All entries for Thursday 07 September 2006

September 07, 2006

Kicking Daffodils Reading

The line-up for the Kicking Daffodils Conference ‘Emerging Poets’ reading was: me, Zoë Skoulding, Helen Farish and Claire Crowther. The format of the event was unusual as each poet gave a ten minute statement of poetics and then a ten minute reading of their poems.

I was up first and for my ten minute talk, I chose to speak on the topic of ‘not confessing’ and I explained how in order to avoid the criticism that comes of writing confessionally as a woman, I have moved towards the mystery of poetry and the power of witholding secrets. Later, I recited poems using the Welsh and English languages, including ‘The Secret’.

Next was Zoë Skoulding, an excellent poet, who brought out The Mirror Trade , her first collection with Seren. Zoë and I tend to appear at poetry events together quite often and there is often confusion about who is who which causes much amusement. In her talk, Zoë wondered what it meant to be an ‘emergent woman poet’ carefully considering the different aspects of the conundrum. Her reading of new work preoccupied with the city-space was intriguing and demonstrated why her poetry has brought her considerable attention.

Helen Farish was bold and enthused in her speech about the difficulty of being a woman poet. Helen lamented criticism of so-called ‘personal’ women’s writing and she rightly pointed out that while critics may believe that the speaker of the poem and the poet are one and the same, often this is a misinterpretation and a simplification of the complex treatment of identity. Helen Farish’s poems are pioneering in their representation of the female body and her commentary on her own poems was illuminating. Helen published Intimates with Jonathan Cape and her collection was nominated for the TS Eliot prize.

Claire Crowther was next and in her talk she gave an illuminating insight into the difficulties for older woman trying to publish a poetry collection. By the end, we all agreed that the poetry scene is extremely ageist. Claire is a very accomplished poet who has been published widely in the TLS, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, PN Review and Ambit. She has a first collection coming out nmext spring with Shearsman called Against the Evidence . I look forward to it.


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