So we are keeping our base in "sunny Southend" and moving on...
This episode has stunted our creativity and it is going to take a while to get back into the swing of things. So as we do not have any book news for you or any cultural blog to share on Miss Gish's website, we have a few links, etc. for you instead.
Firstly, you will find superb pictures of our London: Winter Tales event on photographer Steve Kenny's website HERE.
You can also download the interview booklet featuring all the artists who appeared at the event HERE.
Hi-Reciprocity's Simon Satori has written a delightful review of the evening, and it is with immense pleasure that we are sharing it with you below.
"This review is purely for my own lousy memory and is not meant as a serious critique of the night or its individual acts; just a few observations and opinions. I may even have the running order slightly wrong but in summary, I loved it! It ran shockingly smoothly for a nine act show and all the work behind the scenes seemed organized, friendly and professional.
Steev Burgess is a real poet: a grey haired Londoner and an artistic product of psychogeography. I’d love to find a copy of a poem he did about St.Giles but if you look around the internet you can at least find his poem about ‘Gaslight and Gin’ which similarly highlights his love of London and old worlds and old words.
Joanna Vale, was the most ‘nature poet’ of the night, and Winter, the overarching theme of the event, was her natural environment. She’d arranged for a soundtrack of winter-sounds and a screen of wintry images to give her words a real three-dimensional feel as she read her work about Jack Frost and ravens and gods and even in the warm and stuffy basement we huddled together in the cold!
Danni Antagonist is almost a rapper as she spits out her words with a syncopated beat and animates her tales by wrapping her hands around the consonants as she talks. She’s the most personal of the poets. Writing emotionally about universal thoughts and feelings and returning onstage during Black Violation’s performance for a wonderful duet that reminded me of Joolz Denby’s old poetry records where she borrowed much of New Model Army for her backing band.
Bradley James was late and so came to the stage in a fluster. His appearance as a huge force of nature blowing through the event was probably made even more obvious by the juxtaposition of himself with the diminutive Danni Antagonist. Brad has a social conscience and an anger at the injustices around him. It was a relief however to find that this hasn’t left him without a sense of humour and the gleefully horrendous pun that forms the heart of his poem about the Serengeti Plains and the plight of the welfare state (‘Kill a Man’s Giro’) was inspired!
Rosie Garland is a star. Although we talked of stagefright before either of us did our ‘turn’ her performance seemed effortless. She just talked and talked and interspaced her tales of being the ‘odd one out’ with poems and chunks of her novels about circuses and shape-shifters: freaks and performers! For someone who often defines herself by her differences to others she certainly has a natural writer’s gift of empathy for everyone. Oh, and the line ‘Up to where the dark is giddy’ is sooooo good! It’s not just the context, I just think those are a beautiful group of words to stick together!
Carya Gish was at the centre of this whole affair. Not only did she put this event on with Alan Pride (with artistic help from Matt) but she also read out a sort of manifesto of her artistic aims (from a Guardian article written by Robert MacFarlane) where she praised the artists that have a sense of location and then read a section of her current novel. Like Rosie she’s defiantly writing her own work with little or no compromise to genre-restrictions, trends or marketing beyond telling the story that she wants to read. It’s the old punk ethic that infects us all. Funny hair, dubious personal-hygiene and safety pins may be the historic artefacts of punk but the spirit that underlies this and still lives on, is that of a real positive ‘Do It Yourself’ movement: if you want to make music, do it, don’t just wait for Simon Cowell to discover you, if you want to write a book, write it, don’t just talk about writing it. Publish it yourself, get it out there. Create a spoken-word event. Build a new bohemia. Don’t procrastinate or wait to be plucked from obscurity. Fame, riches, happiness and artistic freedom are all distant goals that few ever reach but you’ll get there a lot quicker if you make those first steps yourself.
Hi-Reciprocity are an odd one to describe because it’s me and I’m therefore a tad susceptible to bias! I think it was pretty good. I got some nice comments from some nice people! Through luck rather than judgement perhaps, I was a clever link between the poets and the musicians, as I do a little of both and mix serious subjects with comedy and try to cram in everything I’m interested in, into a little 30 minute set. I suspect I invoked Winter almost as much as Jo Vale. I’m delighted that the new work went down well (a slightly rewritten ‘Wandlebury’ and a song I love that is called ‘Gardeners’ Questionable Time’ until I find a better name). I love the fact that Liza could join me on stage and that a few more of my friends and fellow artists could see the sort of nonsense I’m currently doing! With a few curses at forgotten lines, I’m actually rather content with my performance and can’t wait to tell you what Hi-Reciprocity is up to next!
You The Living seemed a strange duo for a spoken-word night as the words are low in the mix and a fuzzy-fizzy-overdriven guitar dominates like a school bully. Amongst all the natural charismatic talkers (poets and writers) there was little friendly communication with the audience or even between band members and yet despite this… or because of this… the sounds were exquisite: falling somewhere between the soundtrack for the film ‘Last Lovers Left Alive’ and old Cranes albums, it was a brilliant and brutal noise. It was late night music for the emotionally scarred.
Then Black Volition took the stage. Dogged by sound problems (the only ones of the night!) that they joked their way through, this was like going to a seedy bar in Hamburg where some women of dubious character are sniffing powders in the corner and a man is staring at you intently whilst playing with a flick-knife and there on the stage is Depeche Mode playing a secret gig of dirty jazz numbers. It reminded me of a band called Liquid Lounge Quartet. It reminded me of culture in a dark place. It made me happy!