’. What acerbic comment and withering judgements
would the great man deliver tonight?
We found him
in more avuncular mood. The wind and rain was so atrocious outside that he
deemed those who had ventured out on such a night to hear him already ‘converted.’
There were scathing comments about bankers, politicians and middle-brow Radio 4
cultural output. Earnest young people who accost him to query his emphasis on ‘form’
would be better joining the ranks of the City execs rather than pursuing the
unforgiving angel of poetry ...
lectured at Leeds in my undergraduate days in the 1980s. We were all in awe of
him. I only heard him once as my module choices took me in a different
direction. I only remember a single line, one he had repeated again and again. Thomas
Hobbes on Sydney Godolphin, struck down by ‘an undiscerned and undiscerning
'Well done, brave Hobbit!' ... Ed Reiss.
I have a photo of myself and Ed at Bill's wedding bash but this isn't it.
have given this lecture many times. Ed Reiss, the cousin of my friend Bill, a
lecturer at Bradford and a poet and reviewer in his own right, had heard it too.
He completed the line for me when we discussed it at Bill’s wedding celebration
in London. Ed was there last night and I was delighted to hear Geoffrey commend
a review he’d written in Agenda.
I was queuing for the great man to sign my
second-hand copy of his Collected Poems which I’d found already signed in a Suffolk
book-shop. I’d joked with Simon Armitage beforehand (name dropper!) that it
reminded me of the incident in Gig where he claims to have found a copy of an
early collection he’d signed for his parents in a second-hand dump bin. Just
ahead of me, Hill was commending the partner of the poet Frances Leviston for a review he’d
written of his previous collection. In doing so he also cited Ed’s review as ‘exactly what a review should be.’
I called Ed
over and Hill was generous with his praise. It was a solemn, almost holy
moment. It was like watching Gandalf confer an honour on a valiant hobbit.
I went home
content and with one abiding thought. To illustrate the English Sapphic metre of a
wonderful poem by Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Geoffrey told us he would render the
stressed syllable as ‘Tum’ and the unstressed as ‘te’. Imagine then, his grave
and magisterial tone as he proceeded to declaim, ‘Tum – te – Tum Tum Tum – te- te-Tum-te- Tum Tum ...’
Never have I
heard a ‘Tum-te-tum-te-tum’ intoned with such Churchillian authority. (And thanks to Ed Reiss for rendering the caesura at the heart of the dactyllic foot). The Sidney extract came from Arcadia - 'If mine eyes can speak to do hearty errand/Or mine eyes' language she do hap to judge of ...'
As Lezard put
it in that Guardian review (a cutting of which lay at the back of my second
hand Collected Poems), ‘One may ask oneself what the hell Hill is going on
about, but just listen to the glorious way he says it.’
signed my second-hand collected poems a second time. ‘And again’.
again in peace, let us pray to the Lord,’ I muttered, dropping in an allusion of my
own. I first read Hill at school (Genesis), heard him at university, heard him
again as the 80 year old patriarch of English verse. Resurgat.