Monday, 16 July 2012

The Middle Class Tourist: Poetry and festivals.

Firstly, I really do have to apologise for this horrendously late post. I have just returned from Latitude festival though, so I'm sure you'll forgive me.
What is Latitude, I hear you whisper. Members of the group (that I have told until I am blue in the face) will know that it is a music festival that I am completely in love with. It is the first date that goes in each brand new diary. Next year, I am already planning to be away in July. But, this music festival, what does it have to do with poetry? Well, that is just the thing you see- as well as the 4 main music stages (Bon Iver, Elbow, Paul Weller headlined), there are also coming on a dozen other stages knocking about the place.

A dedicated poetry stage (which the festival organiser insists is prominently positioned) over the weekend saw some fifty hours of live poetry- some clearly marked out as performance poets, some quite clearly what you would call page poets. There were poets in abundance though. Simon Armitage stepped in to cover an unwell Don Paterson (shame, but excellent) which, you could only say further bolstered the incredible line up. I got five minutes chatting with Tony Harrison, plugged our group to Benjamin Zephaniah (an honour, by the way- the coolest vegan I know), met hotly tipped and brilliant Patience Agbabi and, whilst not swooning for an autographed book, managed to discover probably a dozen poets that I feel do exactly what I want to be doing. Check out Martin Figura, Helen Mort, Catherine Smith, Clare Pollard, Rhian Edwards and you all have to search out Dean Atta, I instruct you.

It really was an incredible festival. If you are a poetry lover (and you have stumbled across the blog), get yourself there. The music is outstandingly well picked. There is always something to do (including dedicated small person area), more food options than a country fair, and if it isn't a poem you seek, maybe a Q&A with a writer, a film maker or a small screen star could be your thing. A theatre in the woods... I just want to go back already.

Anyway, this is turning into their advert but I really do recommend it. I see the fairly top end £175 ticket price as ten decent shows at £15 a pop and make sure I eat enough freebies to cover the remaining costs. I am determined next year to see something in the comedy arena. I missed Tim Minchin by accident this year and things like this are punishable by death in some circles. I did though, catch John Cooper Clarke who delivered a rousing set to a packed poetry crowd- albeit, and I can't believe I am saying this, a little joke heavy.

There is one thing I will take from this year over everything. You just have to go and do things if you want to get out there. Poets trying new voices out, bands trying new songs out, it is all the same really. As my old man would say: if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.  And on that note: a bit of hero worship. I have decided just to do some freewriting- I needed just to shake something off the pen so I can give all of my new ideas the time and attention I think they deserve...

Thanks for reading,


Poet eats and poet thinks
Poet smokes and poet drinks
Poet laughs and poet cries
Poet cannot close his eyes

Poet saw the future now
Poet tried to tell them how
Poet tried to change the world
Poet found himself disturbed

Poet came and poet went
Poet tried and poet spent
Poet fell from centre stage
Poet could not hide his rage

Poet did what poet could
Underground, poet did good
Poet moved and unified
Poet did not tell them lies

Poet brought the houses down
Poet crept into the towns
Poet spoke only of people
wPoet cared for no tired steeple

Poet came to recognise
Poet saw all those despised
Poet gave up eating dead
Poet chose to live instead

Poet tried to be example
Poet soon fell from the mantle
Poet got back up to speak
Poet knew now, what is weak

Poet read and poet grew
Poet somehow kind of knew
Poet should finish this poem
Poet is not sure, not knowing

Poet not ready to end
Poet not here to pretend
Poet make some silly rhyme
Poet fight this, all the time

Poet does what he should not
Poet breaks the rules a lot
But poet knows what is good and wrong
Call that the message and pass that on. 



Ashley R Lister said...

You always make Latitude sound like an unmissable experience. And each year I keep missing it.

One day I'll get there.


Sheilagh Dyson said...

Shaun - I really enjoyed reading your account of Latitude - it sounds like Glastonbury before it lost its way and became too big and commercialised.And I enjoyed even more your poem. It says it all about a poet striving to make sense of life and communicating it to others.

Loved it!