Monday 1 November 2010

No news

I've got lots of other things going on just now and so have no more poetry/music events planned for the immediate future. For now my other blog (here) is where you might want to look. Or not.


Sunday 10 October 2010

Reporting back

This year we had not one but two events in Montrose for National Poetry Day (on the Thursday Raymond Vettese and I did a reading in the town library – it went well, thanks for asking...). This two event scenario meant that some people turned up at the Links on Friday night asking 'how long does the festival go on?' Heavens above - we'd only morphed into a festival without even knowing it? Amazing! See how these things can happen...

Anyway, the Friday night event is the one that concerns us here so let's have a quick look at how it all went.

First up were the three poets from Colin Will's Calder Wood Press. I had read all three of these poets on page and screen but had never heard any of them read their own work aloud so much anticipation in the area. Now how did they do..? We started with...

Juliet Wilson (known to many of us as Edinburgh's Crafty Green Poet) came fresh from a day's birdwatching... and would it be odd of me to say there's something of the bird about her too? Slight, mesmerising, taut, intense... I found Juliet quite fascinating to watch and as she read her poem about, say, geese at least a little part of me was wondering if she might just pop out some wings and fly off round the room at some point. Also she read with a seriousness that slightly surprised me (not sure why... maybe it's all the talk of rabbits and making bright, pretty, crafty things on her blog) and though serious is fine I did wonder if some of that was to do with being the ice-breaker, as it were, and taking a little while to relax into her flight. It's always a friendly audience at the Links though so by the time she got to her last poem ('Mushrooms'?) I'd say she was really enjoying herself. Getting nearer soaring maybe...

Number two from CWP was Morgan Downie (the man many of us first knew as Swiss).

Morgan looked slighter than I remembered him too (he must have been hard at it on the bike...) and like Juliet he'd gone for the all-in-black look (good job I'd decided against mine... we'd have looked like the staff at a funeral parlour!). Morgan was very much as I hoped he would be as a reader – confident, clever, kind of charming (without being charming, if you know what I mean). He transported us well and truly to the Western Isles (largely along with his collection 'stone and sea') and he read with that mixture of love and horror for a place that can work so well when it's done right. He said he grew up watching Dave Allen (me too, me too!) and given a whole night to himself I can quite see the storyteller in Morgan coming out to play with the poet, as it were. A high stool, a glass of something and it could easily get to 'tell us another one, Morgan, tell us another' (but next time read my favourite, eh - 'the stone bible' – it's here).

Finally in this section we heard from Anna Dickie

Anna blogs here but not very much any more – sensible woman). I've loved Anna's book 'Heart Notes' but really had no idea how she would be on stage, under the very hot Links lights, facing a fairly big crowd. And she was... really perfect. Her introductions were dry and spiky (in good ways), the poems flowed beautifully and her whole section was varied, captivating and compelling. I saw quite a few people leaving with copies of 'Heart Notes' clutched in their hands at the end of the night, put it that way.

After this trio of poets it was time for the musical part of the night – the choir Loadsaweeminsingin from Dundee.

I've seen the Weemin several times before and absolutely LOVE their energetic, uplifting performances (and Sarah, their choir leader, really sets the standard in this regard). For us at the Links on Friday night the Weemin were on great form (and I was pleased they made it – the roads were thick with fog right up the east coast). They sang their usual great range of material and featured, I'm thrilled to say, the song 'Before I drop' that consists of words by me and tune by blogger's own Dominic Rivron (he wrote the tune for it back here, remember?). If you get a chance to see this choir don't miss it – they really are a joy to hear (and watch – so expressive, so bright).

As ever in between acts I did a poem (and a bit of rambling) here and there.

My poems this time were an oldish Poetry Bus one, that 'Rank and file' one from last week (it's here – decided to go for it in the end) and a new one (for my Mum) about 'Strictly Come Dancing' and heaven (I'll maybe post that last one over on the other blog next week or so). As usual with me it's not one for the Bloodaxe anthologies I suppose... but really life's too short to be worrying about all that – let's tango, let's fall over now and again... let's live!

Finally, after the interval, it was time for Tim Turnbull to take centre stage.

