I have just come home after what has been the most exciting reading I have been to. I was in London to attend the Oxfam extravaganza of launches: The Manhattan Review, a US journal. In this is a huge feature, introduced by Todd Swift, of seventeen up and coming poets from the British poetry scene. Of those seventeen, thirteen were able to give readings of their work - and bonus of bonuses, Penelope Shuttle was also in attendance.
MR is edited by Philip Fried, of New York, and not only did I go home with a copy of his journal, but I also brought back a copy of his latest slim volume from Salmon, Cohort, which is also very good indeed.
The readings from the poets were magnificent. Todd did a great job of giving each and every one of poets a great introduction: most were very buoyed by his warm words and I have to say that I think it was the best entertainment in poetry I've ever experienced.
First poet up was Sally Read, whose poem 'The Lullaby Hours' I thought was an exquisite rendering of the time and the way that a new baby takes up all of your life.
Luke Kennard, who was next read 'The Dusty Era,' a prose poem: I've previously seen his work in Mimesis, and thought it was really interesting. Apparently he is researching a PhD in prose poetry, so one passion is feeding another in his case.
The rather good looking Joe Dunthorne (I know one shouldn't say things like this, but hey!) read a very clever 'Sestina for my friends,' even though he was a little under the weather.
I was very, very taken with Zoe Brigley's poem, 'The Jewel-box,' which she told us was based on the famous Freud 'Dora' case.
Nathan Hamilton read 'Clearances,' which went down very well.
Another poem which struck a chord with me was Helen Mort's 'A Bear in the City of Bicycles.' A really clever poem which used a very funny reference from a letter by Byron.
The first half closed with Daljit Nagra reading 'The Gob-Smacking Taste of Mine Inheritance!' A pleasure to see and hear a poet whose first collection Look We Have Coming to Dover was such a big surprise in 2007.
After the mingling and jingling of coinage, the second half opened with Emily Berry reading her really thrilling poem, 'A Short Guide to Corseting.' I know of one Galway based poet who would really enjoy that poem, if indeed not all her work.
James Byrne read 'Apprentice Work,' a poem I.M. of Peter Redgrove, which worked out really well, since Penelope Shuttle was there.
I also loved Kathryn Simmonds reading 'Sunday Morning' another clever poem, with such a simple premise.
And Alex McRae's reading of her 'West of Ireland Fly-Fishing Champion 1952' used separate but related images to carry a chilling message quite simply.
Jack Underwood was quite the charmer, and read both poems from the anthology, 'Certain' about an onion (yes!) and 'And what do you do?'
The last of the young Brits was Isobel Dixon who read 'The Buried Butterfly' a wonderful elegy in imagery.
Lastly there was Penelope Shuttle closing this poetry extravaganza (I do not use that word lightly!!!), with a short reading of her work, which also features in The Manhattan Review.
Just one disappointment for me: unfortunately work pressures kept Ben Wilkinson away from this gig - he was the intial reason why I decided to go over to this gig, when he posted about the Young British Poets line up in The Manhattan Review and the subsequent reading. And also Jacob Polley, who I also wished I could have heard read. However, I'm not sorry I went, Ben: thanks for the heads up!
Like I said, it was a really great night... I couldn't help feeling that I was seeing history being made and it was nice to witness it. Fair play to Todd, Phil Fried, Oxfam and all that great poetry talent.