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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Tuesday 02 May 2006

Colpitts Poetry

Both Ken Edwards, publisher behind Reality Street Editions, and Pierre Joris have brought to my attention to a very sad state of affairs: Arts Council England North East has withdrawn all funding from Colpitts Poetry - with immediate effect.

Colpitts boasts an unbroken tradition going back to 1975 and has claims to be considered one of the most important live-reading venues in the UK. This blow has come entirely without warning just as we were preparing to celebrate happily the culmination of our thirtieth-anniversary year, and obviously we feel galled that the tree, instead of being garlanded, now has the axe swinging around its base ready to bring thirty years crashing to the ground. But as poets who've read there have attested, it is a living history and not some abstract "heritage" that powers Colpitts as a vital space in which poets perform, promote and sell their work, network, collaborate and test their ideas in the company of a receptive and alive audience. Colpitts is its poets and its audience as much as its venue and its organisers, and this decision if allowed to stand will hit hard, by no means just locally. But it will also hit the region hard if Durham loses its place on the poetry map -- we're not exactly over-blessed with arts provision and funding in the area between Tyne & Wear and the Tees

[P]oets -- average income £7K per annum! -- have long since sold most of their books at readings rather than in bookshops, yet now they are to be further denied this opportunity in the North-East, denied the income that comes from giving readings, and denied audiences that are their lifeblood -- not just in an economic sense but in the sense that it's through communication and creative exchange with an audience that poets are able to try and strengthen their work, to the enrichment of both parties.

The Colpitts committee (Jackie Litherland, Michael Standen, Jo Colley, Patty O'Boyle, Ian Horn and Michael Ayton) have decided to fight this decision and have asked that word be spread. For more information, email To oppose the decision please email:

Please copy into your email (Gary is Head of Literature at London HQ).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
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Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
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