3 minutes reading time (687 words)

WHAT TO DO WHEN ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE AT A POETRY FESTIVAL AND YOU ARE NOT

Easy. Here’s a festival I made earlier.

Last Saturday afternoon when I was not at Aldeburgh and was waiting for a grandbaby to arrive (he showed up on Sunday morning), I went to this mini festival. It’s a mixture of reading and listening. It takes about an hour. Too long for you, reading at speed on the interweb, I know. But no matter. I had a lovely time and I recommend the experience. I’m sorry some of the participants are posthumous. Please add your own guest events in the comments boxes.

Festival Appearances

nb sometimes these sites run slow, or don’t connect for a few seconds. Think of this as a slightly delayed appearance. They’ll show up eventually.

Opening gig: raise your spirits with ten minutes of Matt Harvey from TedxTotnes. A love poem to a tea-bag, ‘What are you?’ and ‘A hymn to hands’. (9.17 mins)

Now three visits to the Poetry Archive

First a brief extract from an interview with Ruth Pitter, who speaks about ‘the noble obscurity of poetry’, and then goes on to read one of my favourite poems of all time, ‘If You Came’ (Just over 3 minutes)

And next Hilaire Belloc reading, or really singing, Tarantella. How extraordinary! (1.5 mins)

And finally Dannie Abse reading ‘In the Theatre’. He talks about the background to this extraordinary poem first. (About 3 mins). The brain and soul. Once heard never forgotten.

A short break from poetry but still in the weirdness that is poetryland. A short lecture on LIfshin by Daniel Nester (this is really an essay, I’m afraid, but it’s so beautifully conversational it is like a short talk: Rejection Slip? What Rejection Slip?

Back to the stage. The ultimate in performance from Marina Abramovitch, (3.37 mins), with music. I’m giving you the music version because it tells you the backstory. I adore this woman. Makes me cry every time. And the lyrics are lovely.

Interval
Okay, we need to come down from that intensity, so a little bit of reading, in the quiet on your own. Think of this as a walk away from the hubbub. I’m taking a bag of chopped up bread with me. ‘From troubles of the world I turn to ducks’ by F.W. Harvey – such a lovely face, he had. ‘Yes, ducks are valiant things’. (2 mins?) And while we’re out by the pond, you might like to unscroll your copy of Trees by Joyce Kilmer. You can read it in half a minute or so, but you’ll want to read it twice of course.

Back to the theatre. The other thing about the web is that poets can be in two places at once. So not just in Aldeburgh but here online is Kei Miller with Unsung (1.38 mins). Uplifting, right?

So the ultimate uplift, from Maya Angelou, And still I rise. (2.52 mins)

Not just English: This festival is not just limited to one language. It can do more. I was enchanted by this bit of Baudelaire, read slowly enough for me to get it. (2.07 mins)

And a little Tom Duddy, who recorded very little during his lifetime, but this magical poem can be heard in his own voice: ‘The Touch’. (2.21.)

More performance: so many politicians talking at us. Hannah Silva says it all, without exactly saying it. (3.21)

Discussion, with music. Aldeburgh was on my mind and winter, and this brought me to a recording of Peter pears and Benjamin Britten peforming from and talking about Die Winterreise. You could listen to all of it, or just a bit. (12.44). A marvellous piece of film.

The Final Billing: headliners Edna St Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, Stevie Smith and W H Auden.

  • Love is not all’, Edna St Vincent Millay (1.29 mins)
  • One Perfect Rose’, Dorothy Parker (c 1 min)
  • Stevie Smith, my hero, with Tenuous and Precarious (1 min)
  • And that bit of film produced by the post office and making this bit of Auden famous for all time: ‘Night Mail’. (3.53) Practically an elegy really, now that nobody writes letters any more. (Well, I do. Sometimes.)

 

 

 

 

POETRY, OPOIs AND MOON-WALKING BEARS
ON GOOD FORM
 

Comments 7

Guest - Brigid Sivill on Sunday, 15 November 2015 12:33

Oh brilliant! I am not going to mourn the readings and happenings any more. I will make my own festival whenever I feel lonely in my silent countryside and rolling fields. I might even invite the raptors from their nest in the oak trees and join in and read something to them. Thanks Helena - such a good reminder - and enjoy the baby.

Oh brilliant! I am not going to mourn the readings and happenings any more. I will make my own festival whenever I feel lonely in my silent countryside and rolling fields. I might even invite the raptors from their nest in the oak trees and join in and read something to them. Thanks Helena - such a good reminder - and enjoy the baby.
Guest - pippa little on Sunday, 15 November 2015 16:13

You are a treasure, Helena Nelson! What a splendid idea! Thank you for your choices (Tom Duddy's own reading most of all, Marina A., Ruth Pitter...) What more could I want on a grey darkening Sunday afternoon!

You are a treasure, Helena Nelson! What a splendid idea! Thank you for your choices (Tom Duddy's own reading most of all, Marina A., Ruth Pitter...) What more could I want on a grey darkening Sunday afternoon!
Guest - Charlotte Gann on Sunday, 15 November 2015 16:28

Thanks from me too. A feast! Much enjoyed...

Thanks from me too. A feast! Much enjoyed...
Guest - Becky Gethin on Sunday, 15 November 2015 17:14

what a treat!

what a treat!
Guest - Helen Evans on Sunday, 15 November 2015 17:16

Thank you so much, Nell – some old favourites and some new delights here. Just what I needed today.

Thank you so much, Nell – some old favourites and some new delights here. Just what I needed today.
Guest - Gill McEvoy on Sunday, 15 November 2015 18:33

Enjoyed the essay on Lifshin - delightful. Sometimes Po festivals, great as they are, are too much_ too much choice, too much running about between venues, too exciting (or disappointing), you spend too much cash, you buy books you have no room for...a lot of too muchness! Brigid, be happy in your quiet rolling fields! Even so I shall always go to Ledbury Po festival : I love this one; it makes me feel happy!

Enjoyed the essay on Lifshin - delightful. Sometimes Po festivals, great as they are, are too much_ too much choice, too much running about between venues, too exciting (or disappointing), you spend too much cash, you buy books you have no room for...a lot of too muchness! Brigid, be happy in your quiet rolling fields! Even so I shall always go to Ledbury Po festival : I love this one; it makes me feel happy!
Guest - Clare Best on Sunday, 22 November 2015 15:25

Hooray!! for every kind of poetry festival. Thank you Nell. X

Hooray!! for every kind of poetry festival. Thank you Nell. X
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Tuesday, 22 May 2018