Sunday, 6 March 2016

House Event - Sankakei - On An Eastern Breeze

Richard Wilcocks writes:

Oz Hardwick and Michael Graham
Our house this afternoon became the setting for a beautiful dream journey very soon after Sankakei began: Michael Graham sat in the middle, hands dancing over the strings on a pair of kotos, while Oz Hardwick and Amina Alyal stood on either side as poetic punctuators. The palaces and gardens of Old Japan floated above, cranes lifted off from their own reflections in sacred lakes and saffron-robed Zen monks meditated in mountain retreats. It was an intimate experience, with the captivated audience just a few feet from the performers, practically 'on stage' with them. Michael was a centre of attention after the three quarters of an hour set, answering questions about Japan, where he lived for seven years, and on his rare and wonderful instruments: he must be the north of England's number one expert on them, describing the samisen (or shamisen) as "a kind of banjo" played with an enormous equivalent of a plectrum, and the koto as a descendant of a Chinese instrument (the guzheng) which was first played no less than two thousand five hundred years ago. "It's a kind of zither," he told us. Some zither! The carefully chosen and composed poetry fitted well into a performance which spanned more than two millennia of oriental culture.

It had been advertised that there would be an appeal for money at the (free) event, and Sandra Derler, who has just returned from meeting and helping refugee children on the flimsy boats arriving on Lesvos, brought a laptop with a looped slideshow of recent photographs taken there. I read from a Facebook account of a young volunteer on the island, followed by People Run by Michael Rosen. The collecting bowl was on the table next to the cake and the baklava. The eighty pounds in it at the end of the afternoon will be for NGOs on the actual beaches.

There was poetry in the second session: Hannah Stone read poems which included some from her recently-launched collection, I read a new one by myself entitled In Nunhead Cemetery and Becky Cherriman read a selection from her new pamphlet Echolocation.

Audience Comments
What a lovely intimate event, that gave evidence of a lively literary community. The other readers were outstanding (Oz Hardwick)

Nice intimate atmosphere and range of performances
Samisen and Koto   Photos by Richard Wilcocks

The most interesting musical instruments I have ever seen or heard. A fascinating afternoon!

My first ever HOME EVENT. It was very homely and everybody was talking to each other, it wasn't formal at all. The music was good and interesting, there were some good poems. Very Good.

Particularly enjoyed the poetry readings in the second half. I also loved the idea that donations were given for refugees. Lovely informal event.

The mixture of poetry + music was wonderful, harmonic. I loved the looping words and musical themes and the two voices. So rich in imagery!

Lovely afternoon! Poetry and music were wonderful. Also enjoyed tea and cake.

Intriguing programme, beguiling performance.

Quite interesting poetry along with the playing of quite unusual musical instruments. I particularly enjoyed listening to the music and thought that the poetry fitted in nicely. I liked the other poetry readings as well.

Friendly hospitable setting - an interesting mix - oriental and western - original and creative work of a high standard. Amazing Japanese instruments (that I can't spell or pronounce). Excellent!

It was like a performance in an art gallery - perfect - I loved it.

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