The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: is randomly decrepid and is neo-bankrupt: is so analogue it's anal.
Coincidentally simultaneous with the Oxford Literary Festival™ (sponsored this year by The Financial Times and well known philanthropists HSBC), the Not The Oxford Literary Festival™ (see tailpiece for our very own Three-for-two Sponsorship Appeal) runs for its fifth year after a hiatus of several years.
A week of events to celebrate the normality rather than hyperbole of the literary world, with its very own hospitality tent (see above):-
1st April, Friday, 7:45pm JAZZ
Violinist Christian Garrick, at home in a South Bank recital hall performing with great friend Nigel Kennedy, or a seedy jazz club, or even a seedy bookstore, with David Gordon who is a regular member of Chris’s quartet, a jazz vampire by night and a leading classical harpsichordist by day. The evening includes some jazz-inspired poetry by Peter J. King. This evening is a cracking start from an improvised world where there is no such thing as a wrong note, always fun to be had. [£10 entry]
2nd April, Saturday, 7:30pm POETRY
John Hegley & George Chopping, two megastars of the poetry world who don’t do footnotes or fustiness but who do do emotion, passion, meaning, fulfillment, cadence and brilliance. Hegley is noted for his exploration of such diverse topics as dog hair, potatoes, handkerchieves and the misery of human existence. Eleanor Moreton joins on fiddle, and local superhero Chopping reads some new poetry. [£8 entry]
3rd April, Sunday, 7:00pm STORYTELLING REPUBLIC
Robert Burns is feted the world over. Of non-religious figures, only Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus worldwide boast more busts, and he is more important to our GDP than Shakespeare or Elgar; the Germans revere him and claim him as their own; remarkably he is more popular in Russia than in Scotland. Jeremy Paxman dismissed Burns as “no more than a king of sentimental doggerel,” and to many he is know only for his odes to the haggis and talking fondly of field mice. But Burns was the Scottish Cecil Sharp, collecting Scottish folk song and sentiment, but then using it as the springboard for his own work, which ranged from the vulgar to ethereal.
Magnus Macfarlane is the most flamboyant and respected of the Oxford City tour guides, TripAdvisor seemingly kept afloat by his praise. This evening Magnus, dressed in kilt and sporting a sporran, will intersperse some of Burns’ poetry in its Lowland Scot vernacular with his retelling and respectful Anglicizing of Burns’ stories. Burns to some wrote doggerel, to others he wrote song lyrics or fine poetry. But above all Burns was a storyteller, and that non-footnoted aspect of his work is so often neglected. [£8/£6 entry]
4th April, Monday, 7:30pm ISM SCHISM Oxford poets and citizens of the Age of Isms, Ceri Lloyd and Dan Holloway, bring together and eclectic mix of movements and their champions, who will present exemplars and make the case for their relevance today in a Surrealist variation on the traditional balloon game. With a unique open mic offering you five minutes to make the case for a movement of your choice or your making!
Futurism, Dada, Abstract Expressionism, S.C.U.M., Vorticism, Situationism, Modernism itself. The 20th century was the century of the Movement, groups of artists, musicians, performers, photographers and writers united behind a common set of principles which acted as the black leather boots in which they marched towards a destiny that would change art and, through it, the world. In the past quarter of a century that has dried to a trickle (aside from Stuckism, there is pretty much only Brutalism and Visceral Realism – and that’s made up) . Sure, this is the age of the mission statement – the forever champion of innovation, Porter Anderson, last year ran a fabulous series of such 5 minute manifestos on Futurebook. It’s even the age of things calling themselves manifestos. But the manifestos we have now are helpful, suggestive, top tips and inspirational quips. Why is that? Is it postmodernism? Have we moved beyond Hegelian politicizing of culture towards a more exploratory identity politics? Is there a place in today’s literary (or wider cultural) world for the manifesto that lays down principles and summons artists to gather round and bring them to life?
Featuring a musical interlude in which violist ANN HOLLOWAY plays music by the German Expressionist composer Paul Hindemith. [£3 entry]
5th April, Tuesday, 6:00pm TALK
Simon Image: Three Angles on Greece, or a brief look at how three modern writers have presented the country in novel form: The Third Wedding, by Kostas Taktsis (1963), The Greeks have a Word for It, by Barry Unsworth (1967), The Man on the Rock, by Francis King (1957). Each book appears within a ten-year period, and each book projects what might be called a pessimistic view: a vision informed by certain bitterness, an acerbic quality, as if lemons had been squeezed into the brew. One is a third person narrative, somewhat traditional in its technique, written towards the beginning of a distinguished career; another gives us a young man’s first person perspective on himself and the travails of his country in the Greek Civil War and its aftermath; the third creates perhaps one of the most believable and affecting female characters in modern fiction, as she takes us through more than twenty years of Greece’s history, lived, suffered, witnessed in an intensely emotional way. [£2 entry]
6th April, Wednesday, 7:00pm AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Peter Meinhertzhagen with Tasha Kavanagh, author of Things We Have in Common (Sue Townsend meets Zoe Heller) an Oxford Writers’ Circle event. [£5 entry]
7th April, Thursday, 7:00pm HELLO, DARKNESS a celebration of women’s voices in dark fiction with Rosemary A. Johns, Nico Reznick, and World Fantasy Award winner Helen Marshall. Readings and a Q&A will be followed by a full screening of the Soska Sisters’ cult classic film, American Mary, shown with permissions. [£5 entry]
8th April, Friday, 8:00pm PUNK POETRY
Urban guerilla poet Steve Micalef (still more likely to be featured on a toilet seat than in Poetry Review), founding editor of Sniffin’ Glue who sold out to become poet in residence for Sky TV. Forty years since the first issue of the magazine. [£5 entry]
9th April, Saturday, 7:45pm BALKAN FOLK MUSIC & POETRY
Giles Lewin (violin) & Peter Watson (accordion) East European flavours from Transylvania, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and beyond. With Romanian poetry interspersed. [£8 entry]
10th April, Sunday, 7:00pm WAS IST DADA?
Using slogans and cut out sentences from the Dada manifesto, we learn how to create a Dada poem, with music from the Oxford Improvisors. The evening will conclude at 8:00pm (after the event) with a free showing of the documentary film The Zurich Chronicle (1996), Zurich 100 years from Tristan Tzara’s birth and 80 years from the birth of the dadaism … A documentary on what has remained alive from this movement to which three people born in Romania had a major contribution: Marcel Iancu, Arthur Segal and mostly Tristan Tzara. The film is shown courtesy of Fundatia Arte Vizuale, and our thanks to Vivi Dragan Vasile and Alexandru Solomon. [£3 entry]
The Festival actively encourages (as in previous years) a philosophy of declining publisher’s largesse (coz none available), hubristic hype and highfalutin hyperbole (coz it ain’t never true), street fist fighting (coz one of the few poetry bare knuckle fisticuffs did take place during the 2011 Festival, a reenactment is to be staged this year), and parenthesis paradiddling ( ).
Please note: Not The Oxford Literary Festival is actively seeking a sponsorship partner so that its credibility can be vouchsafed. If you know of any recently elected political party leaders performing volte-face acts of denial, or of a national intelligence agency meddling, or of any inept government seeking to wreck lives, undo decades of the welfare state, spin the middle classes into subjugated misery with the full and tacit support of a low brow Facebook fed lead-a-donkey-to-the-water
Based on an idea by Dan Holloway, the original curator and eminence gristle of the Festival, composed on the back of an envelope one afternoon in the Albion Beatnik.
(Most) contributors are not harmed in the making of this festival and are paid a fee, aka a pittance.