Apart from Liz Berry (who won the prize for best single poem) I'd never heard of the other poets. Maybe I'm not reading widely enough (obviously). I enjoyed Fiona Benson's poem - like Berry's it was about motherhood and I hoped one of these poets would win!
Maybe I wasn't in the right mood, I don't know but when did poetry get so angry? Okay, I know it can be/should be passionate but I have to say I was rather stunned. There was an awful lot of reaction to things and I was rather baffled. I began to think I know nothing about poetry. This was different to what I tended to read and they were experiences I'd had none of, though obviously for the poets they meant a great deal and they received loud applause. Me? I was quiet and not sure how to react. Some poems were more like stories and I felt I needed to read these poems for myself, quietly to try and take them in. So I bought the book with collection of poems, including other shortlisted poets and highly commended, poets who did not read on the night. I felt that was a better way to understand what poetry is today.
Of the other poets who read I'd like to know more of Will Harris....there is something I need to explore maybe. In the category for Best First Collection Kaveh Akbar was certainly of the performance variety with his scary eyes and shock of hair tumbling one side then the other. Some of his lines were amusing and I may explore his poetry. The winner in that category was Phoebe Power.
In the last section for Best Collection I took to Danez Smith, the winner (a cheeky chappie) who threw himself into his performance! Certainly there was passion there.
These poets, I guess, are the elite. They've been published in the big named magazines, some have had collection before and those on their first are no doubt on to better things. I felt far away from this poetry altogether, apart from the motherhood ones, maybe because I can identify with that. Whatever, something was at work inside of me because the following morning I woke with words in my head and I had to get up early to write. I drafted several poems! Being in these atmospheres around other poets and writers is inspiring, even though this time I didn't think it was! I obviously have much to learn about poetry and hopefully some of that passion will rub off on me eventually.
The Free Verse Poetry Book & Magazine Fair (22nd September)
I didn't stay to hear any readings this year. These were free and ran about every half hour. They included poets from Seren Books, Bare Fiction, Overstep Books and Burning Eye. There were 15 readings in all running until about 4.30pm. There were also two workshops running (paid and booked in advance) and a gala reading at 7.30pm which was a paid entry event. The entry to the festival was free. Although I didn't stay very long I came away with enough to keep me reading for a while and an empty purse!