Enlightening interview with Mike West

The Camden School of Enlightenment will be holding a workshop  with Mike West on Saturday 4th August  – 1.45pm – 2.45pm.  Mike West gives us some background on the group and event.  Check the poetry room tab for more information.

What is the Camden School of Enlightenment?

It’s a spoken word variety show that respects wisdom, inquiry and originality. The brief is “Tell us something we didn’t know, or show us something in a different way”. People share their passions in lecture, story, poem or somg. We try to give our performers the time and scope to produce something special, rather than having them trot out their greatest hits.


What will the School be discussing at the Fair?

A man who has been a paparazzo, actor and knife-thrower will tell us one of his life stories. Jon and/or Kirsty from Fuselit, the most painstakingly beautiful poetry magazine in town, have a knack for finding the mystical in the demotic and will analyse parallels between poetry and computer games. In our regular Dead Poet Society spot I’ll be reclaiming Henry Newbolt, a poet with a reputation as a po-faced imperialist even amongst other Edwardians, but who rewards deeper digging. Abi Palmer did a fantastically interactive mini-lecture for us last year based on amazon.com customer reviews. She’s still obsessed with them and has got a lot more to say about them, and I’m all for it.

You’re also a poet, with monogrammed cuffs.  Can you give us a few lines?

I only have those because my initials have rotational symmetry and it would be a crime to waste it. But, off-the-cuff, as it were,

            There was a young man named Mike West

            With a monogram sewn on his vest:

            a familial seal

            which served to conceal

            the tattoo of his mum on his chest.

 Is The European Enlightenment something close to your heart?

Yes, that is the Enlightenment I had in mind: though a lot of our Twitter followers were obviously looking for enlightenment in a bodhisattva sense, and they’re welcome too. I see 2010s Camden populated by some amazingly creative people and fine freethinkers, somewhere between the madman and the master craftsman; the genius and the gobshite; a bit like 5th century Athens, 14th century Florence, or the opening lines of “Howl”.

See you soon, and God bless

Thanks. Like our Californian Twitter followers, we gratefully accept blessings from all interested deities.


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