Monday 31 October 2016

Poetry in Aldeburgh, poetry in the sea

“Here is the gift of a poetry festival for each of you”.  That’s how the Poetry in Aldeburgh website introduces itself.  A heroic group of volunteers is delivering a festival this first November weekend, just by getting on and doing it.  A festival in Aldeburgh not Snape, at the old familiar venues.  Readers at the Jubilee Hall include Moniza Alvi, Mona Arshi, Kayo Chingonyi, Maura Dooley, Ian Duhig, Matthew Hollis, Ruth Padel and Tom Paulin.  

There’s a distinctive local feel.  Two magazines based in East Anglia are launching new issues in the Peter Pears Gallery.  One is The Rialto, 4-5pm on Saturday 5 November; I’ll be introducing Hannah Lowe and others.  The other is newcomer The Fenland Reed.  Various groups, workshops etc, local and otherwise, are having events, exhibitions etc.

The Rialto’s launch has sold out.  Other events are selling well / out, see here for tickets.  People are looking forward to this.  There’s still time for a last-minute decision to go…

Poetry in the sea…  Every year at the Aldeburgh Festival, except when there were gales, poets have been in the sea; enough of them to form a minority tradition.  So this year I’m hoping we can have poetry in the sea as well as poets – swimming poets, you are invited to come and take part in a pop-up poetry reading in the sea:

The idea is that each reader should swim/float while reading; the rest of us can stand on shore and listen.  Speaking by heart would be a more accurate description than reading.  The poem may be one of yours or anyone’s, and it had probably best be short. 

This will be an experiment: I don’t even know if it’ll be possible to hear people speak their poems above the sound of the waves.  The water will be cold, but not freezing winter cold – it’s currently around 14.5 degrees. Wind and waves are currently looking OK for the Saturday, a bit wild on the Sunday.  But that forecast may change.  If the conditions aren’t suitable we’ll have to postpone until next year. 

When I get to Aldeburgh on Friday afternoon I’ll have a look and a trial swim and check the forecast.  Then I’ll advertise a time on Facebook and Twitter and ask others to spread the news too.

So, swimming poets: come along, bring a poem in your head and a towel, and wear your swimming costume under warm clothes. 

Interested non-swimmers, do please come along and support us! 

Some news about the Poetry Trust (who ran the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival for decades and had to go into hibernation after last year’s): they have now got an Arts Council transtion grant.  Here’s the chair, Robert Seatter, quoted in writeoutloud

What we decided to do in 2016 was to take a year out to review how the Poetry Trust operates, in order to come back more robust and financially viable for the future. At the moment, we’re working with Arts Council England, who have just awarded us a transition grant, to work out a detailed plan, enabling us to come back in 2017 with a new festival.

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