Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A wide variety of entertaining readings

Leeds Writers Read
17 March 2014, 7pm Headingley Library

Vince Mihill writes:
Terry Buchan
On Monday evening, Terry Buchan, a local writer, staged an introduction to the Headingley LitFest by giving up and coming writers a chance to perform their works to an audience. These could be either short stories, poems, whatever, on the theme of surviving. Headingley is a unique place in that it's composed of students, ex-Uni people, bohemians and other writers, and outsiders -  in short, it's an interesting place full of intelligent alternative well read persons. There were many differing perspectives proffered on the survival subject.

First tonight was Peter Richardson who provided a six minute short story centring on a young African asylum seeker and her struggles.  It was delivered poignantly.  Steve Hobbs delivered a monologue on an injured soldier and read a poem based on his father's experience. He had a few fans in the audience which helped settle any nerves. Next was Vince Mihill, an aspiring noir writer, erudite and youngish in outlook, influenced by Jake Arnott and Cathy Unsworth. Despite not living in the Smoke he's influenced by the grit and grime of the Smoke and inner city urban decay. The audience were surprised by his unusual oeuvre.

Emma Parkin has been writing children's stories for a while now. She has a bubbly effervescent character tonight channelled into poems - very funny and off the cuff with a very different delivery which I liked.

Terry Buchan and and Ann Clarke read pieces for two voices: a (fictional) anti-poet rant by George Orwell and a poem on surviving celebrity.

Linda Casper's (from the East Leeds writers' group) contribution centred on an essay about the Yiddish language and its history. This was fascinating I thought as I knew little about the subject. I think it contrasted well with the other pieces and was well received by the audience - a mix of the local Headingley literati and book fans.

Marg Greenwood is a member of the Swarthmore drama group and has a unique take on life influenced by Python and obscurantism. She presented a collection of stories, trips to the isle of Muck and some almost haiku-like poems re. onions. Linda Fulton was last on. She delivered an extract from her searing account of the miners' strike in 1984. It was heartfelt, delivered confidently. It had echoes of the First World War and the Battle of Bosworth in it.  Linda has a great voice too which seemed to reach out to the audience.

After a break where wine and cranberry juice were served, an open mic session commenced. There were a few people from the Leeds erstwhile Borders group including anarchist fantasy writer Nancy Pike. Nancy wrote a kind of street blog influenced by the Streets and Lily Allen, an observation about the cluttered chaos of Leeds street life. The piece had a lot of energy, nay, chutzpah about it.

Next there was Gurj Kang who wrote quite a lengthy statement on life as a singleton. He imbued it with many influences especially popular culture which worked well and was reminiscent of American Psycho in places. My only criticism was that it was a tad too long. After this, Doug Sandle read about his experience with a personality reading machine at a sea-side amusement arcade, and finally Ann Clarke read an interesting piece about growing up in Leeds in the fifties.

So an admirable evening and I thought Terry handled it very efficiently. Leeds Library was a bit cramped but friendly and welcoming.

Audience comments: 

1.     Really good – great to hear such a variety of pieces from local writers. Headingley (and) Leeds has talent.  
2.     Good event. Great variety.  
3.     Such a variety of themes & ideas. Liked Emma’s humour & lightness and very impressed by Marge and Linda(2) on miners and Gurj’s  reading. Very enjoyable evening and entertaining.  
4.     A very pleasant evening with a wide variety of entertaining readings.  
5.     Good venue and thanks LitFest for hosting. The range of pieces came together into a reasonably varied format, mostly by chance!
6.     Loved listening to the variety and range of pieces.  
7.     Thank you. Great to hear the wide range of readings.
8.     Good mixture of styles – should be more events like this.
9.     A great opportunity to listen to a variety of styles and a wealth of local talent. Big thanks for organizing the event.
10.  A really enjoyable event great to hear such a range of voices, subjects, styles.
11.  Very good! Great variety J
12.  It was an exceptionally ground breaking event. Vince Milhill caught my eye – stylish, witty and oblique

13.  I found the poetry evening very interesting, I thought the poetry on Yiddish has particularly interesting as I am Jewish and I know the person who read it, Linda Casper.  

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