All posts filed under: Readings

Spam poetry at the Printworks, Hastings

Slam Dunk at the Printworks in Hastings

Last night I took the train (yes! there and back! and only slight delays!) to Hastings to Slam Dunk, a regular poetry night at the Printworks, where Hastings Stanza rep Antony Mair was doing a set. Although it’s not far away, Hastings is still a bit of an unknown quantity for me, but it has an unmistakeably youthful and creative vibe that’s irresistible. There’s an edge to it too – and my first challenge was to find the way in, which turned out to be down a dark alley and without any external signs…a cross between a speakeasy and some sort of squatters’ den – ha! (The experience reminded me of a ‘foreigners only’ bar in Rome about 30 years ago where you had to know the correct (unmarked) door to knock on, and someone slid open the hatch to check you were a) not Italian and b) not male. Men were allowed but only in the company of a woman, and in the proportion one-man-one-woman. I don’t think Rome was ready for any other relationship …

living room window before

Poetry vs DIY, plus a few upcoming deadlines

It’s easy to lose the rhythm of blogging – I’ve been lacking the motivation lately, partly out of a feeling of ‘what is there really to say that makes a difference?’ And yet, there are always interesting things to say. I’ve recently been admiring Josephine Corcoran’s commitment to blogging every day during November – sometimes in-depth pieces and other times brief updates or musings. It’s all interesting. Similarly, one of my all-time favourite blogs is Jean Tubridy’s Social Bridge – impossible to classify in terms of its content, and always compelling. So what’s on my mind at the moment? Firstly, an increasing need to stay away from Facebook, TV news, the media generally. Is that an age thing – when nothing under the sun really seems new, or if it is, it often seems inconsequential? Perhaps also a ‘winter’s-coming-and-the-days-are-getting-shorter thing? Secondly, we’re approaching our first winter in our new home and the to-do list is as long as ever. It’s such an absorbing project that sometimes I’d just rather strip down a window sill or paint a …

Noir by Charlotte Gann

Charlotte Gann book launch

It’s always a joy to hear poet friend Charlotte giving a reading. There’s a weight to her voice, a rootedness … it’s hard to explain what I mean. There’s no act, no funny stuff. She presents her poems simply, and they just seem to appear in the room – completely in the proper place – like great trees that have been growing for hundreds of years. Last night was the first launch of Noir, Charlotte’s first full-length collection, published by HappenStance, and it was in her home town of Lewes. It was my home too, for fourteen years (just passing through!), and it’s still slightly weird to go back to, especially on (almost) the eve of Bonfire, its biggest day of the year. I walked down the High Street and Sarah Barnsley and I almost didn’t recognise each other in the dark as we waited to cross the road. Spookily appropriate for the book’s title. But everything about the event was the opposite of noir – a wonderful gathering of friends, family and supporters, a happy audience. I loved …

Reading of poem ‘Long Haul’

This is from a reading I did in Eastbourne earlier this year and the poem appeared in The Interpreter’s House in June. Apologies for the sound quality and there are a couple of visual glitches – I never have much luck with video! Long Haul from Robin Houghton on Vimeo.

Robin & Jess at South Downs Poetry Festival

At the South Downs Poetry Festival

When Tim Dawes came to Lewes just a few months ago to talk about his plans for a South Downs Poetry Festival, I admit I was sceptical about whether it could be done in such a short timeframe. But hats off to him, the event happened and from what I can tell, it was a super success. After a poetry bike ride taking in the length of the South Downs, plus numerous readings and workshops throughout the area, things culminated in a day-long event in Petersfield on Saturday, which I was very pleased to be a part of. I was there with fellow Telltale Poet Jess Mookherjee, flying the Telltale flag, socialising with fellow publishers/poets and taking in readings and workshops where possible. Being a new festival, it was on a small scale – which made it actually all the more fun. With smallness comes intimacy – everyone was relaxed, poets and organisers accessible, and there was time and space to really talk to people. And we brought cookies – free edibles are always a …

