I've been invited to read a poem at the end of season Troubadour summer party. It's going to be hot. It's going to be full of wine and poetry and music and prizes as well as a warm and inviting atmosphere.
It's been almost a week since we returned from the Beyond the Border festival in South Wales. And I've still not quite recovered. It was a fantastic weekend. We've been coming to the festival since Iona and Arran were 4 years old. They're now 23. Iona bought her boyfriend and some friends to help her celebrate her birthday. I think we celebrated it in style. Below is a video giving a flavour of the festival.
Two performances that will really stick with me were Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden's Odyssey on Saturday evening. On Sunday was Beyond the Border's 25th birthday celebration. There was music, poetry and story. David Ambrose performed Dylan Thomas's, Poem in October to end the evening. Absolutely spellbinding. I feel so much of my life is lived in straight lines. There isn't a straight line at Beyond the Border. It's good to remember that there are other ways to live.
This looks incredible. Thought you might like it. Click here to the Astronomy Picture of the Day post. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180527.html Video Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory, SVS, GSFC, NASA; Music: Thunderbolt by Lars Leonhard Explanation: Does it rain on the Sun? Yes, although what falls is not water but extremely hot plasma. An example occurred in mid-July 2012 after an eruption on the Sun that produced both a Coronal Mass Ejection and a moderate solar flare. What was more unusual, however, was what happened next. Plasma in the nearby solar corona was imaged cooling and falling back, a phenomenon known as coronal rain. Because they are electrically charged, electrons, protons, and ions in the rain were gracefully channeled along existing magnetic loops near the Sun's surface, making the scene appear as a surreal three-dimensional sourceless waterfall. The resulting surprisingly-serene spectacle is shown in ultraviolet light and highlights matter glowing at a temperature of about 50,000 Kelvin. Each second in the featured time lapse video takes about 6 minutes in real time, so that the entire coronal rain sequence lasted about 10 hours. Recent observations have confirmed that that coronal rain can also occur in smaller loops for as long as 30 hours.
Here's a couple of photographs taken at the Soundlines Poetry evening on 26 April. The first one's of the readers taken at The Lighthouse in Deal. It's actually the last regular Soundlines poetry event at the pub and I was honoured to be one of two special feature poets of the evening.Thank you to Gary and Jeff for inviting me to read. Thanks also to Soundlines and the audience for the warm, relaxed and welcoming atmosphere on the evening.
I've been searching for this recording of the slow movement of Rodrigo's Concierto De Aranjuez. Now suddenly I found it again - probably 40 years after I first heard it. I think it is an extraordinary recording. I first heard it in the late 1970's but somehow I managed to lose track of my vinyl record. I'd moved home several times and then the CD thing happened.
A few months ago I tried again to search it on YouTube and incredibly I found it. I thought I'd posted it to this blog but I can't find it. So here it is.
Below is the image I used for the poem Two Springs.
Although the photograph - taken from the Cassini space probe in 2006 - uses false colour to highlight the complex weather systems at Saturn's arctic, I've written the poem based on this photograph rather than what you can actually observe on the planet.
Image credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA Here is an edited reading of the poem I read at The Troubadour on the 26 June 2017
It was a great end of season poetry party at The Troubadour last Monday night. It was a great evening full of lively and interesting poetry from a whole range of poets. I loved every minute of it. I'm incredibly grateful to Anne-Marie Fyfe who runs Coffee-House Poetry evenings at The Troubadour. She continues to be a support to me and hundreds of poets out there. Greg Freeman was there with his own poem, a camera and note book. Here's a link to Write Out Loud where you can find the review of the evening. He even mentions me and quotes a line from the poem I read.
A good friend and I have a project to play every studio Album released by Pink Floyd. About once a week we get together and play the next record. On Thursday we played Meddle, released in 1971. So far we've played, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, More, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, - we played Zabrinskie Point because I mislaid my copy of Meddle, and then last Thursday Meddle.
