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).

1 comment:

Japanese Class said...

In case you are interested...we are performing the show again. Details are:
Theatre & Art Performance Presents Drums and Tanka
Thursday 18th April 2013 - 7.00pm - Venue St Columba's URC Building Priory Street York
Tickets £7 (£5) All welcome!

(Mary from Kaminari Taiko)