> From Liverpool with Love

From Liverpool with Love

Par | 2018-03-17T15:13:54+00:00 17 octobre 2012|Catégories : Chroniques|


Planning a poe­try event in the north west of England was never going to be easy. It is a sad fact that London has the mono­po­ly on poe­try events in the UK, and those of us who orga­nise, with all good inten­tions, events out­side the capi­tal have to find our­selves against various tides of resis­tance. These rage from the finan­cial, (i.e. can people afford to come and socia­lise on a Wednesday night?) to the prac­ti­cal (does eve­ry­bo­dy work on a Wednesday night?) to the geo­gra­phi­cal (do people know where we are?) and the down­right vainglorious/​paranoia shifts that occur within the mind of the per­for­ming poet (they will all come to see me. What if nobo­dy comes to see me ?)

In London, the lat­ter is rare­ly a pro­blem. You could hold a poe­try gathe­ring at 3am and still pull a crowd of 20, easi­ly. But elsew­here, atten­dance is an issue. Now. There’s “elsew­here” and, there’s Liverpool.  Erbacce press is very much a Liverpool press, with edi­tor and poet Andrew Taylor born and bred here, set­ting up loft space as a make­shift office here (lovin­gly known as Erbacce HQ) and hoo­king up with other poets in cafes, cof­fee shops and gal­le­ries across Liverpool to dis­cuss publi­ca­tion and poe­tics. He lives and breathes the Port of Liverpool.

Unfortunately, the Port of Liverpool does not live and breathe the poe­try scene of 2012. It is a vibrant arts city. It is also huge on its musi­cal heri­tage. But sad­ly, the poe­try scene is very stuck in the 1960’s. There is a pre­vai­ling atti­tude of “if it’s not like Roger McGough, it’s not pro­per poe­try.” I mean this as no dis­res­pect to McGough. But we need to reach out fur­ther in our out­look. There is also the pro­blem of fac­tio­na­lism. I sup­pose this is because we are, in size, in spite of our his­to­ri­cal pro­mi­nence, a very small city. It may be inter­na­tio­nal­ly famous, but it has a vil­lage men­ta­li­ty in seve­ral res­pects. The poe­try scene suf­fers for this. There seems to be a very set way of going about being a poet and any­bo­dy who deviates from this mould tends to either be regar­ded with sus­pi­cion or igno­red.

So, for other poets, it’s no sur­prise that for conver­sa­tion, ins­pi­ra­tion and some kind of poe­try hap­pe­ning, we look to the next city, Manchester. There is a very encou­ra­ging recep­tion for expe­ri­men­tal poe­try here.  By expe­ri­men­tal, I do not just refer to that which is visual­ly inno­va­tive,  but also that which tackles issues that mains­tream poe­try is fai­ling to address. Feminism, class issues, LGBT life, and fal­ling in love not through cou­plet constraints and dic­tio­na­ry dic­tum, but tru­ly mad­ly obses­si­ve­ly, spraw­led over and out of the page to the point where the words may and well get up and walk. There is plen­ty of this in Manchester.

Through Manchester, I also had the plea­sure of wel­co­ming Jo Langton into my life. Jo is a Manchester based visual poet, a talen­ted artist who had her chap­book, [fill the silence] publi­shed by erbacce six months before I had my own. We both agreed that it was time for our­selves to become more invol­ved in the com­mu­ni­ty by hos­ting our own event, and also to give Andrew a chance to pro­mote erbacce to those who may have been new to the press down the motor­way.

The name From Liverpool With Love was cho­sen as a pas­tiche on the gig, From Manchester With Love, at which the bands The Smiths, The Fall and New Order played a gig in Liverpool, which Andrew was lucki­ly enough to attend in 1986 (I was a child, Jo wasn’t even born!) We thought it would be good to give some­thing back in the spi­rit of appre­cia­tion through poe­tic action. Jo set to desi­gning the pos­ter, a glo­rious mix of pink, red, a heart­beat, a pulse, our names, psy­cho­geo­gra­phics, all on the one flyer.

We chose a venue that was somew­hat new. We wan­ted some­thing dif­ferent from Manchester’s usual fac­to­ry set-up (much as I per­so­nal­ly love this) as what we real­ly hoped was to attract new faces. So the Thomas Bar, with its Parisian ligh­ting, red sofas and vanilla scen­ted room see­med just per­fect for us. It was cosy and wel­co­ming, but at the same time, deli­cious­ly modern. It felt of ano­ther age, and yet just ripe for now. Not to men­tion black­ber­ry gin cock­tails that set this par­ti­cu­lar poet up most plea­sant­ly for a fun eve­ning. Bliss.

Anxiety rei­gned for most of the day as to whe­ther any­bo­dy would show up. By the time the actual day arri­ved, Jo and I were ban­king on ten at the most. When we got past this num­ber, then we got exci­ted. People were actual­ly inter­es­ted. And not just being polite, recei­ved each poet warm­ly, enthu­sias­ti­cal­ly and with great levels of spi­rit and inter­ac­tion.

What plea­sed us so much was that the diver­si­ty of the line up reflec­ted that of the audience. Ursula Hurley was first to read, with a col­lage of loss, the city, of flo­wers and words to lift colour off the page and into the crowd. Angela Keaton then read an audience par­ti­ci­pa­tion piece that invi­ted the crowd to mimic a tide, with the room divi­ded into a repe­ti­tion of “let me in, let, me out.”

We then had Jo Langton with acer­bic words on rela­tion­ships, sex and the maga­zine aes­the­tic our real lives can reflect all too often, myself (femi­nism, shoes, femi­nism, Liverpool) and then Andrew Taylor, wrap­ping the eve­ning up in a beau­ti­ful piece of poe­tics.  Complete with Nico, the city and the lon­ging for a home within our­selves whe­re­ver we find our phy­si­cal pre­sence, in this case, the other city, Manchester, glit­te­ring, glo­rious and gene­rous in all its red brick win­ding arms and tan­gled tights roads. It was won­der­ful and wor­thy of poe­try in itself. It was the per­fect example of how if the work is put in, a poe­try hap­pe­ning out­side London is pos­sible, it just needs, like any flou­ri­shing plant, the right amount of love and care. Erbacce comes from the Italian for weed. We hope that through the night, buds appea­red through the cracks of the motor­way debris.


From Liverpool With Love, Poetry Event for erbacce press, The Thomas Bar, Manchester, 10th October 2012.