Monday, 4 September 2017

Mort Launching Black Shiver Moss

I was lucky enough late last month to go to Graham Mort's Lancaster launch of Black Shiver Moss. Before I talk about the night itself, I'd like to say that I have recollection of reading a collection or two of Mort's poetry and short stories before. Even though it was a long time ago, the impressions they left behind are still very vivid, and that tells a truth about the quality of his work. It's not 'what I usually go for', though, mainly as it isn't what you'd call 'experimental', and is mainly (I think this is fair to say) focussed on the natural world which, despite evidence to the contrary, is equated in my lazy mind as 'traditional' or 'conventional', which are both uninspiring words to me.

After this fine evening, though, I was reminded about the depth and bittersweetness in his work. There is joy, too, of course, but a man of his astoundingly sharp observation of the world is always going to see the harsh truths and not mince his words, either. Something I've been worrying about in my own writing lately is how (if at all) I manage to capture an image, and then here I am in the presence of someone who is master of that. How does he do it so well? Without trying to be opaque, I'd say 'he just does it'. I don't know whether he'd see himself as fearless (as a writer), or not, but it comes across that he has no qualms about the work of language, and I think my anxieties arise because I feel I need to explain too much, and to be too clever or whatever. So my lazy mind is, in short, wrong.

That's all I want to say on the poetry. I don't think I can add anything by going into which poems were read and what I thought of each one, tho I will use this opportunity to say hi to Winston.

Anyhoo, enough of my my words, here's some of my his words, or, the question and answer section. A lot of the QnA stuff was sort of passe to me. There was the sort of 'why do you break a line here on the page, but read it differently' sort of thing, a trying to pin something down that, as a writer, you instinctively know 'isn't what it's all about'. Not to say we shouldn't think about it, but, you know, to ask the writer directly makes me squirm a bit. He related a story, which he referred back to later, of some Archbishop being asked some question about God's work, and giving an answer... not vague as such, but, y'know, not openly and directly obvious, like 'there's something deeper under the surface'. He's right, though. There is 'something deeper', and as a writer that's enough, if the poetry's good (which his is, without doubt).

The question that was interesting to me, firstly, was concerned writing habit. He revealed with a laugh that he's "fantastically ill-disciplined" which, I must say, should give us all a great bloody deal of hope. He knows when he's got something to work on, tho, and sets about it. Also the old line (not a lie) that writers (well, at least some of them) are 'working all the time' - thinking, mentally drafting, and even just observing and processing what will eventually end up, in whatever form, becoming a piece. I felt I was going to remember more of what he said and give you something decent here, but I haven't... Sorry!

Secondly, someone had asked him about the relationship between what he reads and his work. He said there was no real link between his reading and how he'll draft something, but I found he tickled my fancy when he said that writers should read something completely unrelated to things they are doing, as he feels that it can have positive results (I think he meant in a 'seeing things afresh' sort of way, but then, also, you can come back to the writer's perception, and how something totally different may help you generate new things too). He mentioned in particular something which I can't remember. I think he said it was a Japanese motorcycle manual, or maybe a philosophy of bike production, where there was a moral voice running through these technical elements, which you would expect to be 'objectively voiced'. Hard to explain, but he did it charmingly... And no, I'm sure it wasn't Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I still ain't read. Possibly something from this site?

The other particularly interesting thing was him talking about being in academia, and how reading his students' work is a good way of continually being part of the creative world. That's my dream in many ways, to be an active part of the campus (and beyond) mind, so I sat back and let his words bathe me in the moonlight of possibility.

I'd just like to finish by saying how witty Graham is. Throughout the night he made a few quips and whatnots, and I have to say he reminded me of John Lennon quite a bit. Now, for me, there could hardly be a greater compliment of someone's intelligence than this, and it must be true that this brightness of mind is in his work (though Seamus Heaney is a more oft-quoted example of similarity, in his poetry at least), so do check it out.

Lovely night, lovely man, lovely poetry. #blessed #peace #love #light

No comments:

Post a Comment

Just keep it clean (ish)!