Just as the Lichfield Literary Festival is poised to arrive the city from October 8 to 12, local poet Phillip Knight has sneakily stolen a march on the big guns by announcing the launch of a new local writers group in the very heart of Lichfield.
Set to meet in the George IV, the popular city centre pub which over the last year has become the unofficial home of Lichfield’s avant-garde artistic community, Phillip hopes the group will attract both experienced writers and first timers alike.
This ex-Manchester film student, author of four books of poetry himself, tells me he doesn’t understand the “rules” of poetry but his big breakthrough was via a favourite poem, The Last Cigarette, which he made into a film.
“When I started writing I realised I’d never read as much as I should have,” he says. “But for me this is part of the reason I want to create a poetry scene which is a place where no one can say to me ‘this is what you should read’.”
This refreshing attitude stems from the unexpected nature of the outpouring of Phillip’s first work.
“I never intended to write poetry,” he tells me. “It just came out. At first I was very influenced by music – but where songs were concerned, I wrote the verses, not the choruses.
“I’d sit in and read CD sleeve notes and lyrics, especially the Velvet Underground, Bowie, and of course, Dylan. I just couldn’t read enough lyrics at the start. Then I moved onto more modern stuff like The Verve, and coupled this with more personal things that came out in words, like a very personal diary.”
Where did the idea for the new group come from, I wonder?
“I’m wanting to get back into writing and the best way seems to be to surround myself with creative people,” he explains simply.
“I’m just putting out a call to others like myself who want to write. I’ve got no pre-conceived ideas of where it’s going – but I’m just prepared to go with the energy flow let loose by like-minded folk getting together to talk and write.
“I want to take people who don’t look on themselves as writers,” he adds after a pause. “And give them a room to share with other writers so they can grow in confidence and build themselves up.
“After all, I’ll be on the journey with them.”
The first meeting of the new group will take place at 7.30pm on September 22 at the George IV.