Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Preparation Vortex Part 4

The posters are all finished. They look magnificent and are a testament to Martin's skills. One each were done by Mark de la Torre and Claire de la Torre. I visited the print works this evening and was able to stand and appreciate. We will probably be hanging next Tuesday if Phoebe can accommodate us.
I also had the opportunity to run through my proposed programme of readings with Martin. I think he approved and he responded positively to most. I'm sure I will stick with what I've planned. I think the material will hold up - all depends now on my performance on the day. I need to be sure of my introductory pieces for the poems that require it. I seem to have an awful lot going on in the meantime, and as soon as I finish one thing something pops up. I have to go to Cheltenham on Saturday morning which I need like a hole in the head, and the next altered books meeting is next Monday - I haven't even thought about it yet.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Preparation Vortex Part 3

Firstly, let me correct a spelling mistake. Mark and Claire's surname is de la Torre and not as I stated.
I have realised that my second reading coincides with the men's Wimbledon final. I think we all know where our priorities lie, do we not? In our modern era of super-surveillance, I will of course be able to run checks of the whereabouts of all expected audience members through Turn Up's HD Surround-Envelope Bend-O-Scope Pork-U-Zoom Position Detector with updates at 3 minute intervals (and even then we miss significant action). Apart from the need to come up with a snappier name for the gadget, R & D have pretty well ironed out most of the kinks, which may be self-defeating. Never mind - the drawing board isn't going anywhere.
Martin is nearing the end of the production line for the posters, and I realise that he has dedicated many hours of amazing work to this project. He deserves all the recognition he can get and really has worked wonders. Perhaps I should give a little more thought to the consequences of my suggestions, which all seem innocuous over a pint in the Prince.
As I come to consider the minutiae of my readings, the question of the introduction arises. I think Tinsmiths will need to have input for that. Note to self - must chat to them about that.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Preparation Vortex Part 2

I said I would say more about Mark’s poster. He tackled the one called Madly, which goes as follows:

We all need a muse
And saviour;
Let me introduce
Miss Behaviour.

You’ll learn Latin,
Love and History,
But her methods
Are a mystery.

She’ll teach you
Intensely, madly,
Teach you
To behave

When he’d printed a few copies off, he casually remarked to Martin whilst they were at the print works, “it’s a bit of a strange poem, this one; I mean, ... ‘she’ll teach you /intensely, madly /teach you to behave /baldy.’” Martin did react.
This poem originated in an earlier poem of mine called ‘Hangover’, which was too long to transfer to a poster whole. That can be found in I’ve Already Spent It, copies of which will be available at the readings.
Of course with a sense of humour like that, we’ve whipped Mark onto the drum stool for Echo Road. Lucky boy – well, he’s turned up twice so far. I always feel that the second week is the crucial one.
Back at the printworks, Claire, Mark’s wife, is setting another of the posters. She hasn’t quite finished because Martin was taken ill on Friday. Hopefully, that is under control, but it put her back by a few days. Martin explained that he wants to get the last couple finished now because they can take up to 4 or 5 days to dry.
Claire, of course, is one of the legendary Girls of Tinsmiths, a very important component in the realisation of our conspiracy. Maybe there should be a picture poster, showing triumphant women workers greeting the new dawn, to celebrate their contribution.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Preparation Vortex part 1

Here at Turn Up Towers all is clanging, banging, rushes of activity, as we head towards my appearance, nay appearances, in the forthcoming Ledbury Poetry Festival. Crack teams of mental gymnasts are devising ever more recondite preparatory callisthenics to ensure correct attitude and peak performance.
‘Correct altitude?’ did you ask? Oh yes, we’ll be cruising with optimum stratospherocity. I’ll be focused on the drinks trolley, the light in my tunnel, as the end point of my trajectory once the necessity to be seen as presentable has evaporated.
The exhibition is shaping up well. The posters are looking good, and Martin has allowed some input from Tinsmiths and associates, and there are some inspirational results emerging. I saw a great one by Mark de la Tour the other day. More on this next time.
So, if you are interested in the slightest, the readings will be at 11 am and 2.30 pm on Sunday 3rd July at Tinsmiths’ yard in Ledbury High Street. Each will last for 45 minutes, and I intend that there will be some variety between the two.
And you will also have the opportunity to purchase posters and books. The posters are fairly unique, and of limited quantity. When Martin tried to order some more poster paper (which is made from rag to withstand the weather) he was told that it was no longer available. The options seemed to be that they could specially manufacture some for a minimum order of 10 tons, or supplies could be had from India. Fortunately, Martin found a stack in a corner of his workshop to keep the presses rolling. The serious point is that ventures like this may not be so straightforward in future – a reflection of the way in which printing has rapidly become a computer-based art with the attendant collapse of the old ways.
This is not an exhibition or an opportunity that we are likely to be able to repeat. You owe it to yourself to witness it. You really do.
Stay tuned for further tales from the preparation vortex.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ledbury Poetry Festival

This year’s festival is rapidly approaching, and apparently ticket sales are looking a bit grim for some of the events. I think one should always look for a late surge.
I am taking part this year in a collaboration with Martin Clark of Tilley Printing. The roots of this go back a couple of years to the exhibition Jeanette McCulloch (another of my very best collaborators with Excavations of Eternity) organised under the title Unsung Heroes. I wanted one of my poems, March, to be exhibited as a poster, looking like a revolutionary broadsheet. Martin laid it out and printed it so well that it garnered a lot of comment. I thought there was scope for some more and he was up for it. We approached Tinsmiths, with whom Martin works quite closely, as they have the perfect wall and yard to produce a good visual exhibition. Phoebe agreed, but wanted to wait for a year as they were already hosting Roger Abbot in the 2010 festival.
So was born The Talking Wall, the name I thought gave a good encompassing concept to include my reading. I will be reading twice on Sunday 3rd July at 11 am and 2.30 pm, for 45 minutes each. I will not exactly reproduce the first reading with the second, although slightly more than half the poems will be repeated. These are official programme events although because they are free I do not have to wonder about ticket sales. We will have up to 12 poems on broadsheets and limited quantities of each for sale in the festival. I have also written some poems to go with this project, and will also weave in others I think work in such a presentation. As the day approaches, I am getting more fired up at the prospect, and I think it will hold its own.
I have also been asked to read at a Tree Frogs gig at the Retreat on 30th June. I am honoured that they should consider me, and I will put my mind to some appropriate material. Maybe one accompanied by some background jazzy music would work. I’d certainly like to have a go at that. I will probably try to use other poems than the Talking Wall ones, but maybe only in respect of the specific Wall material.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Echo Radio

Well, it's been done; the great Echo Road radio spot, broadcast under the name Pablo Alto, and with a live interview segment with Danny and me. We were charming, the music sang from the speakers, and is now permanently stored on BBC Hereford & Worcester's sessions page along with all the others who have appeared in session.
We weren't as together as we might have been, but that's nit-picking; generally, I think it went ok and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I was able to pose the essential question over the airwaves; Where are you, Joolz?
What now for Echo Road? We appear to have lost Joolz which is a shame because he was good and a nice guy. However, we will now be trying out Mark de la Tour who has been playing drums at home for the last three years. He may not like what we do, but we're giving him a go on Wednesday and hopefully he'll bring another flavour to the mix. As far as I'm concerned, it's important that we should all have an equal say in how things go, although as usually happens, the more energetic each individual is in putting in his oar, the louder he'll be heard. It's important that we all keep in mind what we're doing with Echo Road; we're trying to discover our collective persona, and give it reign. Each change of personnel means subtle alterations to that. I'm quite excited about where it all may lead.