[ 04-02-2009 ] Richard Barrett, Lucy Harvest Clarke, Patricia Farrell

The 4th of February 2009 was a nasty old night in Manchester – windy and cold and damp. Bleak, in fact. A bad night for the local wildlife but a great night for a girl like me with an avid interest in contemporary poetry and a dire need to defrost in front of a real fire whilst sinking a few bottles of pear cider – for it was the night of the other room’s 6th reading at the old abbey inn. Yey.                                                                                                                                                                   

It wasn’t as good a turnout as usual insofar as only the select few die-harders braved the gale to turn up, but it was a great turnout insofar as I got to sit, drink, chat and smoke [albeit outside and without the warm glow of the heaters] with two of the three poets who were reading – Richard Barrett and Lucy Harvest Clarke.                                                                                                      

Richard and Lucy, I think, are two of the youngest poets to have read in the series and I enjoyed both of their performances/readings a lot. Richard’s was leisurely, laid back, humble and quirky with some poems actually written in grammatically correct sentences which made ‘sense’ [a fairly rare occurrence at the other room, and a welcome one for a relatively unexperimental poet like myself]. A number of the poems he read were set in the hum-drum of the workplace and most were comically prosaic, many having fun little twists at the end, for example CHATTING is a series of 6 beginnings and ends of what seem, at first, to be mundane conversations:

           a:  Can I borrow your stapler?                           Are you getting a sandwich? Come on then.

which get more interesting towards the end:

           f:  Will you come here for a sec?                     I will need to think about that.

Lucy’s performance was youthful and enthusiastic with an endearing cuteness which came from both her apparent attempts to recite bits of the poems from memory and her apparent need to stretch up to reach the microphone. Her fervent gesticulations and slightly Liam Gallagherish poses were a pleasure to watch. The poetry seemed pretty good too, although it came at me fairly fast and fragmented, leaving me craving for a little more detail or coherence. These last 6 lines [especially the rhyming couplet] from one of her ‘sonnets’ struck me as particularly nice:

                                      this must be a cloudful                                                                                                                            
                              to love a painted pane                                                                                                                          
                                             squares must now round till                                                                                                                   
                                                          the chemical wash wanes                                                                                                                      
  but we are blind my john          
and dead to the off/on

The third reader of the night was Patricia Farrell and her poetry came across [before going over my head] as very intellectual, serious and, unfortunately, not as much to my taste as the other two – Richard and Lucy are, I think, closer in age and social class to me [31, working class] than Patricia is and so, naturally, their poetry was embedded in and growing from a culture with which I am more familiar and concerned. All in all though, a really enjoyable, relaxed evening where a girl could go one better than to rub shoulders with some of Manchester’s coolest poets, she could actually cadge stuff off them like a book, a drink or even a lift back to civilization. [cheers guys]

Jaime Birch










2 thoughts on “#06

  1. Impossible to compare. Different poets, different aims, different approaches, different spheres of operation. And different clothes.

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