Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day reading

This was the line-up at Tuesday night's poetry reading at the Herbert Gallery in Coventry, celebrating International Women's Day. From right to left: Kim Trusty, Jane Holland, Pascale Petit, Zoe Brigley, Helen Ivory and Esther Morgan. And I'd just like to say that's water in those glasses on the table. Mainly water.

Kim Trusty is a well-known international performance poet, now living in Birmingham; she read a mixture of old and new pieces in her inimitable style, poems of personal and social commentary, and managed to pack a real punch in the ten minute slot each poet had been alloted.

I was up next and read one poem called 'Sleep' from my first collection 'The Brief History of a Disreputable Woman', published by Bloodaxe, followed by a selection of more recently written poems and three pieces from a long sequence of poems about the life and death of Boudicca, a work I am still developing.

Pascale Petit, one of the Next Generation Poets, read last in the first half of the event. Both her first collection from Seren, 'The Zoo Father', and her latest book 'The Huntress' were shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Her poems are powerful and visceral, dealing with her problematic relationship with both parents. Gifted with a highly individual voice, Pascale plans to focus on developing her career as a poet now she has left Poetry London, which she edited from 1989-2005.

In the second half, Welsh poet Zoe Brigley took us into new territory, bravely using music to underscore some of her poetry, with the help of an accompanying musician and her own drumming. Zoe teaches at Warwick University and you can read her interesting teaching blog with useful poetry links here.

Helen Ivory is a Bloodaxe poet. Although published when she was still quite young, her first collection 'The Double Life of Clocks' won critical acclaim, and her newly published second collection, 'The Dog in the Sky' seems to have followed in its footsteps. She entertained the audience with technically accomplished poems of personal experience, filled with wry anecdotal humour. You can read more about her here.

In the unenviable position of having to read last, Esther Morgan nevertheless demonstrated why her poetry has brought her considerable attention. She has two full-length collections out with Bloodaxe, her first 'Beyond Calling Distances' and now 'The Silence Living in Houses'. This last book is themed around ghosts and absences and possesses a strong a sense of history; the poems she chose to read had a strong narrative drive, well-written and intriguing. You can find out more about Esther Morgan on the Bloodaxe website here.

This was a superb Coventry event held right in the city centre, and organised with the collaboration of various parties including the Heaventree Press and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. The venue was packed out, in spite of the bad weather, and I hope there will be more Coventry events like this in the future.

If you're interested in live poetry events like this, click here to visit my other site listing poetry in performance and readings across the UK, Poets On Fire.


Jacob Sam-La Rose said...

Hey Jane - sounds like it was a great reading. When are you next down in London? ;)

Editor: Jane Holland said...

Probably next Thursday (March 16th) to hear Andre Mangeot et al doing a FourCast reading at the Poetry Society. I've just posted something up about that on the POETS ON FIRE site.

Nice to hear from you, Jacob. Hope you're enjoying the blog(s).

Yeah, it was a pretty good reading in Coventry. I was on form, though I say it myself. Better than the rather muted reading I did with you at FourCast. A bit odd though, just being women. I'm used to a more mixed bag of poets at readings. But I have no political objection to women-only line-ups or women-only anthologies. And there were men in the audience ...

Lol. All the best, Jane