With the beginning of the festival in touching distance this is the perfect time to discuss what’s happening over the coming days.
First, a sort of inflatable igloo that has sprung up by the Market is attracting a lot of attention from passersby. This is The Barclays Wealth Hub, a purpose-built venue where many of the festival’s events will take place. Starting from around 9 o’clock tomorrow morning The Hub will be a hive of activity, where anyone can drop in and meet authors, hear readings and learn more about the festival. After sunset The Hub will be lit up in spectacular fashion. The festival is lucky to have such an innovative centre of operations.
The Hub is not the only venue which is going to teem with activity over the next four days. Events are being staged aboard buses and on the Herm ferry; Les Cotils, both Guilles Alles and Priaulx libraries, Costa Coffee in the Arcade and Elizabeth College are all due to play host to renowned and emerging talents. Since listing all of the luminaries involved would make this more of a slog than a blog, I must unfortunately limit myself to profiling just a few of the festival participants.
Caroline Bird is an extremely accomplished poet who has won a number of prizes in the process of publishing three collections, the first of which came out when she was 15. She has been shortlisted for the prestigious Dylan Thomas prize on three occasions and was president of the Oxford Poetry Society, a position in which she is said to have excelled.
Her poetry is profound, without ever sounding portentous. She has a cutting voice, which is compelling and endows commonplace words with dynamism. Under her treatment quotidian subjects become somehow dramatic. I say somehow since it is hard to discern exactly how she gets the imagination going. Yet she manages to create, with deft touches, a sense of the surreal in the everyday. Her language feels fresh and her performances could be among the festival highlights.
She will be one of the perfomers at Poetry Café at 4pm on Friday as well as performing a solo show at The Hub from 5pm. At 10am on Saturday she’s going to host an adult writers’ workshop at the greenhouse.
A Profile Double
Last year Peter Kenny and Richard Fleming, two writers who will be familiar to regular attendees of local literary events, released A Guernsey Double. This collection was a collaborative work, comprising each poet’s reflections on the island. The pair will be reading from this joint publication during the festival.
Richard and Peter will read from A Guernsey Double at 3pm on Thursday and 12:30pm on Saturday. They will also give recitals during the festival at Les Cotils. Details of the time of their performance to follow.
A lot of Peter’s present and past output deals with Guernsey. This intrigued me, so I asked him about his connection with the island. He describes a connection which is deep held, to the point that it seems to define part of who Peter is. “The spooky beauty of the island haunts my imagination” he says. His writing about Guernsey comes from, he says, “the truest part” of him.
Peter says that returning to the island, where he lived as a child, reminds him of who he is. It was, in fact, moving to London during his childhood that inspired him to take up writing. Guernsey was often the subject of his early scribblings (his word, not mine), as he sought to rebel against the “huge, grey city” he found himself in.
In A Guernsey Double his connection to the island is given voice. He describes the collaboration as one of mutual admiration and trust, which amounted to a successful attempt to put the island centre stage, making it the star.
He says he’s excited about his children’s sessions during the festival, in which he’ll talk about character development, for which he has an apt model: Skelton Yawngrave, who has been crafted through drafts at Brighton schools and will see his day in novel form in the near future.
Peter will be at The Hub at 9:30am on Friday to present his Skelton Skangrave workshop to the children.
Richard Fleming has had a prominent and influential role in the Guernsey literary scene for a number of years. He says that working on Guernsey has allowed his writing abilities to blossom. This is perhaps due to the patience and toughness which Richard says island life encourages. Deep thought has clearly gone into his work, which resonates with intensity.
He has been widely published in the past, and has recited his poetry at numerous events, including last summer’s Lake Orta festival in Italy. Richard has been involved in a variety of local writing events, from adjudicating poetry competitions for the Eisteddfod and other organisations, to curating the Pens and Lens exhibition at the greenhouse and helping to organise the successful Poems on the Buses scheme.
Ade Morris is Outreach director and Writer in Residence at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, where he has staged several plays. He has also written extensively for local schools, touring secondary and primary schools with such titles as Beth the Bin Lady, which looked at recylcing issues, and The Roof Project, which aimed at tackling misconceptions about homelessness. He has also, in his position as Outreach director, produced a screenplay for the Morpheus Theatre at Phoenix Resource Centre for people with learning disabilities.
Here’s a extract from his production Bubbles:
Ade will be hosting a drama worksop at Les Cotils on Friday at 10am. There will then be a play reading at 2pm on Saturday, also at Les Cotils.
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