It was great to be back at the Burgess centre, where I’ve performed many times, once sniffing Anthony Burgess’ ‘ashes’ from the stage floor. It began to feel like a tour, travelling to manchester from norwich with leonce lupette, sophie carolin wagner and the other portable europoets. We were given a warm welcome, not least by martin kratz and the other folk from the new manchester poetry library who helped make this event happen. The pairings worked very well, there was some remarkable collaborations, truly collaborative performances. Subjects included sycophantic poetry blurbs, obscure norwegian footballers, the human splits and spam emails, fruit destruction, handwritten t-shirt poetry, competitive collaboration and dire warnings about the future of england beyond europe.
All the videos and more https://www.europeanpoetryfestival.com/manchester
The only small downside was the relatively disappointing attendance – probably chance Saturday with easter holidays beginning – and that this led, organically, to a small sense of the poets, us, reading a bit to each other. This is cool, but when it becomes defining, it’s offputting. When readings or scenes are defined by their insider jokes it makes me feel I’m part of a secret society congratulating itself, which is the very opposite of what I want. I want everyone, sincerely, to feel welcome, included, even if they know no one in the room, and to be exposed to difficult, complex, ambiguous, amusing and often volatile work, all the more because the context of the content is warm and open. And in fact it was like this in Manchester, it just whiffed past the other feeling to me. On the Sunday following, as I was flying to Dublin, I reflected that I had probably finally gotten a little tired, a little less present and alive, for I was surrounded by real friends – Tom Jenks, Colin Herd, Christodoulos Makris, Harry Man, Leonce Lupette, Kim Campanello – people I’ve known well and deeply for many years, whom I respect greatly and it was an exceptional event.