Event Reviews

The T S Eliot Prize

As a novice in the world of poetry I attended the Shortlist Readings of the T S Eliot Prize with a sense of excited anticipation. The event was well organised and ran very smoothly, and I have to say that in the person of eight out of ten poets (rather like ‘eight out of ten cat owners’) my expectations were fully met and in several cases exceeded.

Nothing can really match an accomplished poet reading his/her own work. They were, without exception, consummate performers. The Festival Hall housed an audience of around two thousand who listened in silent awe to each poet deliver a sample of the best of their work this year.

ImageSimon Armitage gave a witty introduction to his reading, speculating on ‘what can I do to win this year?’—his last collection Seeing Stars was shortlisted in 2010. He read a section of his contemporary retelling of the four thousand line alliterative Morte Arthure (The Death of King Arthur). I enjoyed it much more that I expected to. His writing has certainly caught my attention, and I shall be looking back at  his previous works with more than a little interest. I have also been reliably informed that he is a speaker well worth listening to.

Paul Farley gave a very entertaining reading of several of his poems from The dark filmDark Film, waving airily in what he thought might be the direction of the Royal Box, glasses perched precariously on the tip of his nose. His last poem finished with the declaration: ‘Oh fuck! I’m the queen.’

havocsJacob Polley topped them all with his rendition of ‘Langly Lane’ from The Havocs. He was the only poet to receive spontaneous applause after reading his first poem. His book is now in my hands and I’m happy to say the rest of his work is of the same wonderfully high standard.

He should have won.

Liars’ League

I had my first experience of the Liars’ League on Tuesday 13th November at The Phoenix. The Liars’ League advertises its events as a place where: Writers Write; Actors Act; Audience Listens; Everyone Wins. The venue itself was a rather plush affair, with red velvet seating, a well appointed small stage, a bar and excellent food.

November’s theme was ‘Treason and Plot’ and featured five stories covering ‘lucky terrorists, taciturn cult-leaders, Nordic fishermen, Jewish princesses and an ankle-obsessed Jacobean in a ginger wig’. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed all five stories, there’s something about having your story read by a talented actor that really brings it to life.


Brighton Pier

This year’s British Fantasy Society convention took place in Brighton at the end of September—three days of workshops, panel discussions, author readings, interviews, and of course, fun. It wasn’t easy to settle on a navigable route through all the events, as so many would have been both valuable and interesting to attend. After filling the pocket programme with enthusiastic ticks, circles and asterisks against all the events I really wanted to attend, I finally whittled the choice down to what was feasible in the linear time frame available.

One definite area of focus for me this year was blogging: how, why and is it really worth it?

The convention offered two approaches: a Master Class on how and why to blog, and a panel discussion looking at the importance of blogs. The ‘Ask the Editor’ panel also touched on the benefits of engaging with social media.

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