Poets & Players

This is a fairly unexpurgated and long trumpet-blowing post but if you can't blow your own horn on your blog then where can you, eh?!

I was pleased to win the Poets & Players poetry competition this year and travelled to Manchester last weekend for the prize-giving and reading at the Whitworth Art Gallery. The sun was shining and I was met my friends which all made for a very pleasant time but I thought, objectively, it was a fantastic city - cosmopolitan, radical but also very distinctively itself without pretension - yes I saw a man walking a ferret but I also saw a lot more visible political awareness than perhaps in London - far fewer tourists and encountered a lot of friendly people and interesting architecture that reflected its history without sweetening it or somehow commodifying itself. I felt very southern in my voice and bearing, too.  But I digress..

The judge for this competition was the marvellous Pascale Petit, who has just become the first poet to win the RSL Ondaatje prize for her latest collection Mama Amazonica. It's an astonishing book rooted in the rainforest and the psychiatric ward and transforms the flora and fauna of the Amazonian rain forest to articulate something of her mother's suffering, and ideas of freedom and power. I don't know why but I had a gut feeling one night to send this poem off to the comp - I only entered one poem - and I am happy it has found an audience. Anyway, it was wonderful to meet her and talk with her and you can read the poems here.


I should say a bit about my poem, Familiars. It is almost prose but I tried to keep it lyrical too and it very much needs its stanzas to hold itself as a structure. It began with me imagining how I would reach certain loved ones through the veil of death, by turning myself into creatures such as an owl, a jackdaw and a hare. It is also quite a witchy poem in that it is interested in thought or intent becoming reality - in the same way a spell might work - and uses a line from a woman accused of witchcraft back in the 1660s -
I sall go until a hare / Wi sorrow and sick mickle care
I sall goe in the devil's name / An while I come home again.

 This sentiment is also echoed in this powerful song by Maddy Prior which blends almost mythical lyrics with some eighties synth action for a beguiling mix (imho).


here are some pics of the event and Pascale's comments  - thank you for reading - I hope you enjoyed the trumpet solo ;-)


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