States of Independence 2012

 States of Independence 2012 - Saturday 17 March

De Montfort University hosted this annual independent small press day event. Book stalls, readings, pamphlet launches, panel discussions, showcases: much to tempt the ear, eye and purse, to say nothing of catching up with friends and meeting new faces on the writing scene.

With several showcases running concurrently over four sessions throughout the day, I thankfully found less clashes of preference than last year.

11.00 AM: Longbarrow Press reading

Chris Jones kicked off with several poems from Miniatures, inspired by his experiences of new fatherhood in 2005/6, (or on ‘not remembering’, he remarked).  From The Footing, an anthology of poems about walking, The Doom concerns itself with the destruction of wall art in churches during the Reformation. I enjoyed the sibilance of ‘the swim of souls/like silver in the net.’

Mark Goodwin‘s landscape poetry maps the page with precision, innovative line breaks evident in his reading even without seeing them on the page.  St Juliot is a kilometre-by-kilometre itinerary of a walk with a loved one.  In contrast to Chris Jones, my ear focused on ‘inspire,’ ‘alive,’  ‘eye,’  ‘I.’

12.00 noon: I allowed myself a long lunch break in order to browse, make planned and spontaneous purchases and strike up conversations with new as well as familiar faces.

1.00 PM: Nine Arches Press poetry reading

Deborah Tyler-Bennett and Maria Taylor both read poems which draw from memory and family history.  Ms T-B, resplendant in retro, read from Mytton…Dyer…Sweet Billy Gibson, a triptych of noted/notable lives including her great grandfather.  Maria Taylor (equally lovely in designer tights) whetted our appetites for her forthcoming collection, Melanchrini (meaning dark-haired/dark-featured), interweaving her Greek childhood, growing up in London and life in other places.  She also read some new film-inspired poems and my personal favourite, Larkin.  (To read it, click here).

2.00 PM: Happenstance readings

Peter Daniels opened the session, reading poems from Mr Luczinski Makes a MoveTim Love gave an interesting and frank account of his journey to pamphlet publication and read from Moving Parts as well as a poem in homage to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.  Although a fellow Soundswrite member, this was my first experience of Sally Festing’s poetry outside of the Soundswrite anthologies.  I enjoyed her title poem, Salaams, about the different ways of saying good day in Arabic.  I loved the pared back language in Sundry Pelts and Fire, allowing the sounds to resonate.  Robin Vaughan-Williams ended with poems from The Manager.

3.00 PM: Short Fuse showcase: Intimate Confessions

Stories, letters, diary extracts, autobiography, shopping lists, confessional poetry, recipes on a theme.  Short fiction by writers (or their alter egos) across the genres, beginning with a piece in English and French by one Violet Beauregard from Paris, Texas: a self-confessed schizophrenic.  I enjoyed Julie Hoggarth’s Liberating: twenty slides and narratives, each lasting twenty seconds, spanning twenty years.  I heard: containment, confinement, enclosure, protection, in a journey towards liberation.  I read a piece of flash fiction entitled The Door, Left Open, my only venture outside the realm of poetry to date (although comments afterwards bore testimony to the probable truth that it never strayed far from the poet’s voice).

All in all, a day well-spent: inspirational, informative.

My Jenga tower of to-reads now includes the latest Iota magazine, Geraldine Monk’s Lobe Scarps & Finials (Leafe Press), Chris Jones’ Miniatures (Longbarrow Press), Phil Brown’s Il Avilit and Tony Williams’ All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head (both Nine Arches Press).  The Easter holidays can’t come too soon!

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