Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Writers and Readers Week: Poetry masterclass

I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been for the three poets in today's masterclass (Alistair Galbraith, Vida Zelenka and Jo Morris) to sit up on stage with Bill Manhire and read their poems out to everyone in the Embassy theatre. But they all looked surprisngly relaxed -which must be a tribute to Chris Price's chairing of the session, and also the supportive atmosphere of the audience.

Alan gave a wonderful description of the event that launched his poem Gliding; the day that he saw "an explosion of autumn thistle-heads" and suddenly realised how the wind is composed of such astounding shapes and complex movements. Vida's poem This is another church - full of energy and joy - which Bill surmised might be to do with running, turned out to have its basis in playing soccer. And Jo's poem with its intriguing title Accompanying person (Anaesthetic Conference, Wellington Town Hall) has stayed in my mind with its disturbing imagery, medical terminology and implied story.

After an hour, there still seemed so much to be said - although not everything was as carefully planned as it might have seemed. The capital letters at the beginning of each line in Alan's poem, for example, which Bill commented on as giving it a "Wordsworthian" feel, only came about because Alan was using an old computer that put them automatically!


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