Monday, 14 July 2008

Poems & Photographs: a Warwick Exhibition

A much-discussed project will be going ahead this summer, namely a poetry and photography collaboration between myself and the Leamington Spa Artist in Residence, Anand Chhobra.

Anand will be taking photographs around the town and castle of Warwick over the next few weeks, and I will then write some poems to accompany them. We expect there to be between 15 and 20 poems in total at this stage, but that figure may change as the project moves ahead.

The resulting collaboration will be exhibited at Art & Wine, a new and vibrant Warwick art gallery, during the weekend of the Warwick Words Festival in early October. The exhibition is being run in connection with my year-long Warwick Poet Laureateship which ends that month.

It's a challenging but exciting concept, having to combine my words with someone else's images. I've written poems about individual photographs before, of course, but never experienced quite the same collaborative spirit from the inception of a project. So anything could happen ...

Please watch this blog for further details of when you can view the resulting exhibition.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

At the Godiva Festival: Cov's answer to Glastonbury!

I performed on stage last night at the Godiva Festival in Coventry's Memorial Park, two tents down from Cov's favourite band, The Enemy. I also happened to be in the Artist Liaison tent, getting my free food voucher, at the same time as some of the young band members and their families were picking up their backstage passes. My teenage daughter, who's a big fan of The Enemy, now apparently 'hates' me for not arranging a backstage pass for her too!

It was an excellent reading to a massive and appreciative crowd - if a bit 'Glastonbury' at times, thanks to the heavy rain, mud slicks everywhere, and a sudden electrical short in the generator part-way through the unfortunate performer's set immediately before mine. There was a ten minute pause, while people danced about in the noisy semi-darkness and slow-clapped, then the lights came back on and suddenly it was my turn at the mic.

I warmed up the crowd, now rather frisky, with two short poems from my next book, Camper Van Blues (Salt Publishing, 2008): 'Day Tripping', about drug abuse, and 'Neighbours' (just published in Mimesis 4) about the downside of being a lone female traveller.

I then read two pieces from my first collection of poetry, The Brief History of a Disreputable Woman (Bloodaxe, 1997): 'Baize Queens', about my days as a semi-pro snooker player, and 'Not a Love Poem'.

To finish the ten minute set, I read my party piece - an extract from The Lament of the Wanderer, my version of the Anglo-Saxon poem, just published as a chapbook by Coventry's Heaventree Press, who were hosting last night's event.

Other readers in the poetry tent included the great Linton Kwesi Johnson and such stalwarts of the British poetry circuit as Dreadlockalien (aka Richard Grant), Mario Petrucci, Kei Miller, Mike McKimm, Yusra Warsama, Coventry's own Scrubber Jack, plus two excellent Irish poets visiting from Cork, Paul Casey and Billy Ramsell.