What a friggin' brilliant day at uni today! In poetry class we were treated to a visit by Cliff Yates, poet, writer, teacher and bloody nice bloke (excuse my language)! This isn't the first exposure I've had to the bundle of creative energy that is Cliff, I saw him read not so long back in the Rose Theatre on Edge Hill's campus. I'm not sure exactly what it is I like about his work... Oh, who am I kidding, of course I do! The surreality of many of the pieces, a kind of innocence therein and the lyricality are all things I love in writing of any type, but as a poet his bringing together of voices (see 'Hotel De L'Angleterre'), really evocative images (unfortunately I can't remember the name of the poem he read out that typified this so well!) and well-balanced narrative (see 'Tonight In Kidderminster') really are second to none.
His own story is also very inspiring. Perhaps I shouldn't relay it here, I don't want to get details wrong and fall foul of another libel suit... But yeah, he really has the hunger, the wit, the energy and the personality that makes an excellent person as well as a poet, and I hope he enjoys even more success! Let's just say, whenever I go to readings and books are on sale, I'm either too broke or too stingy (not quite the same thing) to get any of the books. When Cliff came to Edge Hill, I bought Frank Freeman's Dancing School (Salt, 2009), thoroughly enjoyed it and even used some of it in a collage poem I did for coursework (my efforts were terrible though!).
Check out his blog at http://cliffyates.wordpress.com/ (where you can find out more about the man, his mission and his work), go to any of his readings if you get the chance and definitely buy some of his collections. I couldn't have summed it all up better than Ian McMillan:
“Cliff Yates is one of my favourite poets, writing in an idiom I’d like to call ‘Skelmersdale Mystic/Domestic’ if he was in a band that band would produce hit singles that would linger in your head for years and if he was a greengrocer his vegetables would always be startling shapes. There’s childhood here, and love, and a way of seeing the world with the wrappers off that is, ultimately, Yatesian”