The HCE team arrived in the more-than charming surroundings of Much Wenlock for the last day of the Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014.
Arriving late morning we descended on a book stand at the Edge Arts Centre and went to meet and greet other writerly-types from across the UK, of course, we are far too anti-gauche to name-drop directly, needless to say it was a pleasure to mingle in such distinguished literary circles!
In search of refreshment, and nourishment of the spoken, chewed and spat-out word, we visited the George pub for the final open-mic of the festival on the theme of nature and place. The event displayed a vibrant mix of the earthy-toned geography of the Shropshire valley landscape and humourous recitals of people in flux and out of time from once familiar places – it was great to see poets from Birmingham, Wigan and Derby share their respective points of view from lands high, low and, like Coventry, flat.
We continued on to other pubs, Talbot, Raven et al and visited the rather brilliant Wenlock Books which has great coffee, a fine typewriter and most importantly a brilliant array of secondhand books as well as a rather charming set of brand new poetry tomes.
On a passing note, much of Much Wenlock, The Talbot pub in particular, suggested a distinctly older poetry crowd, perhaps the reckless youth were hung-over following an excess of rhyme from Friday night into Saturday morning, but nonetheless it was a shame to see the lack of younger poetry-lovers…that being said, we missed the Foyle young poets (13-17 year-olds) reading, so perhaps everyone was there? Regardless, this spurs us on to boost engagement both on the page and in person.
Three Go Mad…in Wenlock
At 4.30pm we came around to the Old Pottery, two poets in tow and the third punctual upon arrival. All three read a poem featured in issues of Here Comes Everyone magazine, as well as other selected works.
Neil Laurenson (Worcester) kicked-off the affair with a series of nuanced and understated poems that prick as much at political absurdity as they do at the national pomposity of museums and “public” gardens, with a liberal dose of Karl Marx thrown in.
Dwane Reads (Derby) burnt through a fierce set of his brilliantly orated poetry that is both yelled and cooed (sans audio assistance) with poetry that is forhright on social injustice and tenderly empathetic (and very bloody funny to boot).
Antony Owen (Coventry) worked through three collections of hard-won imagery evoking the Coventry blitz and modern conflicts with an eye and ear towards challenging the myopic racism and social divisions that remain prevalent throughout many parts of the UK.
All three poets were greatly received by a small but keen audience – SP would like to thank Wenlock Poetry Festival for having us, our poets for reading and the loyal listeners who shared the experience with us – we hope to return in 2015!
Adam Steiner, 1/3 of SP/HCE.