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Reading at Arts Festivals, Part Two

16 Oct

Last week, I read at the Writers’ Café as part of Ip-Lit, Ipswich’s new literary festival. I was much less nervous than last time – I still have no idea where those nerves came from – and my reading was only hampered by the woeful sound system employed. It was still a waste of time, though. Only humorous short stories or gimmicky poems appeared to make any impact. And that’s really not my metier. My friend J Huw Evans, both a novelist and a very entertaining performance poet, provided the evening’s highlight and gained the best response. To quote and adapt another poet, ‘I am not John Cooper Clarke, nor was meant to be…’ I probably should have read something gimmick-laden along the following lines:

Short Story

A shout

‘Don’t shoot!’

I shan’t

Thou shalt

A door slammed shut

A shot

A blood-soaked shirt

Breath short


Blank sheet

But I didn’t. And don’t think I will. I’d rather spend my time writing or reading. Farewell, then, for the moment at least, literary festivals…


J Huw Evans reads in the distance…


PSR reads in the blurry foreground…

Text and images © PSR 2013


Reading at Arts Festivals

2 Jul

Yesterday, I attended the writers’ café at the arts festival in my local town and gave a reading from my recently completed war novel. The novel follows the fate of a bomber crew in their attempt to complete their tour of duty. It’s interspersed with tales about the other crews on base, one of which I read last night.

It’s something that I seldom do. It’s four years since I last did so, in fact. The reading seemed to go down reasonably well but I wasn’t happy with my delivery. In everyday life, I’m a very confident person. I talk to groups of people for a living. I read the Moomins to my children with gusto. For some mysterious reason, I just seem to have a block when it comes to reading my own work. I get nerves. Having spent years playing in bands and taking part in theatrical productions, it’s something I’m not used to experiencing.  Any tips from seasoned readers will be gratefully received!

Other readers were cool as cucumbers. And there was some impressive writing on display. Sian Notley’s monologue was superb. It was a shame that my writer friend, J Huw Evans couldn’t be there to treat the audience to his performance poetry, though.

Anyway, the reading that I gave has been added here to the ‘Writing’ page of this blog. I hope that you enjoy it, should you happen to take a look.


The author (centre) many, many moons ago, having recently departed the stage… And yes, that’s a bad haircut. Photographer unknown.

Text © PSR 2013, image © the photographer