The 2021 Lowry Lounge
Date Sat 30 October 2021
Time 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Location Sandon Room, The Bluecoat, Liverpool…
The annual celebration of Merseyside writer Malcolm Lowry (Under the Volcano) returned with its eleventh afternoon of talks and discussions at Bluecoat. As a Firminist, I took part.
Bryan, Ailsa Cox and Helen Tookey spoke on Lowry
events under lockdown; Alan Dunn talked about a project that looks as though it
will be ready next year. (More then, I hope.) Rob Keith talked at length on the
Panama Canal. Luckily, but coincidently, I’d re-read Lowry’s story ‘Through the
Panama’ the day before, and it was most helpful.
Helen is beginning to write a carefully crafted creative non-fiction book on Lowry and ‘us’, ‘us’ meaning the wider Firminist community. (It’s interesting to note that all the original Firminists spoke on Saturday.) Colin talked about Lowry and Burroughs’ cut up, and Mark Goodall spoke on Lowry and Bossa Nova, both teasing, unproven connections (about which I have a lot to say, if I get the chance). Michael Romer ZOOMed in – and is onto something about sexuality in Under the Volcano (particularly using the ‘new’ 1940 UTV).
I read my piece, slowly and deliberately as part of the ‘Open Malc’, with three other contributors. I thought this poem worked quite well in the context, given that In the Ballast had been explored a number of times, particularly by Helen. (See below.)
We then went to The Lion (as in the poem!) and went Sardinian, before going home, masked through the Covid-rich Halloween crowds. Certainly more masks in the Bluecoat than on the streets, other than Halloween ones. Our annual Day of the Dead celebrations often coincide with this madness.
Introduction to my poem. 'This poem, Circle of the City, is a series of haiku written (or drafted) while following the walk taken by sailor-revolutionary Sigbjorn and his shipowner father as described (in both senses of the word) by Lowry in his novel In Ballast to the White Sea. Their Liverpool walk starts (and ends) at Exchange Flags and skirts the docks, the shopping centre, and rests at a cinema to view a Russian revolutionary film. They discuss politics generally and, more personally, their culpability in the deaths of others. Like Lowry, I take in the messages of the urban environment I pass through: street signs, adverts, t-shirt slogans. There are, oddly, both in Lowry’s chapter and my poem, references to Melville’s Redburn. The Liverpool ‘guidebook’ Redburn carried was 50 years out of date. My ‘guidebook’ was the novel itself, Bodega and cinema both long gone.'
My cringe-making reference to Liverpool’s ‘Day of the Dodd’ didn’t make the final cut of the poem, but I mentioned it for a laugh!
This did make the cut, just a taster for now, since I hope to publish the poem elsewhere:
shadow of School Lane:
skirting backs of shaved buildings:
NOT KNOWLEDGE (Zappa)
(That’s one haiku and an interruption. It’s amazing what people put on t-shirts.)
See here for last year (our missing year, though there was a critical publication to celebrate): https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2020/11/in-lieu-of-lowry-lounge-2020-remaking.html
And accounts of some earlier years: