Live Canon 2013 poetry performance and prize giving

I’m chuffed to be among such good company in the Live Canon 2013 anthology. Congratulations to Tessa Foley who won the competition with a great poem, ‘Love Story’. And to Doreen Hinchliffe who won the borough prize with ‘Arachne’s Gift’.

My brother was playing a game to see if he could guess which poem was mine while it was being read. He had an inkling at the last line of Poet’s Corner ‘beyond the shore, where the waves are silent’. Great to catch up with him and my sis-in-law at such a good natured event.

I was also lucky to chat with some very talented poets. Isabel Rogers’ ‘The Cost of Living’ showed us the reality behind a political catchphrase. Josephine Corcoran’s ‘Thanks for not switching me off’ explored the inner experience of a patient on life support. David Bowe’s ‘Golem’ and Oona Chantrell’s ‘Vanishing Marsh’ were fascinating, mysterious incantations and very much up my street. All of the poems will bear many readings.

Glyn Maxwell, returning as this year’s judge, talked about how instructive it is seeing and hearing your words interpreted by an actor’s body. Helen Eastman did a brilliant job of bringing it all together and entertaining a room full of nervous poets. No mean feat. The performances were brilliant, as can be expected from Live Canon.

The competition anthology is available to buy from Amazon.

Return to Live Canon

I’ve been shortlisted for this year’s Live Canon poetry competition. Live Canon is a troupe of actors led by Helen Eastman. As well as an annual competition, they memorise and perform older poems you might not hear read aloud often. Their next show is a performance of Sweet Ways the World Ends, a piece specially written by Glyn Maxwell for Live Canon. It’s being performed this month and described as somewhere between ‘a poem, a play and a party’. Check out for tickets.

I’ve been shortlisted in this competiton a couple of times before. There’s a recital at Greenwich Theatre where the hopeful poems are performed. It’s surprising the rush you get when an actor recites something you’ve written from the stage. In 2011, I’d invested so much of myself (and the previous summer) in ‘The Clay Body’ it was really very moving. A release from the private world of the poem.

One of the great things about last year’s event was that I’ve managed to stay in loose contact with a few of the poets via Twitter, one of whom, Isabel Rogers, is shortlisted again. Andrew McMillan won with a great poem that year. I have commitments this month but I’m hoping to attend the performance and maybe meet a few more poets come the big day. I’m happy to be on the list again.

The living word

I’ve been shortlisted for the Live Canon 2012 poetry competition. The brilliant thing about this competition is that you get to see your poem, and those of the other hopefuls, performed by some great actors. Humour, darkness and beauty all shine more brightly in the embodiment and interpretation that actors can breathe into a piece.

My poem is ‘Weather’. Last year I was shortlisted with ‘The Clay Body’ and seeing that long poem performed on stage is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had when it comes to writing. You can check out the full shortlist on the Live Canon website. This inventive troupe do a lot to promote poetry of all eras.

Bat hunting

Tonight was my second poetry workshop with Joe and Hugh. While you might normally go to the pub to chat and catch up, it’s good to meet with the feeling of purpose a workshop session brings. That shared sense of purpose you get from meeting other writers has re-energised me, adding a social dimension to what is otherwise a solitary pursuit. It’s great to read their work and try between us to elucidate something about the craft.

We rounded off the night by hunting bats using Joe’s echolocation detector. This impressive gizmo translated bat calls into a range that we could hear. We watched pipistrelles fly under the bridge, snatching moths above the river and spinning through streetlights, and all the while we were eavesdropping on their high frequency chatter. A hidden language made briefly perceptible.

The Dark Horse

I’ve polished six of my best recent poems and sent them for consideration by one of my favourite journals, The Dark Horse. Well worth subscribing if you don’t already.