Having heard so much about him from other poets I was really looking forward to seeing and hearing Tim perform... and there was no disappointment – none at all. In his distinctive smart attire (he's part very good boy, part naughtiest child in the school...) Tim set about really entertaining us for the rest of the evening – a high energy, focused approach that really kept the crowd with him (through long poems and short). Over the course of the night he sang, he joked, he scared us a bit, he made the full range of interesting faces and gestures... but most of all he read poem after poem after poem – each one as original and packed full of cracking language and prickling insight as the last. I don't think there was a boring moment in the whole set – nothing predictable, nothing bland, not a hint of 'if I just say this in a poetry voice you'll have to like it or you're stupid'. And the audience, my dears, why we loved him (oh, yes we did).

So that's it for another year. Thanks to all who helped on the night, to T Duncan & Co. for their sponsorship contribution and to my nearest and dearest for their patience and support in all matters poetrical. Big special thanks to our lovely friend Scott Henriksen for the photos too. I've no immediate plans for any more events (got lots of other stuff going on..) but who knows... in poetry anything can happen... can't it..?


Thursday 29 July 2010

October 2010 - sooner than you think

So...Brilliant Poetry event number three in Montrose is coming up in the autumn. We'll be back at the Links Hotel on Friday 8th October 2010 (another National Poetry Day – Plus One). And who will we be seeing and hearing this time, you cry?

Well, there will be this man - Tim Turnbull.

Tim started off in North Yorkshire but now lives in Scotland and he has many books of poetry with his name on the front/spine ('Caligula on Ice', 'Stranded in Sub-Atomica'...). Most importantly of all (with audiences in mind) he was easily one of the most recommended poets when I asked other people who they'd seen who was BRILLIANT live (on a post back here). His website is here or you can listen to a good podcast interview with him over here. From what I've read and heard so far I don't think there's another poet quite like him and that, of course, can only be good.

There will be music too (as ever) and this time it will be provided by the fantastic women's choir from Dundee who go by the name of Loadsaweeminsingin. I've heard the 'weemin sing several times, even introduced them back at the Apex Hotel event in Dundee in 2009, and they always warm the cockles and stir the soul. Sorry I've no photos or links for them but you'll just have to take my word for it that they're fab (though the marvellous Michael Marra is a big friend and fan of the choir and that might be enough to help persuade you too).

Our other poetry this October will be something slightly different – not just one poet but a three-part publisher's showcase, no less, and it will come in the form of a fine selection of poets from Colin Will's Dunbar-based Calder Wood Press. The three poets Colin will be bringing up north are all bloggers and folk I'm very fond of in different ways (even though I've only met one of them properly in the flesh) – Anna Dickie, Morgan Downie and Juliet Wilson. I have written a little about all their CWP books on my other blog (Anna's here, Morgan's here and Juliet's here) but you can find out more about them at their own blogs or at the Calder Wood Press site. Their books look like this (though bigger...obviously):

I'm pretty sure it will be another fantastic (and very different) night with an unpredictable (but no doubt incomparable!) array of talent on show. I'm excited... are you?

Tickets are now on sale from Hogg's, High St., Montrose or from the Links Hotel, Montrose or email me if you can't get to either of those places (usual email – Tickets are priced £4 in advance, £5 on the door (details on stockists soon) and as usual the event will start at 8pm (doors open at 7.30pm). Sponsorship once again from T Duncan & Co. (Montrose solicitors/estate agents).


