Friday, February 23, 2007

The universities and author readings

Talking of author readings, as I indicated on my other blog last week, the place for readings in Manchester now seems to be the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. At last night's reading, however, I sat next to a friend who told me that the other university too holds readings open to the public. A problem however seems to be that these readings are not well advertised to the public, and you have to be in the know - he said that he had learned too late of a reading by John Banville at the other place, and last week Adrian Slatcher commented on this blog that he hadn't known about a reading I'd been to at MMU.

Last night at MMU it was Matthew Hollis. Although once upon a time besotted with Wordsworth, I am not nowadays a fan of rural poetry, but last night Matthew Hollis just about converted me back again. Though, in spite of their subject matter, there's a spareness and grittiness about his poems which make them seem not exactly rural in fact, and most definitely not backward-looking but universal and indeed contemporary. Apart from that they have a wonderful lyricism and Matthew was a great reader, and I was drawn right in. In the Q&A, Andrew Biswell, who runs the Writing School, commented that the poems were very much against the current grain in that they weren't confessional, personal or anecdotal. Matthew's brow crinkled and he thought a minute and then said somewhat tentatively that he had a bit of a problem with the idea of classifying poems as 'confessional', in that any poem is an artefact and thus something more than a mere 'confession', transcending any experience which triggered it.

Altogether he was self-effacing and always thoughtful, and open about not always knowing the answer (in spite of his status as a poetry editor at Faber): a stance which doesn't do authors much good in the wider publicity-geared world of publishing, but which certainly endeared him to this audience.

Over to Kro2 bar again afterwards and the film company were there again along with the writer who told me that he's written a special monologue for my character!

In the next weeks there will be several authors reading at MMU, including Livi Michael, Carol Rumens, Jeffrey Wainwright, Linda Chase and Jackie Roy.

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