Friday, October 13, 2006

Chester Poets and Cliff Yates.

Last night it was the turn of the poets at the Chester Literature Festival. Chester boasts a fine long-established group of poets Poets. (Obviously I am in the mood for making obvious statements. Last night I revealed that it was 'difficult to see in the dark' which someone pointed out was a quite well-known fact. Well, it's been a tiring week - my only excuse.)

The venue for the reading was the Bear and Billet pub which is a fine old building built in 1664. However it was so gloomy inside it was as if we were relying on the original tallows or candles. The guest poet, Cliff Yates, could hardly see. In fact, in the end, another lamp was brought in because the strain was getting rather too much.

But it was a good evening - after an entertaining and varied selection from Chester Poets Cliff Yates took a turn, reading from his anthology 'HENRY'S CLOCK' (which was winner of the Poetry Business Competition 1998 and winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize) and his forthcoming collection. Cliff Yates's poetry is witty and a characteristic feature, which certainly comes over when he reads, is that it ends in mid-air. Each time it happens it is unexpected, no matter how many times you hear it. He also makes sharp little comments that make you think so much you have to be careful not to miss what comes next. For instance, in the middle of '14 Ways of Listening to the Archers' he says:

What do they do
when we're not listening?

Then carries on with next stanza.

Cliff has also written a book on teaching poetry in schools called 'JUMPSTART POETRY in the Secondary School' which has many ideas for teaching poetry and which I used in my classes to adults.



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