A week of Readings: how was it?

Primarily as a direct result of Ripon’s fifth Poetry Festival (RPF), I have read at four events over the past week. So how was it?

Thursday: RPF – Open Mic. In many ways it was a typical open mic: massive variety in terms of style, content and quality. The most jarring element of the event was perhaps the compère who seemed to pursue his standard ‘patter’ regardless of the fact that it was totally unsuited to the audience.

Saturday: RPF – Anthology Launch. The festival hosts a poetry competition with the best poems selected to be included in the festival anthology. At the launch, all those included in the anthology (not just the three winners) are given the opportunity to read their submissions – which is great. However, whether a reflection of the general standard of submissions or a paucity in entries, I confess to being disappointed. The majority of what was read simply wouldn’t get a look-in when it came to New Contexts.

Sunday: RPF – Ripon Writers’ Group reading. Although a smaller scale affair, the general standard of poems read was – to my ear – higher than that at both open mic and anthology launch. It was also nice that a number of us were able to read more than one piece. One of my own poems, ‘Grief‘, went down particularly well I think.

The Ripon Poetry Festival is without doubt a superb initiative. We have been graced with some big names over the years; for example: Simon Armitage, Michael Rosen, and this year Helen Mort and Tara Bergin. There is always a stream for children – and this year a children’s anthology too! – as well as a range of workshops, readings, and other events. Long may it continue!

Tuesday: Northallerton Library Poetry Group. Seven of us, members of the group, read our own work to a small but select audience in Northallerton Library. It was a really pleasant event; suitably relaxed, and with really good quality contributions. The Q&A after about 50 minutes’ reading was a nice way to round-off the event.

So overall a bit of a mixed-bag, which is probably to be expected. But most importantly of all was that these events happened, that there was a platform for people to read their work – and that there are so many people who write and love poetry. Long may that continue too!