Sunday, 10 July 2011

Simon Armitage - The Christening

As always I find time quite a scary thing in that I have been meaning to write a trio of posts about Sheffield's Lyric Festival which took place in May and it is now already July. *shiver* but I am going to set myself a challenge dear readers to give you an update once a week! Bets are now on to see if I actually manage it...

So the Sheffield Lyric Festival, snuck up on me because it was a series of really brilliant, free events organised by Sheffield University and the advertising for it was appalling. If it hadn't been mentioned in passing by someone at a writing day I wouldn't have realised it happened!

Complaint aside, the first event I went to was the inaugural lecture of Simon Armitage. It was called the slim volume and the idiot lantern and was billed as a discussion about the relationship between poetry and TV but was essentially Simon talking about his career history and the half poetry half documentaries he'd done.

Now I never used to like Simon Armitage, his stuff I had seen on the written page had never worked for me and I had seen some of his poetry documentaries - namely porn the musical - and I though they were rubbish. Still do in fact and they had me thinking for a long time that all of his work was an 'I am a (insert long word that has nothing to do with anything)'.

However all this changed when I actually saw him perform live at Sheffield's Off The Shelf festival 2010. So I'm not going to get you to read his work, I won't you to click on the following link for the The Christening being read at another festival.

When I read this poem I thought it was crap and just couldn't get on with the juxtaposition of Whale facts and slices of pop culture. it jarred and forced me out of the piece but listening to him read it, the work flows naturally. I can appreciate that it is a single voice and so his thought about the Green Party and the fact his song his available on compact disc suddenly becomes not just humorous but an obvious thing for a whale to comment on. There is a certain magic in his voice the page can't capture.

So my advice if you're wanting to encounter Armitage and really appreciate - don't read him, go listen to him. Be warned you may end up being converted...

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