What a fantastic poetry reading at Maryport’s ‘Settlement’ today. Poet and editor Kelly Davis put together an excellent session of superb readers. Sad not to have Nick there, but having the chance to read one of his poems, and listening to Kelly read ‘English Ghost Dance’ was a moving experience. It seems churlish to highlight only one reader, so I will try to highlight them all!

Mike Smith read widely from his work; my personal favourite was the suite of ‘Martin’ poems; you can buy the book from Mike’s blog, you know. So many of the writers are featured in the new Handstand Press anthology – a powerful force for Cumbrian work and an impressively produced artefact.

I really like the word ‘lonning’ (as sharp-eyed Soundcloud fans will know), so Hazel Stewart’s poem ‘Lonning Lullaby’ was a delight to hear. It was also fantastic to hear work by Elizabeth Stott, Juliet Fossey  and Diane Dobson – I will look out for their work elsewhere. I always enjoy Kelly Davis’ work and I’m glad that she read her own, as welll as other people’s; her work always has a sliver of eeriness to me, which I love. She also read ‘Norman Nicholson on the Ratty’ by Speakeasy’s Tony Hendry (one of ‘us’ there – and one of us that is widely published) which I loved hearing in the context of the day. Another of my highlights was hearing Kerry Darbishre’s work (especially the poem about her mother – perhaps someone could tell me if it’s published anywhere?) and hear her read work from Geraldine Green’s most recent volume.

It was also brilliant to hear Angela Locke read her (royally-appointed) work – I particularly enjoyed her poem ‘Fibula’. I met Alison Barr before the event and it was good to put a face to the poems that I selected to go in Speakeasy Magazine Volume 2. I liked the tightly controlled but palpable anger in her poems about the way industry dominated the lives of families in the north of England and in Scotland. I also now want to track down more poems by Felicity Crowley, who read her own and some from Richard Longstaff. Last to report was another Speakeasy stalwart, Barbara Renel who read ‘at the still point, there the dance is’ from Speakeasy Magazine Volume 1 excellently, with nods towards its geraniums one of many links to the Nicholson poem that Barbara read so well.

I hope I haven’t missed anyone! It was a strong roster! And it was excellently organised. And the readers got sandwiches…

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