Monday, 10 November 2014

26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival


'Aldeburgh is the UK’s pre-eminent annual celebration 
of national and international contemporary poetry'

A sweep of unpromising grey cloud dissipated around noon and the sky brightened over Snape and Aldeburgh. The 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival took off in Suffolk sunshine to the delight of those who had come from far and wide to take part, to be informed or entertained and simply to imbibe poetry of all sorts and descriptions.

I made my way to the front at Aldeburgh to sniff the sea and to take my festival photograph near the iconic Scallop on the beach. It was soon time to head off to The Red House for a workshop led by Karen McCarthy Woolf. What an experience to write in such a distinguished and musical venue! Karen kept us on our toes, as urban, coastal and rural horizons began to dance before our eyes. We tried to capture something special in our writing as we cast our nets widely. Most of us came away with pages of material and poems in draft. Thank you, Karen, for such a stimulating, eye-opening and wide-ranging session.

Snape Maltings

The Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is largely based around the complex of Snape Maltings, with its boardwalk at the edge of the reeds and its wide skies that provide wonderful starling murmurations on autumn evenings. I attended the Open Workshop on Saturday in the Oyster Bar, led by Michael Laskey, founder of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and Jeni Smith, and once again found every poetic muscle in my body (or brain?) being contorted in new and occasionally uncomfortable ways!

Sadly the event with Jen Hadfield was cancelled due to bad weather up north, but it was great to catch up with a good number of friends and to meet new ones. By the time I headed for home my book bag was bulging with a mix of shiny and secondhand volumes and pamphlets by Edward Thomas, Tony Harrison, Karen McCarthy Woolf*, Chrissie Williams, Jen Hadfield and Kevin Crossley-Holland ...

Me ... with feather bag ...
and copies of An Aviary of Small Birds (Carcanet, 2014) by Karen McCarthy Woolf
Photo credit: © Karen McCarthy Woolf (used with permission)


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