Easy. Here’s a festival I made earlier.
Last Saturday afternoon when I was not at Aldeburgh and was waiting for a grandbaby to arrive (he showed up on Sunday morning), I went to this mini festival. It’s a mixture of reading and listening. It takes about an hour. Too long for you, reading at speed on the interweb, I know. But no matter. I had a lovely time and I recommend the experience. I’m sorry some of the participants are posthumous. Please add your own guest events in the comments boxes.
nb sometimes these sites run slow, or don’t connect for a few seconds. Think of this as a slightly delayed appearance. They’ll show up eventually.
Opening gig: raise your spirits with ten minutes of Matt Harvey from TedxTotnes. A love poem to a tea-bag, ‘What are you?’ and ‘A hymn to hands’. (9.17 mins)
Now three visits to the Poetry Archive
First a brief extract from an interview with Ruth Pitter, who speaks about ‘the noble obscurity of poetry’, and then goes on to read one of my favourite poems of all time, ‘If You Came’ (Just over 3 minutes)
And next Hilaire Belloc reading, or really singing, Tarantella. How extraordinary! (1.5 mins)
And finally Dannie Abse reading ‘In the Theatre’. He talks about the background to this extraordinary poem first. (About 3 mins). The brain and soul. Once heard never forgotten.
A short break from poetry but still in the weirdness that is poetryland. A short lecture on LIfshin by Daniel Nester (this is really an essay, I’m afraid, but it’s so beautifully conversational it is like a short talk: Rejection Slip? What Rejection Slip?’
Back to the stage. The ultimate in performance from Marina Abramovitch, (3.37 mins), with music. I’m giving you the music version because it tells you the backstory. I adore this woman. Makes me cry every time. And the lyrics are lovely.
Okay, we need to come down from that intensity, so a little bit of reading, in the quiet on your own. Think of this as a walk away from the hubbub. I’m taking a bag of chopped up bread with me. ‘From troubles of the world I turn to ducks’ by F.W. Harvey – such a lovely face, he had. ‘Yes, ducks are valiant things’. (2 mins?) And while we’re out by the pond, you might like to unscroll your copy of Trees by Joyce Kilmer. You can read it in half a minute or so, but you’ll want to read it twice of course.
Back to the theatre. The other thing about the web is that poets can be in two places at once. So not just in Aldeburgh but here online is Kei Miller with Unsung (1.38 mins). Uplifting, right?
So the ultimate uplift, from Maya Angelou, And still I rise. (2.52 mins)
Not just English: This festival is not just limited to one language. It can do more. I was enchanted by this bit of Baudelaire, read slowly enough for me to get it. (2.07 mins)
And a little Tom Duddy, who recorded very little during his lifetime, but this magical poem can be heard in his own voice: ‘The Touch’. (2.21.)
More performance: so many politicians talking at us. Hannah Silva says it all, without exactly saying it. (3.21)
Discussion, with music. Aldeburgh was on my mind and winter, and this brought me to a recording of Peter pears and Benjamin Britten peforming from and talking about Die Winterreise. You could listen to all of it, or just a bit. (12.44). A marvellous piece of film.
The Final Billing: headliners Edna St Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, Stevie Smith and W H Auden.
- ‘Love is not all’, Edna St Vincent Millay (1.29 mins)
- ‘One Perfect Rose’, Dorothy Parker (c 1 min)
- Stevie Smith, my hero, with Tenuous and Precarious (1 min)
- And that bit of film produced by the post office and making this bit of Auden famous for all time: ‘Night Mail’. (3.53) Practically an elegy really, now that nobody writes letters any more. (Well, I do. Sometimes.)