Symposium Thoughts 1

Malcolm Carson plus headsI got asked to write a feature on the Symposium for a fanzine! And there’s a journalist coming to my house (!) to interview me today. Given that interest, I wanted to put down dome early thoughts.

I’d firstly like to thank everyone for their positive comments about the second Carlisle Poetry Symposium. After the May Symposium I tried to track back my favourite ‘moments’ from the event, but that is going to be too big a task or this event. I’ve had some brilliant feedback and some constructive thoughts, too. I will post up developments as they happen: but I would like to grow the Symposium over time. It might well be that, in time (i.e. years) it becomes a bigger event. And there’s been some discussion (following on from the panel on the day) about funding. The irony of poets talking about not getting paid for reading events they go to, whilst attending a free event at which they were not paid, was not lost on me – and I’m sure it wasn’t lost on anyone else. Sorry, too, if you had to sit on the picnic chairs from our garage! Even if the event does change over time, there are some things I would like to keep: I think the event needs to stay free; I think that people should be able to read open mic alongside ‘Featured Writers’; I think that poetry in the geographical north (or north west) needs infrastructural support; I think that everyone should be able to sell their work at the pop-up bookshop.

A word on the open mic. I’d just like to thank our open mic readers – whose details are limited here to just a first name sometimes. So, thank you to David, Peter, Felicity, James, Kelly, Tony, Alan, Alana, Phil, Savanna, Hannah, Mollie, Katie and Ruby. And huge thanks to Josephine (in the red hat above!) for rounding off the open mic section, although she wasn’t technically an ‘open mic’, because I asked her to close proceedings! At both Symposiums, our featured writers have taken the time to praise our younger poets particularly. The future of poetry is one thing, and the future of poets is quite another, but long may events live where all poets can attend an event with a democratic sense. Whatever the Symposium is, it needs to be the opposite of what I heard a famous poet say earlier this year: ‘I give readings… I don’t go to readings’.


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