I’ve recently had the pleasure of hearing and reading poems by James Giddings and I asked him to contribute some poems to showcase here. I don’t want to label James’ work as it is varied and obviously evolving, but many of his poems contain dry self-effacing humour and gentle melancholy. This element of wistful tragi-comedy is combined with high narrative energy and neatness and economy of style. I hope James won’t mind me saying that these two aspects make his work sometimes seem like a cross between Simon Armitage and John Hegley, although his own voice is very distinctive.
James is twenty three years old and is currently studying for his MA at Sheffield Hallam University, funded by the Arts Humanities and Research Council. His poems have appeared in magazines including Black & Blue, Antiphon and The Cadaverine. He once won a silver medal for swimming at Cubs.
Simon Armitage (2017) The Unaccompanied. London: Faber and Faber
Simon Armitage (2017) Mansions in the Sky. Branwell Brontë Exhibit.Bronte Parsonage Museum. Haworth, West Yorkshire.
They say you should never meet your heroes but upon hearing the The Brontë Parsonage Museum was hosting Simon Armitage it was hard to resist. After greedily releasing two collections of poetry this week, his exhibit on Branwell Bronte, the ‘fail son’, opium-addicted, Bronte brother was also opened. His reading dealt with the complexity, speed and inequality of modern life, set against the background of West Yorkshire’s rolling Pennine hills. The eccentricity and telluric quality of Armitage’s writing was juxtaposed with the dizzying experience of the modern metropolis. You came away with a sense that this was a poet who, after translating and playwriting for many years, had come back to his stomping ground with a political point to prove.
So it seems the secret of navigating a cold Pennine February is simple: publish your first poetry pamphlet and launch a solo exhibition of new paintings inspired by the poetry. No problem…
Flowers by the Road became a reality after the collection won Templar Poetry’s Portfolio Prize in October 2016. The publisher planned an official launch party at Keats House in London on the 28 February 2017 so all I had to do was write, edit and re-write in time for a fairly generous deadline. That was the initial plan. It all changed, however, when Huddersfield Literature Festival offered me the opportunity to launch the pamphlet in my home village of Marsden as part of their support of local libraries. The only slight problem being is that these events coincide with National Libraries day at the beginning of February. Oops. Fortunately Templar agreed to bring the release date forward and before I knew it I was stood in a library full of people waiting for British Sea Power’s No Man is an Archipelago to finish on the pre-launch playlist so that introductions to begin.
Back in November 2016 the volunteer group, Friends of Marsden Library who had agreed to host the event at Marsden had secured the services of Simon Armitage for a night of poetry and library fund raising. It was during this event that I met some of the people who would be supporting my own event and afterwards, following a few celebratory drinks, where I agreed with local gallery owners, Sharon and Kevin, that it might also be a good idea to commit to a solo exhibition to coincide with the launch. Unsurprisingly I woke the next day with a slight hang-over.
The idea behind the exhibition was very simple: the paintings would have some connection with the poems in the collection. From this I began to plan a series of images inspired by single lines from various poems; the result being that the line of text serves as an introduction to the narrative of the painting rather than the painting simply being an illustration of the poem. Eight paintings were finished in this style and finally exhibited alongside a number of other works.
The exhibition continues throughout March with pictures available to takeaway on the day.
We eventually made it to London, enjoying the sights and making the most of our trip with visits to the Theatre and the Hockney retrospective at the Tate. Whilst the launch did clash with the premier of Kong at Leicester Square it didn’t seem to impact on audience numbers, so much so that after I finished my reading a late comer had pinched my seat! The wonderful Ellen Cranitch followed my reading with a spell-binding performance of poems from her latest Templar collection, The Immortalist.
So that was February. Now with feet firmly back on the ground and the sun making a re-appearance it’s been a time to get back out in the garden and do some digging.
Once again, Poetry&Words are opening our floodgates to a delicious deluge of poets from far and wide. Every year we take applications to perform on Glastonbury Festival’s poetry stage, and every year we are awestruck by the hundreds of amazing wordsmiths out there. Last year we hosted an abundance of talent from international stars Buddy Wakefield and Tanya Evanson, to home grown greats John Hegley and Murray Lachlan Young. If you’d like to walk in their footsteps, then this is your chance! We’re looking for applications from experienced writers and performers, with something quite excellent to offer the audience of the world’s biggest greenfield arts festival.
If you want to apply, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with a short bio and 1-3 video and/or audio files of you performing your work, preferably to a live audience. We’d prefer web links, but attachments (of manageable size!) will also be accepted. We will…
Interlitq: You refer in some of your poems to your childhood in India. Do you feel you need to travel to exotic places to gain a sense of wonderment?
I do feel a sense of wonderment – largely second hand – through my father’s experience of remote regions like the Amazon Rainforest and the evergreen jungles of South India. What could be more wonderful than seeing a cloud of lime blues, several thousand strong, rising from the banks of a stream in the Nagalapuram Hills? But I was lucky enough to develop a real passion for nature while walking with my father as a child in the English countryside. From early on, the tiny worlds that took hold on a rotten tree stump – the forests of moss, the clumps of wood sorrel – were as much a…
The first launch event of my debut poetry pamphlet, Flowers by the Road took place on Wednesday 8 February to a full house at Marsden library as part of Huddersfield Literature Festival’s celebration of local libraries. The event coincided with library events taking place across the country to celebrate National Libraries Day which launched on the 04 February. It was wonderful, if a little nerve-racking, to see so many friends, family and supporters of poetry and libraries turn out on what was a bitterly cold mid-February night. Heartfelt thanks to all who came and made the event such a great success.
Friends of Marsden Library have created a picture blog about the event which you can see by clicking this link
The next launch event is at Keats house in London where I will be reading alongside the wonderful Ellen Cranitch. The event is free but booking is required. Find out about the event here
Flowers by the Road can be ordered direct from Templar Poetry – please follow this link
Please get in touch via the contact page if you would like me to read at an event or to request a review copy. Thank you.
I’m delighted to announce that my poetry collection titled, Flowers by the Road, has been chosen as the winning entry in the latest Templar Poetry Portfolio Awards. The collection will be published by Templar Poetry as a pamphlet in early 2017 and launched with a special reading at Keats House, London.
Please keep a look out for more news and release dates.
In other news the painting, Neighbour (pictured below) completes the series of paintings under the heading, Two Houses by the Road and all works are now available at the Millyard Gallery, Uppermill, Saddleworth.
Greengates is the fourth in a series of recent paintings exploring a more fluid approach utilising both oil and acrylic. The starting point for Greengates was an unloved oil landscape partially sanded back which provided an almost abstract texture to work on. Atmosphere and composition was then created quickly utilising acrylic and ink and finally enhanced by oil. The painting was finished with satin varnish.
The painting is framed and available for purchase at Enjoy Art Gallery based in Marsden. Other works in the series include: Pennine Sunset, Neighbour and Holiday Home all of which are currently available through my Artfinder shop.
And finally, inspiration this month comes from The Lumineers who recently played an amazing sold out show at the very excellent Albert Hall in Manchester (not to be confused with the Royal version).