Andrew Forster at Kendal Poetry Festival
Ticket sales are going very well, and very fast! Quite a few events have sold out – the Friday night Main Reading with Helen Mort and Mir Mahfuz Ali, the Saturday Afternoon Main Reading with Clare Shaw and Hilda Sheehan and there are no tickets for the Poetry Business workshop with Peter and Ann Sansom or for the workshop with Hilda Sheehan. We currently have a few tickets left for the Saturday night reading with Peter and Ann Sansom and only 3 tickets left for our final reading of the festival with Greta Stoddart and Fiona Sampson.
It it is likely that there will be very few tickets available on the door. We would strongly advise buying tickets beforehand if possible. Ticket sales from The Brewery will finish at 5pm on Thursday 23rd, so please buy your tickets before then! After this time, you will have to take your chance and queue up at the door for each event, to see if there are any returns.
We’re really excited to have a poem from Andrew Forster to share with you today. Andrew is appearing at the festival alongside Jane Routh on the 24th June at 5pm. Andrew and Jane will be discussing the place of nature poetry in a time of environmental disruption, which seems particularly apt after the floods that Kendal has suffered recently. We’ve had to move this event to a larger room, but there are still only ten tickets left – so if you’re going to come, and haven’t booked your tickets yet, please do so soon! You can buy tickets for this event here: https://www.breweryarts.co.uk/lakes-tickets/listing/KPF-NATURE-POETRY-IN-A-TIME-OF-CRISIS-JANE-ROUTH-ANDREW-FORSTER
We asked Andrew to choose a poem to feature, and to send us through some thoughts on the poem. Andrew said
This poem is one of my first attempts to write a poem based on a political idea. I wrote it at the time of the debates that led to the banning of fox hunting, when the Countryside Alliance was emerging as a strong voice. Sadly it still seems to be relevant with repeated calls for the repeal of the ban, and foxes often getting caught up in drag-hunting. I wasn’t sure how to tackle the subject poetically. Straightforward polemic can often feel flat, or seem like it’s preaching to the converted. My answer was to fall back on personal experience. A Sunday afternoon drive around the Scottish Borders gave me this poem.
The following poem is from Andrew’s second book Territory, which was published by Flambard in 2010. Andrew’s books will be available to buy during the festival.
I steer around them. Too many
to be an accident: messes of russet feathers
gummed to the tarmac with blood
as though a car or truck had mown
into a cluster of them. Perhaps
there were several drivers, keeping score,
swerving to pick off stragglers
who flitted desperately, trying
to get back to where they came from.
Around a bend the road is clear
until I’m halted by a policeman’s hand
warning me of the huntsmen,
dismounted, milling in the quiet road.
One, in red tunic, wielding a horn,
whispers to the officer who waves me on.
Beyond, horses roped to gateposts
stamp and whinny, while a line
of tweed-jacketed men on the verge
laugh and jostle each other,
their urine arching into the grass,
glittering briefly in the weak light.
Thanks to Andrew for letting us publish this wonderful poem here.