Wednesday, 12 November 2008

VII : Anchor Men

This picture show, incompletely, Duncan Brown in the capacity of double-bass player; he was the chief organiser of the Castle Chare Arts centre in Durham, which provided a home for the Colpitts poetry after it left the pub. Castle Chare was an ugly place at the start, but it improved considerably over the years, and was a loss when it had to close in 1987 due to the Church’s demand for a greatly increased rent.

Poems by Adrian Mitchell with (L to R) Duncan Brown, Jon Bennett and Fiona McPherson. Castle Chare, Durham. 20/06/1986

Peter Reading helped to run the Coelfrith. I’ve never heard a chairman quite like him, he seemed to regard the proceedings as a joke, whether (as in the case of Gavin Ewart) jokes were on the agenda or not.

Gavin Ewart reading, with Peter Reading, Coelfrith 03/03/1981.

David Burnett, an accomplished poet who often chairs Colpitts readings, does so in an entirely different manner, tentative, as if too positive a statement would destroy the very miracle that the poet would read at all. This quality of manner is not to be discerned in his poetry.

In this photograph he flanks Mrs. Gascoyne, who is herself her husband’s impresario. She tells the story of how she gave readings to hospital in-patients, and one day read a poem by David Gascoyne, unaware that he was in the audience. He introduced himself at the end, and she brought him out into renewed life and work.

David Burnett, Judy Gascoyne, David Gascoyne, Castle Chare, Durham 19/10/1979

David Burnett with reader Matthew Sweeney, Castle Chare, 14/02/1986

Roger Garfitt is seen in charge at Coelfrith during a poetry reading by D.M.Thomas; this was shortly before Thomas attained fame as a provider of high class sex-books, starting with “The White Hotel”.

D.M. Thomas reading, with Roger Garfitt, Coelfrith, Sunderland 27/01/1981

Michael O’Neill (husband of Posy O'Neill) and David Fuller (husband of Cynthia below) are both directors of the Colpitts enterprise.

Michael O’Neill with Cynthia Fuller at her reading, Castle Chare,

Ric Caddell founded the Colpitts, but dropped out of it by degrees in the 1980’s. Here he is seen reading a sequence dealing with wine labels. There is a degree of ironic detachment or parody in some of his work, and wine labels provide fine material for that, since the ambition of the label bears no obvious relation to the quality of the wine. I can’t imagine anyone being successfully ironic about the label of Chateau d’Yquem.

Ric Caddel, Castle chare 09/03/1984

Christopher Logue, whose reading is being chaired by Ric, was said in a newspaper article I read to have a reputation for rudeness. If so (and one of the penalties of old age is that you have a decreasing belief in the accuracy of newspapers), then I don’t know why; his courtesy to me was outstanding. In repayment for a few snapshots he sent me, by return of post, a hardback copy of his collection “Sweet and Sour”, from which incidentally I learned of Wendy Cope.

Christopher Logue reading, with Ric Caddel, Big Jug, Durham 19/03/1982

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