Thursday, February 28, 2013

york literature festival special feature one: tanka and japanese drumming

Today we have the first of our two scoops on events running at the York Literature Festival.

Many thanks to poet Oz Hardwick for giving us more insight on how this highly interesting collaboration came into being.

Oz says: The long version of the story goes back about 20 years to when I was in a band with a chap called Aaron Turner. Subsequently we've run into each other on and off, most recently in situations where he's been playing with Kaminari Taiko, who are the only group in the north of England playing Japanese style percussion, and I've been reading my poetry.

So it was that about 2 years ago he asked me if I would be interested in writing something to complement some percussive pieces. I've always had an interest in short forms (most of my earliest publications were in places like Haiku Quarterly, Presence & still), and I've also worked with a lot of different musicians, so I jumped at the chance.

I thought it would be interesting to have two voices, so I involved Amina Alyal, whose work I have always liked, and we set about writing an extended sequence of mostly tanka.

We started with a few ideas each - my own approach was to mix aspects of medieval English poetry with medieval Japanese verse - but then started responding to each other's work to the extent that there are several sections of the piece that I can't remember who wrote them.

We presented these to Aaron, who arranged them with existing taiko sequences as well as developing with Kaminari some new sections. Naturally, once it all came together, we then all started tweaking bits and pieces so that the words and music really come alive with each other. 

The process didn't end there, as the whole thing has been reshaped for each performance so far and I'm sure it will continue to be so. It really is quite thrilling to be a part of the performance, as you don't just hear it, you feel it!

The York Literature Festival brochure says:
Kaminari Taiko drumming group join forces with York writers Oz Hardwick and Amina Alyal to present powerful rhythms and intricate wordplay. A dynamic spectacle of words, sounds and biceps. Kaminari Taiko is a Japanese-style drumming group drawing members from North and West Yorkshire and has been playing in the local area for three years.
Taiko is an art form that reinterprets ancient shinto and buddhist drumming traditions for the modern day, and is rhythmic, dynamic, atmospheric, and visual. Amina Alyal is a poet and a lecturer in English literature. Her interests cover Renaissance literature, poetry, drama, oratory and myth. Amina has written for music and for musical performance and is currently working on two collections of poetry. Oz Hardwick has written three collections of poetry, including The Illuminated Dreamer (2011).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

poetry snapshots: caroline gill


The peat fire crackles and burns with stories:

footsteps scurry through mist and mountain

to warm a Hebridean hearth with stories.

A figure crosses turf where St Columba

knelt long ago beside the Snizort:

the crofter’s creel is laden with stories.

He pauses to watch the snow-stars drifting

on the loch, with its kelp and pebbles:

hares in the lazy-bed leap with stories.

The crofter enters his neighbour’s parlour,

rests on the settle while divots smoulder:

a plaintive skirl fills the room with stories.

Shadows dance round the doleful piper,

whose music makes the embers tremble:

the single oil lamp flickers with stories.

A mother stirs her three-legged cauldron:

sisters spin, or weave at the handloom,

infusing a homemade plaid with stories.

Hailstone tears pound the snow-flecked Cuillin,

recalling the Clearances, emigration:

the Ceilidh House overflows with stories.

© Caroline Gill 2013

Publication …

1] By the winter fires (ed. Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2009)

2] The Holy Place (poems by John Dotson and Caroline Gill, published by Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, in conjunction with Stanley H. Barkan of Cross-Cultural Communications in New York, 2012)

Caroline Gill’s poetry chapbook, The Holy Place, co-authored with John Dotson from California, was published in 2012 by The Seventh Quarry Press (ed. Peter Thabit Jones) in Swansea, in conjunction with Cross-Cultural Communications (ed. Stanley H. Barkan) in New York. The Holy Place was launched at Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, birth place of Dylan Thomas. Three of Caroline’s poems have been included in The Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics Including Odd and Invented Forms by Lewis Putnam Turco, 4th edition, (University Press of New England, 2012). Caroline won first prize in the international Petra Kenney Poetry Competition (general section) in 2008. She was awarded the title of Best Fixed Form Poet of 2011 by the international poetry journal from India, Metverse Muse (ed. Dr. H. Tulsi). Caroline is an external collaborator for the Romanian journal, Orizont Literar Contemporan (editor-in-chief, Daniel Dragomirescu). Caroline’s poems have appeared in publications from the UK, USA, Romania and India. Her poem, ‘Preseli Blue’, featured on the BBC Poetry Please programme in 2008 from the Guardian Hay Festival. Caroline’s tercet ghazal, ‘Migrant Hawker’, has been selected for inclusion in Heart Shoots (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2013), in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Work by Maya Angelou, John Betjeman, Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas will feature in this anthology.

Caroline has a blog and a website.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

poetry snapshots: steve urwin

What Am I? #2

Morning pager

Professional whinger

Porridge eater

Ribena drinker

Trials rider

Mountain biker

Music lover

Biscuit hoarder

Bus hopper

Dummy spitter

Journal keeper

Avid facebooker

Luck pusher

Jazzhands cuddler

Poetry jammer

Stanza shaper

Indy publisher

Rule breaker

Manic ranter

Audience scarer

Multiple slammer

Dust shaker

Garlic dodger

Middle Word In Life

If only they’d done more sooner

If only they weren’t out of town

If only the little boy hadn’t played with matches

STEVE URWIN  blogs at Scribbles from the Brink of Inertia and is also on Facebook here. He was born in 1970 in Consett, County Durham where he still lives. Diarist, editor, publisher, poet, his work has appeared in magazines such as Fire, Open Wide, Other Poetry, Sand, Smiths Knoll and Tears in the Fence and has been broadcast on BBC Radio. His debut full-length poetry collection “Tightrope Walker” was published by Redbeck Press in 2001. Steve is a widely respected spoken word performer throughout the North East of England. He is the 2008 Bare Knuckle Poetry Slam Champion, 2008 Northern Lines Poetry Slam Champion and 2011 Middlesbrough Intro Festival Spoken Word Stage Slam Champion. His second poetry collection Hypomaniac, published by Red Squirrel Press in 2009, was September Book of the Month in North East cultural listings magazine The Crack. His latest book Shades of Grey was published in October 2011 by Red Squirrel Press. Steve works as a creative writing facilitator – mainly within mental health settings – and runs Talking Pen, organising live literature events and publishing limited edition monographs and pamphlets. He hosts the monthly Writers’ Open Mic Night at Lamplight Arts Centre in Stanley, County Durham; and Poetry Jam at Waddington Street Centre in Durham City. In 2012 Steve made a 20th Anniversary reissue of his first self-published book “There Are Easier Ways of Living than Bleeding to Death” and was a shadow poet coach for Shake the Dust national youth poetry slam. He likes mountain biking, black clothing and bleak music.

York Literature Festival HUB 2018 event, Tuesday, 20th March

I'm looking forward to my first event for absolutely ages - at the York Literature Festival HUB. Many thanks to YLF and Valley...