Last night, amongst the hustle and bustle of London’s Tottenham Court Road and Soho, the launch of Life Lines 2 was held in the tranquil surroundings of The Poets’ Church, St Giles in the Field. Hosted by Todd Swift (whom I had met on the first day of the Cheltenham Literature Festival), the evening consisted of readings by featured poets in this anthology which has been created to raise funds for Oxfam‘s Darfur appeal. Admitting to me before the event started, “I’m very nervous”, Todd hosted the event in his unasuming and witty manner to great success. He needn’t have been worried: this audio anthology is superb, it’s a joy to be able to listen to poets reading their own work and to hear such different timbres of voice in one collection. It’s credit to his position as Oxfam’s Poet in Residence and the evening’s readings were an impressive representation of the work that is featured on the collection.
The readings last night came from a collection of distinct and original poetic voices: Dannie Abse, Sujata Bhatt, Siobhan Campbell, Elaine Feinstein, Atilla the Stockbroker, Wayne Smith and John Hartley Williams. Todd himself read the memory-laden ‘The Man Who Killed Houdini’ from Winter Tennis (a collection that I admire very much), an emotional Elain Feinstein recitied poems from her latest collection explaining the difficulties and joys of marraige to her late husband Arnold (‘Wheelchair’ is featured on Life Lines 2), and Dannie Abse read some of his heartfelt and emphatic poetry: “a liturgy to literature”, my dear friend Ruth noted whilst we were sat in the pews of the beautiful Poets’ Church. This is not to say that it was a sombre and serious event, humour came from Atilla the Stockbroker and from the anthology’s youngest poet, Wayne Smith (who, unlike me, has no shame that he was born in Swindon). I wish every success for the Life Lines anthologies and hope there to be a third; fantastic poetry by original voices for a commendable cause.
Posted by Jen Tomkins