Special 75th birthday celebration for Chichester poet Barry Smith

May’s Open Mic Poetry at the Jubilee Hall, New Park Centre, Chichester, features a special celebration for organiser Barry Smith’s 75th birthday.

Barry Smith.......
Barry Smith.......

Brendan Cleary, an Irish poet, now resident in Brighton, and Chichester guitarist Linda Kelsall-Barnett will be heading the bill on Wednesday, 25 May, at 7.30pm.

Barry Smith said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Brendan and Linda back to the New Park Centre. Brendan has made his mark on poetry in many ways.

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" I really enjoy his succinct, stylish observations on life, which are characteristically pointed and often humorous while still making serious comments on the way we live our lives. He also shares my enthusiasm for jazz and blues music so was the obvious choice to be the headline poet for my birthday celebration. Brendan will be reading from his latest collection, The Other Place.

“Originally from County Antrim, Brendan Cleary has published many collections from presses such as Bloodaxe, Tall-Lighthouse and Wrecking Ball.

"He has been an abiding presence on the UK poetry scene for over 30 years. His latest collection explores the ghosts of his past and what it means to experience loss, promising to leave the readers dewy-eyed with a deep yearning for more.

“There’s plenty of humour too. His early work deals with his childhood in a region where ‘Despair, like rust, / is contagious’, but life in an England of broken ideals and rampant class prejudice comes in for equally biting treatment in poems such as Newcastle is Benidorm and Rose.

"Honed by his experience as a live performer, his lyrics have a hard-hitting immediacy as he questions his place in the world around him and his affiliation to the culture and traditions of his country of birth. These are not poems for the fainthearted, but they provide insights into the human spirit simply not on offer in the work of less courageous artists.

He launched his poetic career as editor of the punky DIY magazine The Echo Room and went on to publish extensively in journals, anthologies and in single-author collections such as Tears in the Burger Store, White Bread and ITV, The Irish Card and Stranger in the House, Tall Lighthouse recently published Brendan’s Goin’ Down Slow: Selected Poems.

"In more contemporary media, Pighog published Cleary’s The Poet’s Notebook as an exclusive series of updates on its Twitter profile.”

Barry adds: ‘After Brendan’s reading, local poets will get the chance to share the spotlight and read some of their own poems.

"There will also be live music from wonderful classical guitarist Linda Kelsall-Barnett. It all adds up to a stimulating evening’s entertainment.

" It’s a special occasion for me because it brings together some of my favourite performers for my birthday celebration.”

Open Mic Poetry will take place on Wednesday, May 25, at 7.30pm.

The venue will be Jubilee Hall, New Park Centre, Chichester.

For more information, visit the website http://www.chichesterpoetry.simplesite.com