Ys

Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

(You are very much not forgotten)

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Now, that was a fascinating experience (or, StAnza 2009).
Tea in blue
ajodasso
StAnza this year: far more eye-opening and in-your-face than last year's! Friday's Jay Parini lecture on the theme of Homecoming was lively, funny, and enjoyable. After that, I attended the Julia Copus / Alan Gillis reading, which was fascinating in that I had heard plenty about Copus, all the awards she's won over time, etc., but came away from her reading somewhat nonplussed. Even after glancing at some of her work in situ on the page, I decided that she wasn't one of those poets I'd end up pursuing much further (but maybe I'll change my mind, who knows). Gillis, on the other hand, genuinely intrigued me. I won't say I enjoyed all of his pieces, but I remember lines from about half of them, which is always a sign that somebody's left an impression on me.

The Bill Manhire / Simon Armitage reading that evening was, I'd say, one of the highlights. I'd never even heard of Manhire (who hails from New Zealand), but his all-around quirkiness was an absolute pleasure. Armitage, now - I've been aware of him as a poet for quite some time, and the only book of his I'd previously owned was his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (because, as Vice President of Pearl-Poet Society, I feel some twisted obligation to own every translation I can track down). I'd flipped through a few of his collections back when I worked at Borders, and had generally, genuinely liked what I'd seen - but my overarching brokeness had prevented me from purchasing any. Can I just say, my first reaction when he walked out on stage was, Wow - he's younger than I'd been imagining him. My second thought was, He's quite tall! And when he opened his mouth, my third thought was, I could listen to this guy all night. He's got a quiet, unassuming manner, but it draws you inexorably in, and you don't quite know why.

Saturday: I'd been fortunate enough to get a ticket to the roundtable with Armitage, which was a small (only twelve tickets were sold; only nine of us showed up), intimate reading at the Preservation Trust Museum. We were all sat around a wooden table in a quiet, antiquated upper room of the building, and it felt a lot like some of the master classes and workshops I've attended in the past, minus the fact that Armitage was the only one who'd brought poetry to read. It was, however, intended to foster free discussion, and when it turned out that excerpts from SGGK were exactly what he planned on reading, wow, I ended up participating in the discussion far more than I'd initially planned on doing (because if you start talking about the process of translating and actually getting your hands on the Cotton Nero A.x., I'm all eyes, ears, and eager tongue). I feel a lot better knowing he got turned away by the archivists on his first try to get a look at it, too! And I got to read out some West Midlands dialect Middle English to everybody so they'd have a point of comparison against the sound of the Modern English. And I do wonder if I'll be one of those innumerable poets to translate this work at some future date. Heaven knows I've wanted to ever since I first set eyes on it as an undergraduate.

That evening was the Patience Agbabi / Carol Ann Duffy reading, and I have to say, Agbabi was by and far the brightest star in that setting. I adore Duffy's work on the page, but again, as with Copus, there was something in the delivery that failed to completely engage me. Agbabi, on the other hand, was just...oh, how could anyone in that audience not love her? She was so unbelievably warm, so open, so strong. Run, don't walk, to get a copy of this woman's newest collection (and see her read if you can)!

You won't be able to take your eyes off her, either.


York Council temp pool emailed me last week to ask if I was interested in a nine-week maternity cover gig that was set to start today. Yes, I said - absolutely. By Thursday, I'd heard nothing further, so I emailed to say, hey, what's going on? And they said, oh, well, there's one other person in the runnings for it, and it's down to the manager of that department to decide. Fine, I said; thanks for the update. Then, three more days go by, and still, I hear nothing. So, I dropped them an anxious line this morning asking if I was due to turn up anywhere and hadn't been notified, and they wrote back saying, oh, sorry, we should have told you, the manager picked the other candidate! Oops!

(Yeah, oops. Better luck next time, right? I'm so tired of this nonsense.)

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Sounds like a really great weekend - I felt quite envious as I read, yearning for a return of the physical & emotional stamina to cope with such events!

Sorry about the job.

I went to StAnza for the first time last year and was really impressed. For as long as I'm living in the UK, I'm going to try to make it for each one from here on out!

It sounds like a great weekend! I'm sorry it was followed by such dreadful behaviour by the council. Some hospitals have a similar bank/temp pool for admin staff, if you haven't tried that already.

Sadly, York Hospital doesn't seem to :-P

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