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Centre for New Writing springs into poetry.

10 Apr 2008

Report on Literature Live events in April.

Centre for New Writing co-director John McAuliffe was joined by fellow Manchester-based poet Matt Welton for this year's penultimate Literature Live event on 7 April, when they presented and chatted about their work.

Fittingly, John's first poem described his University office on the day he arrived, and he went on to describe his pleasure that his adopted city is so little written about. His own 'Middle Kingdom' cleverly associates categories from Thompson's Directory, to paint a mosaic-like picture of the colourful and sometimes sombre elements making it up.

John admitted to producing a tide of 'post-colonial' poems when he first arrived here, often describing a 'UK in ruin' using images he hadn't actually seen. In contrast, 'Road Safety' and 'Return' both describe John's Ireland via images of life in its undergrowth - be it roadside hedgerows or an ant-infested backyard.

Still fresh from a term's writing sabbatical he then treated the audience to a number of new poems, including an homage to Auden and a selection about his children's high jinks.

Matt Welton, who teaches creative writing at the University of Bolton, began his readings with a memorised description of the life of the character Jesus. He continued with a round-up of "old stuff", including 'The Bees' and the noted 'Delicious to say', before reading drafts of new works 'Home Economics' and 'Poppy'.

His section of the evening finished with the first person 'Sound of Things'. During the following Q&A session he admitted that this was one of the first 'I' characters he had written, having until recently banished the word in a bid to avoid writing about himself.

The following week the UK's leading poetry magazine Poetry Review came to the Centre, to launch its spring 'green issue'.  Editor Fiona Sampson was joined by featured north-west poets Michael Symmons Roberts, Michael Murphy and (Centre PhD student) Sarah Corbett, who each read a selection of their work.

Both events rounded up with a discussion and Q&A with the audience, giving students, staff and members of the public the opportunity to pick the poets' brains and potentially garner tips to help their own writing. The Centre's Literature Live events will continue over the summer with readings from some of its own published staff members, along with the next in its series of Martin Amis events on Literature and Religion (1 July).