Monday, 10 October 2016

Winchester Poetry Festival - a weekend of poetry

Have just returned from the Winchester Poetry Festival. I only attended three events but I thoroughly enjoyed them. I had thought about booking two others once I was there, but one was was already fully booked and the other was on the afternoon I'd hoped to go and visit Jane Austen's house in Chawton. I'm afraid Jane won! (details of that and a walk will be on my other blog soon)

The first event I had booked was In Full-Throated Ease with poets Kim Moore, Ian Duhig and Sophie Hannah. I'd come across Kim Moore before and enjoyed listening to her poetry very much. Ian Duhig's name comes up frequently, though I'd never read any of his poetry, so it was good to hear him read. I have a collection of Sophie Hannah's poetry and she is also the writer of psychological crime fiction, though I confess I haven't read any of them. Her poetry was very amusing and the three poets together made a great opening night's entertainment.

On Saturday morning I was at Stanza's In Stone where Simon Armitage and Pip Hall talked about their collaboration in the South Pennines (a commission they received from Ilkley Literature Festival to write poems in response to the landscape). Simon wrote the poems and Pip carved them into stones at various points along the route. I was fascinated by the whole thing which was illustrated with photos. The detail, thought and sheer hard work that went into this project sounded all consuming. Pip was out there in all weathers tap, tapping away on stone. Simon read some of the poems he had written and Pip explained how she went about carving and working with the stone as well as difficulties she encountered along the way. It appears as if the route has become a pilgrimage for some and the stones seem to have been looked after. There is one stone which is out there somewhere, a much smaller one which is one the move. No one knows where it is! So if you are walking in the Pennines look out for it. There was time for a few questions from the audience but all too soon it was over. There is something about installation landscape art that appeals to me, whether it is by Simon Armitage or the likes of Antony Gormley and Andy Goldsworthy. I guess it's the working with nature I like. Working with it rather than against it is always good in my book.

The final event I attended was also the Poetry Festival's final event - The Sensual Ear with Tim Dee producer of BBC 4's Poetry Please and Roger McGough, the programme's presenter. Tim spoke about the programme, popular poems, how requests come with personal stories, and he ended with a short series of poem written by Andrew Motion about war which was adapted into a play. The seven minute long end piece was accompanied by music  and was both moving and absorbing to listen to.

Roger began his poetry reading with some literary poems but soon had us laughing with his more hilarious renditions. He was, as always, brilliant to listen to and a fitting end to the poetry weekend. There were a great many other events taking place, including workshops. If you would like to read about others hop over to Josephine Corcoran's website. She also has better photos than me! But here are mine anyway.

Kim Moore

Ian Duhig

Sophie Hannah

The Emergency Poet Ambulance!




Simon Armitage (Pip Hall in the centre, sorry there was a head in the way!)


Tim Dee
Roger McGough



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