Maybe it's because the weather is suddenly so sunny and the days long but I seem to be getting out more. It's so easy to lose sight of the pleasure of writing or any creative activity. There's no better way to return to that pleasure by finding pleasure in the creativity of others. I feel well nourished this week by music and poetry.
Sunday 22 June
In Aldeburgh for the 'Musicircus ' - part of the Aldeburgh festival - a re-creation of a John Cage Happening, first performed at the University of Illinois in 1967. Fast forward to a Suffolk seaside town 2014. Between 11am and 1pm on Sunday morning, around 700 musicians lined the beach and the Crag Path to play. The 'audience' was free to move among them, creating their own 'concert'. Highlights for me: the percussion section of the CBSO, freed from the back of the concert stage, came forward to play a spirited piece on upturned dustbins.
More drummers paraded along the sea front - students from The Guildhall, London.
As a kind of 'finale' the whole of the CBSO turned up shortly before 1pm. Dressed in Sunday casual gear, and conducted by Thomas Ades, they performed part of Ravel's Ma Mere l' Oye in a tent on the front. Seagulls joined in. Ades's face was fascinating to watch as he conducted - not something you'd see in the concert hall at Snape - it was filled with the joy, the pleasure of making music.
Monday 23 June
To The Rugby Tavern, London, for the launch of two new chapbooks from Shearsman and readings by two fine poets, Martyn Crucefix and Robert Vas Dias. Crucefix's subtle poems in The Time We Turned explore memory and the Cumbrian landscape.
Vas Dias's Arrivals & Departures brings together his prose poems. Reading Crucefix on the bus home, I was reminded of the power of the unpunctuated line; Vas Dias reminded me what fun you can have with a short prose piece.
Tuesday 24 June
To Keat's House, Hampstead for the launch of the latest issue of Poetry Review - refreshing interlude, indeed. Evening sun in a beautiful garden, meeting other poets, sipping wine, before going inside to hear some stunningly fresh poems. Sean Hewitt and Sarah Howe are both young poets to watch and it was interesting to watch Simon Armitage watching them read. Doesn't seem a moment since he was the 'young poet to watch' and there he was, the voice of experience.
Sarah Howe described her work as 'hybrid, like me, half Chinese, half English. They are somewhere between a poem and a footnote.'
Sean Hewitt's rich lyric poems took us deep into the woods.
Simon Armitage's reading took us back to his childhood, that watchful boy up on the moors above Marsden, West Yorkshire. There was an elegaic quality to some of these deeply felt and pin-point accurate lines. As if to lift the mood, and to remind us that he also has a
sense of humour, he ended by reading 'Bringing It All Back Home' from Seeing Stars. It was a treat to hear him read from that marvellous book, and it reminded me, for the second time this week, of the power and potential of the prose poem. I shall be re-reading Seeing Stars and look forward to my copy of Poetry Review, due through the letterbox any day.
Earlier in the evening we had a further treat as the winner of the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize was announced - Mir Mahfuz Ali. He gave a powerful reading of 'MIG-21 Raids at Shegontola'. The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize is awarded to the best poem published in Poetry Review during the year by a poet who hasn’t published a full collection at the time their work appeared in the magazine.
Mir Mahfuz Ali now has a collection, just out from Seren, Midnight, Dhaka. Another one to add to my reading pile. Well, if the weather changes, I've plenty of creative company to keep indoors.