Friday, June 23, 2006

You can call me Al...

To see Al Alvarez, who, I'm ashamed to admit, I knew little about in advance of sitting 12ft away. He was a funny old stick, has lived a full life and spoke for a good 40 minutes on finding your voice as a writer, before he invited questions from the audience. It was interesting, mildly amusing, the looped mic/amp system kept breaking down. This poet-cum-poker player was very clued up, though lost his thread a bit (an addled style that added to the evening) and was a tad bashful about his own writing (yet not averse to reading a couple of his own ditties). Related to his life as a freelance ("that's when things start to get tricky") and listened in awe when he got round to talking of his friendship with Sylvia Plath (she relied on his feedback when Mr Hughes buggered off) and chuckled when he told us of his short spell as an Oxford don ("I dreamed of being an Oxford don and I was, for a year. Fucking hated it.") A healthy crowd, too, most of them looking like poets or poker players or both themselves. Indeed, I'm sure when the bulk of us buggered off the doors were locked and a high rollin' game started up. Al wrote a nice piece about the film Sylvia for the Observer, here.

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