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Looking back at this year's Marsden poetry jam ... and remembering Paul Blackburn

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It was all change for the Write Out Loud poetry jam last month at Marsden Jazz Festival. With our usual venue the Railway Inn unavailable, we decamped to Sass Wellbeing Studio and Coffee House, replacing the busy bustling atmosphere of the Railway for the calm, shoeless environment of a yoga room.

One thing that remained the same was the stunning quality of the poetry, at an event skillfully and humorously compered by Isobel Clarke, pictured here, left, with her sisters Yolande Clough,  Eleanor Nelson, and Catherine Greenlees. Isobel opened with a moving tribute to Paul Blackburn who had played such a big part in previous jazz festival poetry jams. So many of the poets who performed had known Paul.

Sarah L Dixon paid her own tribute and performed a poem inspired by her recent appearance at Morecambe poetry festival. This was followed by other warm tributes and shared memories from an impressive line-up of poets. You can see photos of the jam here.

Summing up the two hours of poems and song Isobel said: “The quality of poetry and performance at this year’s jam was truly outstanding. I have compered at a number of events over the years and rarely do you find one where every performance is top-notch – a fact wryly noted by Steve Mellor’s deliciously mischievous poem about performance poets. Not only were the words good, but many poets had taken the time to learn and perform without paper - incredible feats of memory and poems delivered with confidence and poise.

“Paul Blackburn was deeply missed by all who attended. Tributes to him demonstrated just how influential and supportive he had been to people within the wider poetry world. In particular Paul was remembered for his sense of humour, which was zany and totally unpredictable. In keeping with that, we tried to deliver a show that he would have enjoyed.”

A huge thank you to Isobel, and her talented sisters whose Andrews Sisters-style songs and poems with their mix of humour and raw emotion encapsulated the event, and to all the poets who  reminded us again how powerful and affirming poetry can be. We hope to be back next year at the Railway Inn, so do watch this space …



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