Progressive Poetry and a new festival in Yorkshire

I went to Cobbledy last week to listen to poets. There were many – around a hundred! A healthy turnout I would say. Mostly from Yorkshire.

I have much admiration for people who can stand up and perform their work, fill their poems with passion, expression and yes, make it poetry. The audience was cosy in both venues, a small group of people, keen to listen and  take part over the weekend. All very appreciative, all good listeners. It was really nice to see poetry alive and welcoming, It was good to hear empathy, anger, humour.

I couldn’t help but notice  that most of what I heard was nostalgic, reminiscent of old times – whether good or bad. So much was wonderfully working class – highly emotive, political – a blend of the mad, bad and funny.

I wondered if we were all hankering after a past which felt more empowering. It was, but only just. Our power was beginning to slide. We found ways to cling on to the good memories among the debris.

As I walked back down the cobbles I recalled the time spent in the old school room at parent and toddler group and how a few of us decided that something else was needed. We were a little bit forward thinking and created the very first under 5’s Woodcraft Folk group, hoping for a better way for our kids, an improved, progressive future.

What role does poetry have to play in our society today. I am always in search of the Fridas and Diegos. The artists who are not afraid of political expression. Over the weekend at this festival I heard such artists, unafraid to express their feelings, observations, experiences about the shafting of the working class, about racism, inequality and of course plenty of word play, clever twists and turns of lines.

Words are powerful. Poets know it. Be Frida. Be Diego.

What of futuristic poetry – it exists today. There was a movement in literature in the early part of the 20th century which started in Italy, all to do with futurism. We can create our kind in the 21st. The Brontes were futurists to, in their era, and their legacy still inspires us today.

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I wrote about this graveyard in The Book Ghosts. DSCF0482

Recycle Central – a poem

In Yorkshire there’s a saying – where’s there’s muck there’s brass. It’s a county which has always been very good at recycling, dealing with rubbish and finding a way to make a living from it. Rag and bone men, the horse and cart, salvage yards, vintage shops – all are rooted in this old industrial place and have thrived for decades. Trends come and go. But nothing is as certain as mekin somat outta nowt.

Recycle central

Industrial landscape

Long gone

Rattling refuse

Bottles vodka

Cans coke

Being revived

Bulk movement

Thundering ground

Scrapyard thriving

Snickets, ginnels

Blossom pavements

Willow screens

Silent beck

In ancient pollution

The beautiful game played

Above

A conveyor belt of metal

Humans in cans

Oblivious to sound

Shunt by

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Sneaky poetry

I like a notebook and pen, especially for doodling and writing poetic prose or whatever comes to mind. Scribbles, crossings-out, word play all come easily on paper.

In the middle of editing a poem this little thought appeared, all by itself, unrelated in content to the main body of words:

How to live this life

In a seasoned quiet

Without the sound

Of constant conversation

And this lovely illustration turned up  for Tigre le Dvou by Agata Kawa

Illustration for Tigre le Dvou by Agata Kawa