So far it's been a pretty dull affair. And I'd call myself a good fan of Pink Floyd. I could probably name the number of good songs on two hands in these records. Oh okay then I will. They are Astronomy Domine, Interstella Overdrive and Bike. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, A Saucerful of Secrets and Jugland Blues, - the live set on Ummagumma - which includes Careful with that Axe Eugine, Granchester Meadows, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast might have been included if it wasn't for the kitchen. Fearless - the football fan sound effects are fairly marginal and finally Echoes. With Echoes there is a transformation in the sound. Suddenly everything is working together. The sound effects of whale song and crows cawing work incredibly well with Richard Wright's atmospheric keyboards and Dave Gilmore's stark guitar. The different movements of the piece and the shift from one movement to the next works very well for me. I've not heard the studio recording of Echoes for a very long time - decades in fact. But I have watched a live performance on youtube over the last few years. I think it is an amazing recording. Anyway hearing the studio recording again I remembered why I'd become such a fan. Echoes stands the test of time. It had taken Floyd a long time to mature as a group. If I'd been following them since their UFO club days in 1967, I think I would have long given up on them. Honestly, its been a real trudge after the promise of Syd Barrett's songs- and even here there are some very low points, through hopeless film sound tracks, and then the Walter's early years. Then suddenly they emerge into the light for - if I was generous the next 4 and a half albums. But in truth only 2 and a half of the next 5 records. Musically they were such a limited group. On Echoes I can still hear a Saucerful of Secrets and I can hear fragments of The Wall, recorded 13 years later. Echoes indeed! I wonder what it was that struck me about them? There really wasn't much to appeal to me. The first time I heard Pink Floyd was sometime between 1974 and the summer of 1975. A friend led me into a record shop. Discoveries in Harrow. Outside were boxes filled with second hand records. There were rows of them. The front of the shop was a green grocer's. But at the back in a second room behind the Green grocers was the record shop. I still remember walking up to the counter. My friend must have said something to the guy behind the counter. Then silence. I waited till I could hear the first clicks of a clock, a synthesizer gathering definition, an overdubbed voice. I loved it. In those first 10 seconds of The Dark Side of the Moon my world had changed forever. The experience of the UFO club in London must have been very intense. Their fans must have been incredibly loyal, having to wait a tortuous 4 years before anything truly remarkable emerged.
Jason Bourne is a disappointing post script to the Bourne Trilogy - we won't even mention the Bourne Legacy - because this film - Jason Bourne - is far superior in so many ways. However it still fails to meet the quality of the original trilogy. There was nothing new. Repetition of ideas began to creep in to the trilogy - but only once or twice. Watching Jason Bourne was revisiting the shadows or ghosts of the original scripts and episodes. There was nothing to raise the film above the other three. Car chases, one to one fight scenes, unrelenting action that rises with tension, falls and rises again to an even more extreme pitch were all done far better in the original.
Jason Bourne is too crowded. There are epic crowd scenes especially in Athens. How did they do that? But in the end it contributed nothing positive.It left me feeling confused and dazed without the satisfaction of serious plot developments. Jason Bourne is too fast. There's not enough time to develop character. Perhaps I'm just out of date. But showing is better than telling especially in film. And I need more than one establishing shot. I think, plot and character need to be established again and again from a variety of different perspectives. Because the action is so fast - we move all over the place - I began to loose faith in the physicality of the action.
Plot. There were aspects of the plot that almost worked. I can believe that Nicky Parsons has grown a conscience and is now challenging the work of the security forces. I thought the narrative concerning social media and Wikileaks was also good ground to establish a plot line. But again these need to be simple and need time to develop carefully. Perhaps the trilogy allowed character and plot to develop over a three film arc. Now established Greengrass and Damon must have thought all they needed to develop was plot. But this was patchy and didn't really convince me of its fundamental value. OK! I can accept a revenge plot in which an asset exposed by Bourne wants him dead. But this is given a too lighter touch. David Webb's father Richard Webb didn't really take off at all. I want to write that it doesn't take much to establish these features - a few seconds here, a slow meditative shot there, but I'm aware I'm probably writing about a multi-million dollar enterprise in which those kinds of shots are just too expensive.
So next time I come back to the Bourne films will I watch 3 or 4 films. Well maybe 4 next time. But thereafter probably only 3.
When I came away from the T. S Eliot short list reading at the Royal Festival Hall in January this was the book I least expected to win. Alice Oswald seemed to me to me the front runner. So it took a little while for me to buy Jack Pooley's collection Jackself. Even once I'd bought it - in February, I reluctantly picked it up to read. And yes it took me a little while to get into this collection.
Perhaps I was put of by the cover - a dismembered paper cartoon puppet without a face. Or maybe the title. But whatever the reason. I struggled to begin with.
