Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pulse is a new poetry festival for Brighton put together by The South. It's long overdue. Since Brighton Festival abandoned anything approaching an intelligent poetry programme, there's been little opportunity for us lovers of verse to truly indulge ourselves in the word and celebrate with fellow practitioners of the word, the way people can in cities like Bath, Bristol, London and rural spots of Aldeburgh, Ledbury and Hay.

Tonight's the launch of Poetry South, a new anthology that includes many of the poets who live around here: the highly acclaimed John Agard and Grace Nichols, Next generation poet Catherine Smith, football expert Sarah Wardle, lyricist extraordinaire Brendan Cleary, classy and direct Lorna Thorpe, incredibly perceptive Maria Jastrzebska, artist Tom Cunliffe, Shedman John Davies, shepherd Tim Beech, quietly punchy Robert Dickinson....complemented by the wit of John O'Donoghue, surprises from Hugh Dunkerley and edginess of Sarah Jackson. I'm in it too, with four tiny poems written in the bizarre otherworldliness that accompanies finishing a collection - found like lost coins around the house, these poems.

Anyway, it's a fine anthology that might well signal something to the powers that run this city and the arts in it that our quirky literary heritage is being nurtured and developed.

Also during the festival, launches of pamphlets from John O'Donoghue - The Beach Generation - and John McCullough - Cloudfish.....both accomplished collections of new work that I can't wait to hold in my hands. They're bound to look good because PigHog's doing them and a PigHog pamphlet is a beautiful thing.

The festival ends with a poetry fair at the Sallis Benney theatre on Saturday October 6 - discussions, workshops, stands. There's a discussion about whether there's such a thing as a regional voice. It's troubling me, this idea. Could our regional voice be a wail about house prices, a celebration of the melting pot we live in or a desperate search for identity? Or maybe a mixture of all those things. More thought needed.