Sunday, October 03, 2021

Untitled by Joanne Ashcroft and Robert Sheppard performed at the European Camarade 2021(video and links)

The European Camarade at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

October Friday 1st : 7pm doors : Free entry

 3 Cambridge St, Manchester M1 5BY. 

Supported by The Manchester Poetry Library, the 2021 European Poetry Festival came to Manchester once again with some of the finest modern poets of the thriving Manchester (and beyond!) scene in collaborative pairs with writers, some from across Europe (but not all). New performances made for the night in this unique Camarade event, all recorded here (Manchester 2021 — European Poetry Festival) featured the pairings of 

Patricia Farrell and Michael Egan

Ailsa Holland and David Gaffney

Tom Jenks and SJ Fowler

JT Welsch and Colin Herd 

Lydia Unsworth and Sarah Clare Conlon

Callie Michail and Scott Thurston

David Spittle and Stephen Sunderland

James Davies and Matt Dalby

and Joanne Ashcroft and myself.

It was a splendid evening, and I enjoyed all the performances: from Scott and Callie moving to James and Matt tramping and registering the byways of Manchester; from Tom and SJ's guide to life after Covid, to JT's and Colin's tongue-in-cheek scrying into the ether to pick up signals from the last pre-Covid Manchester Camarade..(this one:

It was splendid also to SEE PEOPLE after Covid (if it is 'after Covid' yet), and just to get that feeling of being at a poetry EVENT. (My use of capitals hints at my excitement. Well done everyone, and thanks Stephen!)

Anyway, here is what Joanne and I did, text and video.

Untitled European Poetry Piece 

When was the last time you ate a pear?

Who in response reaches out to me with their voice?

What happens in Venice when the wind doesn't blow?

How did the moon rise in their fluttery hearts? 

Didn't you stay over at her house that night when we did the blues?

Do I remember?

Maybe I should just go solo?

Maybe I should just go?

But can we really live so deliciously in this word world?

What happens after the end of the world?

Shall we bump and rattle our way out into the savannah once more?

Or trace the goosestep of the phrase?

Whose flesh makes that sound?

Can the dog register the nuance when the woman calls him Lennon while the man calls him Lenin

How does lemon drizzle cake tickle your taste buds?

Could you misspeak a melon for no elm at Noel?

Whose lips could manoeuvre that tongue twister?

Am I part of some puzzle, a puzzle within a puzzle?

To whom will I sing when I am upside down?

¿ You mean, like a Spanish question mark for the Spanish Question?

You mean tapas or paella?

Did you notice that the special effects in the park ensured 'autumn', the few leaves blown by a wind-machine around the shoulders of the actors we have become?

Shall we quit that masquerade ball and run along the narrow, frozen pathways in the forest, scoured of snow by the wind?

Whose memories of earlier days are flooding in to erase today's details, or to fill the blanks with some counters which are not the counters of our counterfeit day? 

Must I trace the loss of today's daydreams that catch in my throat like notes floating on dry air?

Must you?

Which way are you going?

What do people have for breakfast? 

Why does my skin itch less in the summertime?

Well, you never know - do you? 

Who left the light on, again?

Whose eyes rose, and neck strained, towards the brown ceiling, from which musical instruments hung: a flute; several Spanish guitars; a miniature violin with bow; a trombone with its slide extended, mute witnesses to music that may not be heard, the melodies that float above our heads at all times? 

Whose belly hummed at each note played, whose toes tapped an irregular rhythm while in a corner the skull was shaking a deeper colour from its body's memory up into that shimmering web?

Is the same note always the same note? 

Is the listening ear always human?

Do you want to buy a book of my poems? 

Do you want coffee with that?

Are you sure you don't want a book of my poems?

Or perhaps a wooden bowl of milk?

Beautiful world (comma) where are you (no question mark)


Joanne Ashcroft and Robert Sheppard: September 2021

All the videos of the above performers may be accessed here: Manchester 2021 — European Poetry Festival

Here we all are!

Curated by SJ Fowler and Martin Kratz. 

Some of my previous collaborative readings in Manchester are featured here:

Pages: Rimas Uzgiris and Robert Sheppard: collaborative poem 'Unreadable Expressions': text and video and notes

I write about the Camarade in some of my ‘Collaborations’ posts, beginning here, and review SJ’s book of selected collaborations. The introductory part one, flags up the themes and surveys the territory, here:

Part 10 is an account of Fowler’s poetics of collaboration. Here:

Part 11 is an account of Fowler's collaboration with Camilla Nelson (as it reads on the page), here.