Sunday, 28 November 2010

Joel Lane at Poetry Bites

Joel Lane is a Birmingham based poet and novelist whose work is always authentic, well-honed and powerfully read. It was great to hear him at Poetry Bites, a regular event in South Birmingham run by Jacqui Rowe, a true poetry activist in the area who took over P.B. a while ago from Sibyl Ruth, another noted local writer. It receives no outside funding.
Joel doesn't pull his punches politically or socially, some themes are dark: but this, as they say, is the "real deal", this is how to write and read out poetry, effectively, your own, and needing to be spoken and heard.
His latest collection is "Autumn myth", Arc Publications - out now.

The Park In Winter

Cannon Hill Park under a very chill if thin covering of November snow....

With an enterprising squirrel looking for a warming snack -

Two concerts one world

Mozart, superb flute-playing and spirited singing.
CBSO at Symphony Hall, with Marie-Christine Zupancic the flute soloist. Hafner Symphony, Flute Concerto and Requiem.

Traditional folk instrumentals and singing from the Middle East, combining Arab and Israeli/Jewish strands in a campaign to overcome divisions in an area of such pain but such rich cultures too. Brave people, and it was a priviliege to be in the audience in Birmingham, with no-one under threat and people from the different cultures represented. Middle East Peace Orchestra.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Martin Carthy in concert at the MAC

The classic English folksinger with a musicologist's knowledge and memory of songs to match, alongside a genial manner, precise touch with some tricky instrumentals, plus stamina at nearly 70: all appreciated by a full theatre at the Midlands Arts Centre.
Glad I could go with two friends to enjoy this national figure in a local gig.

Mary Stuart by Schiller via Andrew Cowie

Schiller's "Maria Stuart" - in a modern English version as Mary Stuart, the Scottish Queen executed under Elizabeth I after years of imprisonment.
Intriguing to see a German take on part of the English myth: the strong virgin Queen as being pressured by ruthless and calculating Burleigh (a Mandelson of his day?) and the mob outside into signing her cousin Mary's death warrant. Mary as a passionate, charismatic Catholic leader; both tested by their passions and conviction of power. Ultimately, for one to live, the other dies - and neither Protestant nor Catholic can avoid complicity in the Realpolitik and the abuse of religion to justify false charges, torture, judicial murder and the evasion of responsibility by the monarch for all of these.
With a deliberate parallel to machinations around the launch of the Iraq War under Blair and Bush, with the now late Robin Cook's resignation speech in an eery voice-over.
At the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham, 09/11/10.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Remember Burma

With internationally denounced, sham elections taking place to reinforce the Burmese military's brutal and debilitating hold on the country: remember the brave women and men supporting the hope for democracy some day in their country. Aung San Suu Kyi: the true leader.
The picture here is from a small event in Birmingham city centre to think of Burma and what's happening there.
See AmnestyBrum blog for details of this event: and Burma Campaign UK website for more about the elections and the Burmese situation.

A leafy park

Autumn Lights