Saturday 24 April 2010

The day after

So, our second event in did it go? I think I need numbered answers...brain's a bit tired. 1.Well, first off, I was glad to get there at all. My Mum had been horribly ill earlier in the week and at one point I arranged 'emergency poetry compere cover' because I thought I wouldn't make it on the night. Luckily by Friday Mum was well enough to leave with friends looking after her so I made it to the Links on time. Phew. 2.Last October the venue filled up really quickly (in fact it was pretty much full before the time the doors were supposed to be open to the public) but this time the audience rolled in more slowly (thus enducing mild panic in this organiser). No need to worry 8pm we had a good crowd...all ready and waiting for poems and tunes. 3.Andy Shanks was on first – singing, playing the guitar and telling a tale or two in between songs (folk singers are so good at that). Andy has a lovely warm voice and is a really polished and professional performer with a wide range of material. He was on great form – a very enjoyable set all round. Andy Shanks Helena Nelson 4.Next up was Helena Nelson - a poet I've read a fair bit but never heard or seen perform before. I was thrilled to finally discover for myself what a totally mesmerising performer she is and though I know this isn't the generally accepted way of talking about poets I think that on stage she has a magical star quality (and the poems are strong so she has great material too). The audience were completely what I want to know is why isn't she headlining at poetry festivals around the country (and beyond)? Maybe she doesn't want to...but still I'd like to see her name in more programmes. She's a real one-off...not like any other poet I've seen before really. Dazzling. 5.I read a poem here and there inspired by a Picasso painting, an old favourite ('Let me be your fridge magnet') and one newish one ('Set text fever' – it's back here). I particularly enjoyed reading this time... perhaps because it had been such a hard week in real life that it was lovely to throw myself into some poems instead... also because it was a lovely, warm, positive audience (I got lots of great comments about the whole event – about the variety, the quality, the atmosphere, the venue...). Me (Rachel Fox), in amongst the raffle tickets and the drinks Don Paterson 6.Finally the second half of the night was pretty much given over to Don Paterson for poems and music. Paterson had just found out about the death of a friend (the poet Peter Porter) and this did visibly (and audibly) affect his reading (I have heard him engage more with an audience than he did last night...and he was very quiet...not in the mood to put on a show really, I imagine). However poets are people not machines and I don't think we need expect singing and dancing at all times - it was still a performance with much to show and tell us, the eager audience. There was plenty of gloom, yes, and there were several poems off on a deep voyage of investigation but also there were aphorisms (when he felt himself getting too gloomy...) and there were some lovely observations and little stories too. Most of all I think there was some fantastic playing – he played two long beautiful guitar pieces (eyes closed, a few pints down) and they were both totally bewitching (and hell, I am a long, long way from a jazz fan). To be such a talented musician and such a successful writer...can't be bad, eh? Pretty amazing. And again - Don Paterson So all in all, another brilliant night. Thanks to all the performers, to my friends-and-family support team and to all those who came along too. Special thanks to our friend Scott Henriksen for all the photos in this post (I just threw our not-particularly-special camera at him because the local news photographer came and took some posed shots early doors but couldn't hang around for the night). I hope to see most of you back at the Links in October for another National Poetry Day (plus one) but for now I must go and lie down...well, maybe. p.s. Helena Nelson has also written about this event here. x

Thursday 18 February 2010

Tickets on sale

Tickets are now on sale for the event detailed below. They cost £4 in advance from:
Hogg's, High St., Montrose
Pucci's, Murray St, Montrose
Hillside Village Shop

Or if you can't get to any of those you can email me for postal purchase. Usual email -

PLEASE NOTE - in the 'Courier' newspaper my email address was printed incorrectly (04.03.10). There is a hyphen between crowd and pleasers. Cheers.


Saturday 30 January 2010

Next event in Montrose

It's time for me to announce the details of the next Brilliant Poetry event in Montrose.

Date – Friday 23rd April 2010
Venue – Links Hotel, Montrose, Angus (Scotland!)
Time – Doors 7.30pm, show at 8pm.
Ticket details at the end of this post.

Our poets will be....this man

Kind of looks into your soul, don't he? Yes, Dundee's Don Paterson is taking a trip up the road to come and read poems and even have a twang on his guitar. His new book 'Rain' is (suitably enough) brilliant and of course all his other ones haven't been that bad either (has he won every prize possible for poetry...or does it just feel that way? I suppose there's the Nobel still to go...). I heard Paterson in Dundee back in February 08 and he is, of course, one of StAnza's headliners this year too. Still, all the real action is up in Montrose you know...

Our second poet is...

Helena Nelson - publisher of HappenStance Press, writer of award-winning poetry (from most serious to most flippant...), woman of note, resident of many reasons to be excited about hearing Nelson at this event. I have met Helena a few times, bugged her about poetry a fair bit, seen her chair debates at StAnza...but never heard her read her own work. Really looking forward to hearing her.

Our musical guest (apart from Paterson) will be...

Andy Shanks – singer, musician, songwriter (songs covered by English folk's wonderful June Tabor, no less), Andy is a local man who doesn't play locally nearly often enough but here's a chance to hear what we're missing. His myspace page is here for anyone who wants a sneaky listen.

Host will be me (Rachel Fox) and there will be books for sale, a raffle (contain yourselves now...) and possibly a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday for both my Mum (86 on that day) and William Shakespeare (considerably older). I hope we get as good a crowd as back in October (and p.s. I am planning another event for National Poetry Day in October again this year...possibly even two events...).

Tickets will be printed in the next couple of weeks and will be available from a couple of outlets in Montrose (details soon). Anyone who cannot get over this way to buy a ticket can email me at to get tickets posted out. Tickets will be £4 in advance and £5 on the door.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Live poets society

Any poets you think are particularly brilliant live performers? Come and add them to the comments over at this post.
And thank-you.