ESSEX POETRY FESTIVAL
at the Cramphorn Theatre
This year's Essex Poetry Festival ended in style with a day-long event at the Cramphorn Theatre.
Before an evening of 'lyrical dexterity, sly erotica and absurdist humour' from George Szirtes, Annie Freud and Luke Kennard, we heard Fen Song, an evocative blend of poems by Clare Crossman with songs from Penni McLaren Walker – Brian Coulston lending instrumental colour on mandolin. So the rich imagery of The Orchard Underground was followed by Gipsy Tale and “No school for you my little one ...”, her Green Man by “Jack Among the Green” and Etheldreda on the Isle of Ely by the same text as a song, to end a splendid set of East Anglian words and music.
There were readings from Essex poets Victor Tapner, Susan Grindley and Kay Chingango. And to kick off the afternoon, a lucky dip Open Mic session, considerably enlivened by contributions from Rhythmatic Dispositions, a young people's poetry collective from Tendring Technology College, who gave us witty conceits from Max, and a fresh take on Jacques' Seven Ages from Adam and Oli.
It's an oft-repeated truism that poets are not the best people to read their own work, but there were some good performances here: Ambigram from Canterbury, with their tobacco and chocolate, and Peter from Maldon, bemoaning the cat's pawprints on his car. I also enjoyed John's Instructions to the Visitor, Christopher's Provenance, about a mysterious painting, and 1915, about his grandfather's field compass. And I appreciated the happy juxtaposition of Chris's father's 'Youth' and Ralph's 'Old Age'.