But it grew on me. Sometimes playful, sometimes dream like. At other times dark and disturbing. Jackself is a series of loosely linked poems about Jackself - Jacob Pooley's childhood in rural Cumbria.
There's a patchy narrative arc that begins with Jackself. Then poems about the friendship between Jackself and Jeremy Wren. They are adolescent, challenging, playful and disturbing in their behaviour, their conversations and their view of the world.
I enjoyed reading about rural and village life. It is descriptive and detailed. I enjoyed reading about the boys friendship. It's both humorous and honest. The boys seem restless, adrift and without meaning. Except in their friendship. Sometimes. And yet I couldn't invest the poems with value. Perhaps that's down to Pooley writing from an adolescent perspective. Maybe that is the nature of adolescence.
But then Jeremy Wren dies. He commits suicide. I don't know why. Pooley evokes a strong sense of loss and this is really powerful and moving? Is it? So I suppose I found the emotional distancing - not only with the death but throughout the collection - a struggle. I suppose I expected some kind of resolution, closure or healing. But there was none. That's not a weakness in the writing. It reveals my own immaturity as a reader and especially as a reader of contemporary poetry.
Oh well! Ho hum! I'll try and write a better review next time.
Wow! I woke up at 4.00 am yesterday morning and couldn't get back to sleep. About 20 minutes later I was sitting in our sitting room, wrapped in a blanket, a reading light on and Kate Tempest's book - Let Them Eat Chaos in my hands. I finished reading the book about 2 and a half hours later. Wow! So I was in good company. Tempest's eight voices - the narrator plus Emily, Jenn, Pete, Zoe, Bradley, joined me in that dark and disturbing hour where the poem is set at 4.18. That hour when we wake shadowed by our fears and anxieties. Joined me in a south London suburb - although mine significantly west of Tempest's - I guess. I enjoyed best the presentation of these 7 personas. She depicts their different lives, one wealthy bored and restless, another - Pete, drunk or wasted on drugs fumbling his way home after a long night. Another voice comes home after a night shift as a carer. They are believable. Their anxieties and situations are realistic - perhaps she draws on her own experiences. What I found quite difficult were the global concerns she addresses such as: capitalism, gentrification, celebrity culture, political corruption and global warming - I borrowed this list from the Guardian review. It's difficult addressing any one of these issues properly in any genre, but in poetry and all of them together is quite a challenge. Earnest - yes, heart felt - probably. But it's difficult to listen to a rant or a sermon. But it is Kate Tempest herself that really shines through the book and the performance. I've attached it above. She's young, she's from south east London, she's incredibly articulate and her poetry and personality radiates a hard, fierce love. Here's a link to the Guardian review and one from Dave Coats
Bone Tomahawk I watched this film late one night when my wife was a way for the weekend, and I didn't know how to end the day. This was an impressive film. For the most part this is a conventional Western. Set in the mid-west in a little town called Bright Hope. It begins with an attack on the small town by a group of savage cave dwellers. They are presented to us as a mysterious species human. There's the killing a young stable boy and the abduction of two or three townspeople including a deputy sheriff - Nick and the doctor's wife, Samantha, played by Lili Simmons. When her injured husband Arthur - played by Patrick Wilson finds out about her abduction he immediately starts out to get her back. So a small posse - made up of Sheriff Hunt - Kurt Russell, John Brooder played by Matthew Fox and Chicory - Richard Jenkins, - sets out on a five day trek across scrub land and desert to bring her and the others back. Despite the conventional plot - of white woman and innocents, abducted by strangers - it is the writing that really appealed to me. The dialogue and the attention to character and the development of the relationships between the posse that really made this film special. From Arthur's simple Christian faith and single minded determination to rescue his wife, Brooder the fearless, maverick gunslinger, the Sheriff - plain speaking, responsible and honourable, and finally Chicory - an old deputy - his dead pan humour, he's completely loyal and determined to do the right thing. There is a quiet, natural and unassuming quality to the writing that really impressed me. Apparently the writer / director rejected all attempts by studios to accept the film on the basis of changing the script. All praise therefore goes to S. Craig Zahler for his uncompromising position.
However visually the film contains probably the most shocking act of on screen violence I've ever seen. Thankfully it is only one short scene lasting 20 seconds. But it continues to be disturbing every time I think about it. This is where the second film genre takes over - briefly yet successfully for being so brief. Horror. Finally what struck me was the ending. The survivors of this encounter with unspeakable horror are the most unlikely characters. This is a film that should have gained - given its great character actors and first class acting - a much wider audience. Kurt Russell is incredible I think. Anyway if you don't believe me read this review of the film in the Daily Telegraph I still couldn't end the day after watching this and stayed up a further 2 hours. I might post to this blog the results of that experience if I have time.
