Wednesday, 13 October 2010

 The Manor House, Ilkley

I don’t know.  This was a starter phrase, a warm-up, for one of Michele Roberts' writing exercises in the workshop I managed to get into, last week at the Ilkley Literature Festival.  Michele describes her style of workshop teaching as ‘bullying’!  But I wasn’t complaining – we all wrote, and wrote, and wrote.  And she left us with plenty of further work to continue at home. That's what I call a really satisfying workshop.

Antony Dunn, the poet in residence for the festival, introduced our over-50s group to some ways of incorporating a life event into poetry.  The workshop was definitely fun as well as productive.  Now the younger end, the 11 or 12-year olds, are working on our events to write their poems, whilst we will get their material to write our poems.  It’s intriguing.

If you didn’t go to the see Carol Ann Duffy perform, along with John Sampson, you missed such a treat.  Carol Ann is a sharp, witty, entertaining poet with a strong feminist element whilst John is an amazingly talented player of all sorts of modern and very old whistle type instruments.  This was the first time I’d seen someone play two whistle instruments at the same time, and not even playing the same notes …

They performed alternately, and then John played Danny Boy with Carol Ann reading a poem to match the haunting melody.  Perfect.  For an hour and a quarter I was thoroughly absorbed and the large audience in the Kings Hall all seemed equally so.  Apart from the three people on my row who left before the beginning of the performance – quick to judge or what?  They can’t have been at the ‘wrong’ show as they would have had to show their tickets to get in …

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