Wednesday, 12 November 2008

VI : Music with Poetry

The picture of Wendy Cope, who is one of the rarer and valuable species, the comic poet, was taken at the Ceolfrith in Sunderland (the name is pronounced “keel” not “coal”, being related to ship-building). This flourished in the Arts Centre, Grange Terrace, from 1980, under the leadership of Roger Garfitt, and declined in activity when he left in 1982. The readings shared the evening with musical performances, making well balanced programmes.

Wendy Cope, ‘Ceolfrith’, Sunderland 16/02/1984

This was occasionally done at other readings, though usually as part of the poetical performance: James Simmons, for example, at the Morden Tower. I bought a copy of his record containing “The Ballad of Claudy” and played it to a school assembly, where it caused a sensation.

James Simmons, Morden Tower, 17/12/1970

Chris Torrance played a sort of flute at the Colpitts; I remember that reading well, because after a poem which he had said to be placed in Croydon, I asked him whether it described Duppas Hill, and with some astonishment he said it did.

Chris Torrance (R) with Iain Sinclair, Colpitts 20/05/1977

‘The Wylam Singers’, Coelfrith, 03/02/1981

Tristram Robson, Ceolfrith, 27/01/81

At a reading by Vince Morrison, Ceolfrith 17/03/1981

Only the Coelfrith made music with poetry the regular form, and one of the nights (“The Sweetest Thing”) was a performance of thirties ballads, “The Folks who Live on the Hill”, and “Dinner for One please, James”, poetry indeed.

“The Sweetest Thing”. Dick Bradshaw (L) singing “Dinner for One, please, James”, with Ken Stitt. Ceolfrith 02/02/1982

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