I was going to call this blog post Spirit of Jazz in recognition of the fantastic CD The Spirit of Trane by Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble because the band had me and the rest of the audience in rapture last night at Grimsby Jazz’s final gig of 2017. But actually it’s spirit I want to write about because it has been a week of feeling spirit in so many lovely ways and although last night was the apex there have been some fantastic moments of community and togetherness that I want to try to capture.
When we talk about spirit what do we mean? I think it’s a word that is myriad in its meaning and probably context specific. There was a spirit in the room last Friday when the community choir performed at Cambridge Court. There was a sense of shared purpose and fellowship which I think is captured in these pictures.
I know I talk a lot about the power and the value of singing together but it comes home when we go out into the community and perform. The choir’s spirit is immense; big-hearted, generous and welcoming. Monday evenings at St Mark’s should be available on prescription.
Last night’s gig at Grimsby Jazz was just spectacular. Gilad Atzmon is a genius and I would never use that term glibly. When Gilad plays Euterpe enters and something transcendent happens. The Orient House Ensemble is a stunning band. Each musician plays from the soul and inhabits the music so completely. It was an immeasurable joy to be lost in it. It was a poignant night as well because it was Gill Wilde’s swansong gig. But what a finish. My best human remarked that it was one of the best gigs he’d ever been to and I have to concur.
I woke up thinking about jazz this morning and its glorious defiance as a musical genre. It is so free and so revolutionary and it challenges you as a listener to really engage. I started going to the jazz in Grimsby years ago because I wanted to be excited by music and musicianship. I’ve had such an education and such revelations and have immersed myself in jazz as a writer and performer. I want more of it all the time.
Back to the ordinary world today and the second Riverhead Coffee Poetry Cafe. What a rich afternoon. The participants bring so much, not just writing but themselves. It’s evolving as a place to consider the nature of ourselves not just as writers but as beings, existing in a time and a place. Today there was such a wealth of shared narratives and everyone left with an uplift.
And spirit is the thing that unites this experience, the spirit of people coming together to do what they do; to talk, make art, share ideas, perform, give. It’s something spectacularly human and wonderful and the stuff of living. Long may it happen.
In Case of an Emergency: Book Launch. November 30th @ Moon on the Water
La Luna presents: In Case of an Emergency
Book Launch with Franklin College Young Voices
La Luna Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of its first anthology of ambitious new writing In Case of an Emergency. The book is the result of a project delivered by La Luna for the Franklin College Young Voices, emerging writers keen to develop their skills in both writing and performance. The book also features photography and original illustrations.
To launch the book La Luna is hosting an event at Moon on the Water in Cleethorpes on Thursday 30th November where the participants will perform some of their work. The event begins at 7.30 pm and entry is free. Copies of the book will be available to purchase for £6.00
The anthology has been produced with support from Arts Council England. The funding has meant that the young writers have had the invaluable opportunity to receive critical editorial feedback on their work from professional writers and editors Josie Moon and Nick Triplow. They have also benefited from workshops with professional poets Antony Dunn and Helen Mort.
It would be wonderful to have a great audience at the event to show support for these talented young people and the work they have done.
I always enjoy National Poetry Day events and was pleased to perform in Gy Central Library as McCarthy and Moon with Pat McCarthy. Pat’s fluid and open style of playing is working wonderfully well with my writing and the more we work together the more we find a warm symbiosis between the words and the music. Because Pat is a confident and seasoned improviser he encourages me to allow space in the delivery of the poems , freeing them more and more and finding new ways to present them. It’s exciting. I’m particularly encouraged to work increasingly in this way following a positive review of Fish Tales in Jazzwise which describes my delivery as velvety-rich. A member of the audience yesterday described me as swaying with sadness when I performed one especially elegiac piece. I’m quite happy to be both velvety-rich and swaying with sadness if I am touching the audience with my words.
As well as performing yesterday I hosted what proved to be a very moving and engaging poetry read-around at Riverhead Coffee in Grimsby, a great cafe with an open and welcoming proprietor who is very keen to support arts events. Along with the Franklin College Young Voices we had seasoned poets Gordon Wilson and Steve Meek. One of our Young Voices read her work for the very first time and it was raw, honest and powerful. It’s easy to forget when you’ve read at a lot of events and performed widely that the first time is terrifying. I think we created a supportive and appreciative environment for this young woman and I hope she’ll read for us again soon. Our Young Voices project is moving forwards at a good pace and I am sure La Luna will be publishing a powerful anthology later this autumn – and in time for Christmas.
This week I was pleased to be heard as a strident and unruly woman on my good friend and fine academic Ellen Wright’s podcast. Catch it here and listen to us discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the Hulu adaptation and our take on feminism in the wider culture. Happy listening!
Next week I’ll be bringing exciting news regarding the development of GGCC, the Great Grimsby Community Choir. In the meantime, cocktails, the annual flu jab and harvest festival require my imminent attention.
Yesterday saw the launch of the La Luna Young Voices poetry project at Franklin College. This project provides an exciting opportunity for young writers to develop their writing craft both for performance and for publication. Later this year La Luna will be publishing an anthology of writing from the young people involved in this project.
Special guest poet Antony Dunn came to Franklin College to deliver a workshop for the young people. Antony is a gifted and inspiring teacher and it was such a pleasure to see the students engage in some challenging exercises, and to hear the work they produced which was full of wit and inventiveness. Antony encouraged the students to work to develop their thinking and to run with their thoughts to see how far they could take them. This led to them being able to fully realise their ideas on the page.
Following the workshop we adjourned to the Franklin garden for tea and poetry with an appreciative audience. Antony is a seasoned reader and is compelling to hear. He introduces poems without paraphrasing them and gives profound insight into the poetic imagination that is the heart of his work.
Alongside Antony, the young people read their work, several of them for the first time. In fact for one student it was the first time she had allowed anyone to see her work. Her courage astonished and moved me.
Every one of those young people who read in the garden yesterday gave voice to something unique and beautiful about themselves. The honesty, openness and authenticity of their work was powerful. It felt like a great honour to be there, hearing their words and knowing that La Luna has the time, the money and the expertise to help these young writers to grow over the course of this project.
The project continues later this week when Nick Triplow and I will be getting down to the business of submissions, editing and handing work over for that all important critical feedback. I am looking forward to seeing the work on the page and to working with Nick, the students and their wonderful teacher Carolyn Doyley over the next few weeks. I think the outcome will be a truly magical book.
Thanks and credit must also be given to Brooke Downing, photography student at Franklin whose photographs not only capture the participants but also the spirit of the day.