Walking into the Town Hall I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be one of the older ones here. In fact you could have tripled my age and I still would of been a spring chicken compared to the rest of the audience. It seemed that the entire elderly community of Cheltenham had come out in their hundreds to welcome Andrew Marr and his latest anthology of poems.
I was mainly interested in this talk as I am currently studying Journalism and so Andrew Marr, one of the most well known Journalists seemed like a sensible option. It wasn’t until after I booked my ticket I realised his attendance at the Literature festival would be based around a collection of poems he had been working on over the past year. The anthology he introduced us to was called British history through poetry. It started with Anglo Saxon poetry and created a timeline of poetry through the book finishing with a hearty chunk of modern poems. Many of these were war orientated, he stated that war poetry was by far the best. After that talk, I fully agree. Some of the poems had a progressive angle on sex which was refreshing however some were crude and had the mischievous older listeners in fits of giggles. This is turn gave me reason to laugh.
As he went through poem by poem, speaking a little before and after each one to neatly link his hand picked favourites together, I remembered how much I loved poetry and how underrated it is as an art and as a form of communication. He took me back to when we used to study English in school, and how everyone used to groan when it was poetry week at school and I’d do a secret little dance inside. I always wished to be good at poetry as I have never been good at expressing myself and I found it a little easier to go through the medium of a poem.
I found just being in his presence inspiring as due to his recent stroke he found it difficult to negotiate the bits of paper, but powered through and made continuous jokes of his now incapable left arm, noticeable limp and the trouble he had keeping the microphone wrapped round his ear. Another inspiring quality was his passion for poetry and innate interest in the areas he chose to read about, if this wasn’t clear enough from his enthusiasm for the talk it was definitely proved in the fact he spent a year sifting through his library of 3,000 poetry books. I also look up to him greatly as a journalist, and admire his journalistic skills which shone through via his calming voice, confident aroma and perfect pronunciation.
For me, the highlight of the talk was the section on political satire, he spoke fondly of Jonathan Swift who I had recently studied at English A Level and had enjoyed his subtle mocking and humour woven into the writing. Andrew Marr being a Journalist obviously has an in-depth knowledge and interest in this area. He made one of the most complex areas of poetry seem like a walk in the park.
As an Andrew Marr fan and a poetry reader this combination alongside plenty of humour and relaxed conversation made for an enjoyable evening out.