5 Jun 2017

Happening Tonight

The culmination of several months work, volunteering to support Dr Catherine Marcangeli in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Mersey Sound, 'Happening Tonight' was intended as a low key reading of work from Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, fifty years to the day after the publication of Penguin Modern Poets No10. Along with students from Edge Hill University and a brace of established contemporary poets, the evening became one of magic and surprise.
Firstly a BBC film crew asked to be invited along to film the event, with a view to preparing a BBC4 documentary on the anthology, then on the day of the reading, I discovered that Roger McGough himself was going to be making a special appearance. If I wasn't nervous already, meeting one of my poetic heroes in person was a major event.
Novice reader Eve Lewis gave a spirited rendition of classic poems, no small feat for a student just entering her second year on the Creative Writing course. 
On one of the hottest nights of the year so far and in front of the spotlight, I was wilting delivering my own response to the Mersey Sound - 'Miss My Mersey Mermaid'. 
Mark Greenwood of the Dock Road Press cooly and calmly showed us how it was done with a selection of original work and his own performance pieces. 
Fellow Masters student Sue Comer, herself a conceptual artist as well as a writer, gave a lovely, measured performance in a three part homage to the book. 
Tom jenks, the imaginative and inventive founder of Zimzalla, read his favourites from the anthology in his own inimitable style. 
After a brief interval and a phony hiatus by myself, I was overjoyed to reveal my special guest, Roger himself, the very epitome of calm and controlled performance. 
Although his appearance was meant to be a secret, I think word may have leaked out, earlier.. 
Fellow collaborator Brendan Quinn gave a powerful performance to a sequence of poems, one for each of the big three. 
The elegant and talented Patricia Farrell reads her own performance piece 'Take my hand and let us rumple the surface of this ice cream'. 
Robert Edge showed no nerves as he rounded up the shows penultimate performance. 
By this time I was sufficiently relaxed to allow myself a slight smile - with the satisfaction that the evening had gone well. 
My final guest, my own tutor in poetry, the great Professor Robert Sheppard presented the rousing 'Batwoman Sutras' 
To round off the evening Roger McGough took questions from the audience, before enjoying a natter and a beer with the crowd. The mark of a true professional!