Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

The Trouble with Poetry: Billy Collins's Aimless Love - review

Dubbed the “most popular poet in America” by the New York Times, Billy Collins has won countless admirers for his chatty, witty, wholly dependable poetry. At pains to welcome the reader with avuncular charm, he writes lines that are more serious than they seem, though by how much, you’d be hard pressed to say. Wry and self-mocking, his favoured territory is the suburban everyday – a pop song stuck in your head; people-watching on public transport; a “perfect” spring day – though he is most at home striking a knowing and self-referential pose, “looking every inch the writer / right down to the little writer’s frown on my face”. ‘If This Were a Job I’d be Fired’, quips the title of one poem, its narrator swanning off having penned the most inconsequential of verses. Philip Larkin would have surely labelled him the “shit in the shuttered chateau”. But while some critics have called Collins a philistine, there is a productive quirkiness to his poems, finding surprise and profundity in unp…

Poetry in Motion

POETRY IN MOTION
Why one Reds supporter is committing his love for Liverpool FC to verse


Liverpool FC and poetry have a lot of previous – from John Toshack’s Gosh It’s Tosh collection in the late 70s, to the verse of Dave Kirby and Peter Etherington in the fanzine Red All Over the Land, to the lines written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a University of Liverpool graduate, in the aftermath of 2012’s Hillsborough findings. Now there’s Ben Wilkinson, Reds fan and book critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, who’s compiling a series of poems commemorating the club’s legends. “Football is part of the fabric of life, and anything that’s important to people finds its way into poetry,” he says. “Wilfred Owen’s poem 'Disabled' describes a soldier who loses the use of his legs, meaning he can never play football again. Philip Larkin’s 'MCMXIV' compares boys queuing to join the army to fans outside Villa Park. These poems have stood the test of time because t…

Way More Than Luck (Seren Books, 2018)

From the thumping heartbeat of the distance runner to the roar of football terraces across the decades, Ben Wilkinson’s debut confronts the struggles and passions that come to shape a life. Beginning with an interrogation of experiences of clinical depression and the redemptive power of art and running, the collection centres on a series of vivid character portraits, giving life to some of football's legends. By turns frank, comic, sinister and meditative – ‘the trouble with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head’ – these poems uncover the beautiful game’s magic and absurdity, hopes and disappointments, as striking metaphors for our everyday dramas. Elsewhere there are tender love poems, political satire and strange dream worlds, in an urgently lyrical book of poems that take many forms and modes of address: pantoum, sonnet, sestina; epistle, confession, dramatic monologue. All are united by a desire to speak with searching clarity about matters of the heart. Way More …