Jane Commane & Abegail Morley launch The Skin Diary

Launch of ‘The Skin Diary’ by Abegail Morley

What a privilege it is to be asked to read at a friend’s book launch. Abegail Morley has been something of a mentor to me, always generous in her support. She is a genuinely unselfish in her helping of other poets, and always interested in collaborations or new ideas. She’s also a prolific writer – in the time I’ve known her (only about three years I think) she’s had two collections and a pamphlet published, all with different presses. It makes me seriously question my work ethic and output. But in a positive way! In Tunbridge Wells on Wednesday evening a packed audience turned out in the pouring rain for the launch of The Skin Diary, Abegail’s new collection with Nine Arches Press, and her fourth overall. I’ve barely had a chance to start reading it but I’ve a strong suspicion it’s going to be powerful stuff, not just because that’s the kind of poetry she writes, but also evidenced by her reading. (I’d also had a sneak preview already at our Telltale Press & Friends readings in April.) My fellow readers …

Eastbourne beach from south cliff

Some poetry readings etc in next two weeks…

Just a quick shout out for some poetry readings & events coming up in the next couple of weeks … we’re always being told how people turn to poetry in times of trouble, so perhaps we need to start promoting poetry readings as an antidote to brexit woes. I already foresee a tranche of poems on brexit-related themes starting to appear in magazines from the autumn… But let’s not wish the summer away. I’m trying to see the sunshine through those dark trees. Anyway, starting with this evening, 29th June – I’m pleased and proud to have been invited by Abegail Morley to be a guest reader at the launch of her Nine Arches collection, The Skin Diary, alongside Jeremy Page and Mara Bergman. It’s taking place at The Pitcher & Piano in Tunbridge Wells at 7pm – free entry! Tomorrow evening 30th June I’m in Eastbourne talking to the New Eastbourne Writers about best ways to use Twitter, and hopefully launching the follow up to my ‘How to Use Twitter’ ebook. (I know, not a reading …

Troubadour Coffee House Poetry 6-6-16

‘The future of poetry’ – Coffee House Poetry at the Troubadour

So, to the Troubadour last night for poetry, discussions about poetry and the big bad world of digital – a ‘colloquy’ of five poets from diverse backgrounds. In the first half we had readings from Carrie Etter, Hannah Lowe, Gregory Leadbetter and Richard Price, and in the second they formed a round table chaired by C J Dallat. I’ve not been to a Troubadour colloquy before – it wasn’t as packed as the themed nights can be, but then again it was up against several other events including the launch across town of Luke Kennard’s Cain (Penned in the Margins). The format was a good balance – very different poets, none of whom I’d heard read before (except Hannah Lowe, but I’m not sure if I’d seen her live or on video). I particularly enjoyed Carrie’s short but electrically charged set. When I said hello to her in the interval it turned out she reads this blog (thanks, Carrie!) …it was also a pleasure to meet Richard Price and to thank him for recently selecting my …

Telltale infiltrates Sainsburys

A (tell) Tale of Two Collectives

I’m fortunate to be a part of two writers’ collectives, one is of course Telltale Press and the other The Needlewriters. Needlewriters is based in Lewes and consists of about 6 or 7 of us (not entirely sure how many at the moment!) and we’re all writers of prose, poetry or both. We host quarterly events at the Needlemakers cafe (geddit?) at which there are generally three readers – two prose and one poetry, or the other way around. In the interval we sell books and have a raffle, the cafe is open and it’s a well-supported evening. We’ve also produced an anthology featuring work by many of the writers who have read at the event over the years. (The online version can be read for free here.) Last Thursday we had our Spring reading which for the first time was a Poetry Special, with four readers: Lucy Cotterill, Jemma Borg, Janet Sutherland and Vanessa Gebbie. I was struck by the range of subject matter and styles we witnessed. And each of the poets read so …

Lynne Hjelmgaard book launch

[…] Outside each propelling constellation but inside that feeling of boat. It demands and bruises, cuts pride, hardens stomachs. […] (‘That Feeling of Boat’) It was such a pleasure to be at the launch of Lynne Hjelmgaard’s new collection A Boat Called Annalise last night. Hosted by publisher Seren Books, it was a warm occasion, well attended and with an open bar (slightly dangerous when there are poets around, but Lynne assured me there was a cap!) The upstairs room at the Yorkshire Grey in Camberwell was a good venue – there seem to be a number of pubs in that area where poetry events happen, usually while a completely different set of patrons drink downstairs, unaware of the poetry doo-dads happening above. I’ve known Lynne for a few years now, and apart from being a truly generous and gentle soul, she has a rare and quiet wisdom from which I’ve drawn great support.  I admire her work, her attitude and her honesty and I’m fortunate to count her as a friend. Clearly many people feel the same way …