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Live Poetry in Sheffield

With the shop’s back room packed and excellent readings from Helen Mort, Chris Jones and Frances Leviston, last week’s poetry event at the Oxfam bookshop on West Street, Sheffield was a modest success. It was a pleasant feeling to be promoting Sheffield poets while also making money for such a worthwhile cause – through a mixture of kind donations on the door and book sales, including Helen Mort’s new tall-lighthouse pamphlet, A Pint for the Ghost.

Her performance included a number of poems from this new collection - eerie and provocative pieces on the ghosts and pubs of Sheffield and Derbyshire, past and present - and a handful from her first, the shape of every box, including an atmospheric poem about Division Street, located only a stone’s throw from the venue. Unsurprisingly, copies of her new pamphlet were quickly snapped up after the reading.

Chris Jones also performed a wide selection of his published poetry to date, from affecting vignettes about his young son from his pamphlet Miniatures, to powerful poems on his time spent as writer-in-residence at a prison, as well as pieces on the themes of family, friends and home, from his first collection The Safe House.

The evening finished with a reading by Frances Leviston, who read a selection of thought-provoking and vivid poems mainly from her first collection, Public Dream, including the meditative ‘I Resolve to Live Chastely’ and ‘Scandinavia’, an unusual love poem entitled ‘Gliss’, and ‘The Fortune Teller’, an update to, and reworking of, Richard Wilbur’s ‘The Mind Reader’. We were also treated to a few new poems, including a short, suggestive lyric, ‘Two Owls’.

I also gave a shortish reading on the night, and since it seems to have become a bit of a feature on UK poetry blogs, here’s my ‘set list’:

1. Crux
2. Sunday
3. Filter
4. Home
5. The River Don
6. Familiar
7. Wednesday
8. Gesleham-on-Stour
9. Itch
10. Hex

Given the success of the night, I hope to help arrange something similar again with Oxfam – though perhaps in a bigger venue than the shop, as that back room can get quite stuffy at times. If I do, it’ll be posted up here closer to the time of course. For now, thanks again to everyone who read, and also to all who attended – a fun night.

Comments

BarbaraS said…
Good to know that it went well, Ben. Helen Mort's work sounds interesting, I think I heard her read in London at the thing you couldn't get to - she's good!

Frances' work also sounds v. interesting too. Must follow up with purchases :)
Ben Wilkinson said…
Yeah, Helen's stuff is great, Barbara - I'd definitely recommend getting a copy of A Pint for the Ghost. Frances's Public Dream too - crisp and lucid and cerebral; really rewarding stuff.

Hope you enjoyed The Sparks on your writing break.

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About the Author

Welcome to the website of the English poet and critic, Ben Wilkinson.
Ben was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He received his first degree from the University of Sheffield, and holds an MA and PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Poetry Business Competition and a 2014 Northern Writers' Award
His debut full collection of poems, Way More Than Luck, appeared from Seren Books in February 2018.
He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan, and among other things he works as poetry critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. You can find many of his reviews on this site.
To contact Ben about readings, workshops, or for any other enquiries, you can drop him a line at benwilko(at sign)gmail.com. Unfortunately, I am not able to consider unsolicited requests from authors for book reviews.

You can follow Ben on Twitter - @BenWilko85 - and on Facebook.

You can find B…