Guest Post 4
My fourth guest-post by Nicola J Vincent; an amazing wordsmith and member of Wrekin Writers. We first met at the LOROS bash at the Guildhall and I was really impressed by her writing. Historic, atmospheric, alive. Here she reports back from a poetry festival attended by a gaggle of laureates past and present. A better place for poets is hard to imagine.
In Close-Up: The Wenlock Poetry Festival
Call me shallow but it was shoes, rather than more literary interests, that lured me to the Wenlock Poetry Festival one weekend in April. A workshop entitled ‘In Close-up: Shoes’, led by the poet Gill McEvoy, intrigued me from the moment I noticed it in the programme of events. After all, if shopping for shoes figures among my preferred pastimes, then surely writing about them must come a close second?
I wasn’t disappointed. Gill was knowledgeable (about poetry and shoes, revealing a personal passion – perhaps that should read obsession? – for red boots), enthusiastic and, importantly, encouraging. By the end of the two-hour session, I had produced a couple of half-decent poems and learnt rather a lot about the history of shoes.
The workshop was the highlight for me in a weekend that delivered what it promised: a celebration of the brightest and best of today’s poetry scene, to paraphrase the words of the festival founder, Anna Dreda, the owner of the award-winning Wenlock Books. With Carol Ann Duffy as patron, it was clear that the first Wenlock Poetry Festival would be something special.
The programme featured a range of workshops and events (for young and old), including readings by Roger McGough, Daljit Nagra and Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales. Clearly, much as I would have liked to, I couldn’t attend every event. I decided to focus largely on the poets with whose work I am personally less familiar.
So, on the morning of Saturday 10th April, I found myself at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock for a reading by Imtiaz Dharker. Inspiring, uplifting and thought-provoking, the event set the standard for the rest of the festival. Next on my schedule was Daljit Nagra who read from his acclaimed Look We Have Coming to Dover! I was fascinated to learn that, despite his success and growing reputation, he still works part-time as a teacher.
The following morning, in the perhaps unlikely (but actually rather perfect) setting of the Methodist Hall, I had the pleasure of listening to a mix of poetry and music by the Welsh poet, Paul Henry. This was followed by a reading by Philip Gross, winner of the 2009 T S Eliot Prize. His work I Spy Pinhole Eye, a collaboration with the photographer Simon Denison, has changed forever the way I will look at electricity pylons!
The festival ended with a powerful dramatisation of Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife by Linda Marlow. When Anna Dreda took to the stage afterwards to announce exciting plans for the future of the Wenlock Poetry Festival, I already knew that, for me, it will be an unmissable date on next year’s calendar.
Posted on May 14, 2010, in Guest Posts and tagged Anna Dreda, Carol Ann Duffy, Daljit Nagra, Gill McEvoy, Gillian Clarke, John Gorman, Linda Marlow, Nicola Vincent, Paul Henry, Philip Gross, Poetry, Wenlock Poetry Festival. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.