So: it happened! It certainly did. Thanks to all the people who came to the first Poetry Symposium and made it a success. Pictures of everyone that read should be here (https://mobile.twitter.com/CarlislePoetry) or here (https://m.facebook.com/groups/1458436297731828/?ref=group_header&view=group). The buzz in the room of writers and publishers talking together was a brilliant thing to listen to. Please follow up the links (elsewhere on the blog, or easily found by internet search) to submit to Speakeasy volume 3, Southlight, or to find out more about Handstand Press.
First, huge thanks to the students that gave up their time to help run the bookshop, take pictures, post on social media, wash up, carry chairs, read their work alongside established writers and (crucially) listening to Cumbria’s contemporary poets. More than one person I spoke to was impressed that so many young writers contributed to the event. Whitney Houston says they are the future, so they must be. So, huge thanks to Jonathan, Katie, Lucy, Savanna, Hannah, Mollie and Ruby.
Next up, thanks to all the open mic readers. It was really important that the event was inclusive. Some time ago I read an extract from PN Review at Speakeasy that argued that the only way of getting an accurate picture of -say- sport in an area you would need to list EVERY sports club that exists at every level. I suppose that must have been the first seed of the Symposium. I think there are several gaps in the poetry mechanism that would be filled by moneymakers, if poetry made any money. In the absence of these blood-sucking leeches, we must support and promote ourselves. After post-rock (I’ll wait here while you google it) my musical love is post-punk (no, I’ll wait). Not punk. But all three of these musics depended upon a DIY approach. Simon Reynolds’ ‘Rip it Up and Start Again’ was another start point for yesterday’s Symposium.
After this, I have to thank the listeners. I was overjoyed that we had so many. Listeners are like gold dust at poetry events. Most poetry launches in London include open mic, to swell the audience. The reasons for that don’t need writing here. I was touched that some fine writers only wanted to spend the day listening for pleasure yesterday. Special thanks to one listener who was missing out on watching the cup final to take a reader home! Thanks to another who battled through car trouble to come because she loves to hear poetry read.
A few special mentions now. Massive thanks to Mike Smith and Marilyn Messenger. When I blurted out my idea one night for a poetry event I envisaged the dingy, unused room of a failing country pub being offered to us for free and having an audience of 3 (including at least one dog). Thanks to the kindness of others – including Darren Harper, we had a lovely venue, great readers and a great crowd. Thanks also go to Mike for the seamless and professional running of the pop-up bookshop. I think it took nearly 400 pounds for the writers at the event!
The more obvious bit now. Our Featured Writers were outstanding. I’d like to write about them all separately in terms of their brilliance so I will – in different posts. Thanks to those who travelled a long way to read (I hope you all sold some books!). In the order of their appearance, thanks to Annie, Mike, Nick, Vivien, Angus, Alan, Jenny and Josephine.
Great to hear suggestions about how we could tweak and develop the Symposium. Shall we look into a winter date?