I've been enjoying reading Falling Awake by Alice Oswald. I think this latest collection is absolutely outstanding. I've only read the first half a dozen poems and I'm completely hooked.
The book won the Costa poetry prize for 2016. And it was short listed for the T. S. Eliot prize. I remember when she won the T. S. Eliot prize for her book Dart. I was totally mesmerised by it. This collection is doing something similar. Oswald is a nature poet. She's brutal and elemental in her depiction of her Dartmoor surroundings. She pays close attention to detail. She brings the reader up close to her subject. We are present with her at dawn, a dead swan or badger. On one level their is a mindful presence about the experience of reading. Or are we kneeling in reverence at her subjects. Her writing is accessible - and yet she is not comforting. There is a music in her language but the song is not easy.
Welcome to my 2017. I'm one of about 50 poets who have been invited to read a poem at The Troubadour on Monday 20 February. It is always a dynamic and interesting evening with a wide range of poets and poetry. It would be great if you came along. The theme of the evening is weather. So you better come prepared.
Click here or on the picture Stormy Weather by Frederick Varley above for more details.
About 50 poets read at The Troubadour last night. It was a fabulous Christmas end of season poetry party.
Was it the theme of the evening - night? Was it Anne-Marie's apparently effortless managing of the event? Was it the staggering array of some really interesting poetry?
Or was it the subterranean atmosphere - blinding spotlights, the dark corners of the cellar, the close and intimate seating, or Cahal's music? I don't know. But one can't get away from The Troubadour's history - seasoned with the presence of Martin Carthy, John Renbourne, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon among many others.
I don't know but I was pleased to be there and honoured to be invited to read again.
I'm reading at The Corner House Arts Centre this evening in Surbiton on the theme of remembrance. Doors open at 7.30 and the poetry readings begin at 8.00. There is a £4.00 entry fee and I think that includes cheese and biscuits.
I was at The Troubadour for the announcement of The Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2016 last night. We heard the prize winning and commended poems as well as judges reports from Jane Yeh and Glyn Maxwell.
Some of the poems that really stood out for me in the evening included Balloons by Betty Thompson, from Co. Wexford, Ireland Ode to an Octopus by Catherine Temma Davidson, from London Writing Him Out by Elizabeth Parker, from Bristol and Flight,by Giles Goodland, also from London You can read the Glyn Maxwell's and Jane Yeh's report and read the winning poems here.
On Sunday 23 October we held a music recital and poetry reading at our local church. This was our main fundraising event to raise money for a specialist hand and foot pedal bike for me and raise money for the disabled cycling charity Wheels for All. The event was an incredible success. We are now at a point where all the money we raise from now on will go to Wheels for All. During the performance I realised that love bound us all together. Those giving - time and skill and money and those receiving - listener's, observers, musician and reader/poet and audience.
I'd like to say a very big thank you for the amazing - overwhelming support - practical, physical, material and loving - we received throughout this whole project.
So there I was this morning driving to hospital for an appointment with my usual companion Radio 4 keeping me company when I hear the words "Berkel Bike". Click here for a link to today's programme of You and Yours. The article - about this year's Cybathlon that took place in Switzerland recently begins 19 minutes into the programme and lasts about 8 minutes. The bike section of the article begins 23 minutes and 20 seconds into the article and lasts about a minute. Below is a photograph of Jonny Beer Tims part of team Imperial at the Cybathlon this year training for his event on a Berkel Bike.
I spent National Poetry Day - yesterday 6 October in Kent with friends. While Alex printed out 250 copies of a short booklet of poetry I spent the day stapling and folding the booklets. I've produced the booklet to help raise money for a hand and foot pedal bike. If you'd like a copy then send me an email to david[ ]loffman@conjuring[ ]sun[ ]light[.]com. I've presented my address here with brackets in an attempt at foiling any non human readers of this post. Don't forget to include a delivery address for the booklet. And don't forget to delete the brackets from the address. I've suggested £4.00 a copy. You can pay for the booklet by donating to my just giving page here www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/david-loffman-1 or click on the photogragh of me test driving the bike.