Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The North comes south

l to r: Sarah Salway, Liz Bahs, Peter Sansom, Ann Sansom,
Lin Lundie, Michaela Ridgeway, Rebecca Farmer
The Poetry Business, publisher of iconic magazine The North, is celebrating its 25th anniversary and its two directors, Peter and Ann Sansom have been on the road for months.
Their tour included a weekend masterclass at Chesworth Arts Farm in Horsham to bring November to a brilliant conclusion.
Both are inspirational poets and workshop leaders. Peter's book Writing Poems (Bloodaxe) is a classic. Many of the UK's leading poets have been published in The North, often at the start of their careers. The Poetry Business pamphlets, too, offer a good representation of the state of British poetry.
What made the masterclass work so well? 10 willing participants, lots of writing, intelligent reading, logs, biscuits, coffee and tea, the quiet of Chesworth - stepping out of the everyday and seeing it differently.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Unknown artists

Detail of a painting by Kate Rook 
You find them in jumble sales, charity shops, car boot sales - paintings by unknown artists. You might buy one for its frame, for the cat's face staring back at you. I have a woman who reminds my mother of her awful aunt, another a line of cottages by the sea where I've always wanted to live. The cat's face is perfect but the robin sitting close by is way too small. The snow on this boy's wellies and coat only shows in a digital photo - in the print itself you'd need perfect eyesight to notice. Each of the childrens' faces in this large painting of a school and playground on a snowy day is individual. Intriquing, isn't it, that an artist can pay such attention, be so precise and be untraceable. What happened to Kate Rook?