I've had a fabulous weekend at the Kendal Poetry Festival - one of the Lake District's newest literature festivals, put together by poets Kim Moore and Pauline Yarwood. I'm completely exhausted because this was one festival where I wanted to spend every minute I could glued to my chair, and it was a thirty mile each way journey through the Cumbrian fells to get there!
|Kim on the left and Pauline on the right|
and there was also a Young Musician in Residence, trumpet player David Griffiths.
There was strong showing from Florence Jones, Eleanor Miekle, Elizabeth Briggs, Bethany Latham, Emily Humble and Chimwemwe Chirwa. I expect we'll be hearing some of these names again in the future. The encouragement of young talent is one of the most valuable things that the Wordsworth Trust is doing.
|Some of the headline acts, Clare Shaw, Andrew Forster, Mir Mahfuz Ali, Fiona Sampson|
Hilda Sheehan, Helen Mort, Greta Stoddard and Ann Sansom
Helen Mort read from her knock-out collection No Map Could Show Them, just published. The poems are inspired by the history of female mountain climbers, who are sometimes metaphors for something else. Helen is a brilliant and entertaining reader as well as one of the most accomplished contemporary poets. She was reading alongside Mir Mahfuz Ali, a Bengali poet living in the UK, whose poetry is unashamedly political, addressing violent events in the Middle East and closer to home - events he has first-hand knowledge of, since a bullet damaged his vocal chords. His first collection Midnight, Dhaka, has had brilliant reviews.
On Saturday there were writing workshops with Ann and Peter Sansom of the poetry business, who also read together in the evening, and an open mike event hosted by the Dove Cottage Young Poets. One of my favourite readings was the afternoon session with Clare Shaw and Hilda Sheehan. Hilda reduced the audience to helpless laughter and Clare moved us to tears. They are both fabulous performers - totally owning their work and pitching it to the audience with expert, confident delivery. Hilda Sheehan has a new collection out, The Night my Sister Went to Hollywood (Cultured Llama Press) and Clare Shaw's latest collection is Head On published by Bloodaxe. The night finished with a lively open mike slot at the Brewery Arts Centre - Verbalise - another event sold out!
And then it was stumbling out into the grey damp evening to find my way home, my head full of words and buzzing with new ideas and my wallet empty after the temptations of the book stall and the pens and notebooks and other essential poetry-phanalia. I hope that Kim and Pauline get the funding to run a festival again next year, because this one was a knockout! Just what we needed in this rural backwater, where you have to travel a long way to listen to poetry. I recommend getting your tickets early for next year's event as the readings sold out very quickly this time.
Next week I'll be featuring poems by Kim Moore and Pauline Yarwood, who modestly refrained from reading anything of their own all weekend.