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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007
    My Blakean lunch

    After Patti on Sunday, another wonderful day for Merseyside today, because Michael Horovitz came to town. The Poetry Olympian, restless publisher and event promoter, champion of so many of the best performance poets and beatsters of the past 45 years, and a brilliant pop-Blakean writer himself. So this was not a lecture, it was a stand-up show consisting of storytelling, exchanges with audience members (eg a bloke who'd been at Parry's Bookshop on the day Horovitz brought Ginsberg there), performances of Horovitz reading from some of the many New Departures books he's compiled over the years, and a couple of recordings of Jeff Nuttall's Wake, a celebratory jazz-beat event honouring "the multifarious life and work of Jeff Nuttall, Polymath Extraordinaire, who died in 2004".

    The seats were strewn with flyers advertising Horovitz's various projects, and one of the highlights of this delightful hour was his sharing a little from his most current project - his 400-plus-page update of The Waste Land, which he's been writing all through (and in protest of) the Blair years. He's 74 now and had to stand 'by the river' (ie, at a big window in The Tate's lecture room overlooking the Mersey) to be able to read the print on his books, but Michael Horovitz (who has been a background influence on me since I found a Poetry Olympics lp on a secondhand record shelf in my youth) is as energetic still today as the man he said he accidentally found himself sitting opposite on the train to Lime Street this morning - Tony Benn.

    He had stacked many books across the front of the stage which he hadn't used (preferring to stroll around the room with books and - at one point - a kazoo); so at the end I bought The POP! Anthology from Michael Horovitz and he signed it like a twenty-year-old might: To John and all who PARTY here. Breathtaking, like I bet Blake was in his time.