Festival is new beacon for the arts in Hastings


WRITER Iain Sinclair is said to have visited the Beacon at Hastings the morning after he appeared there last Friday just to make sure he had not dreamed the venue into existence.

Sinclair was there to co-host the opening night of the Black Huts poetry and arts festival.

It is not hard to see why her returned to check. The Beacon, hidden away in a fold of the West Hill, is a beautiful old house that serves as inspiration and studio space to a colony of artists.

With real fires blazing and hot mulled wine to ward off a wet and windy November night, the Beacon was as much a part of this Festival as the poets and film-makers themselves

The evening opened with a homage to the late American poet Ed Dorn with live readings and rare footage of Dorn reading his own work. The readers brought to life his rhythmic poetry, particularly in sections of his long work Gunslinger with its visceral street speech and dust bowl imagery. Dorn’s words really do have the impact of bullets fired from the hip.

The second part of the evening was given over to a rare screening of Asylum, written by Chris Petit and Iain Sinclair and introduced by them.

Asylum, visually kinetic and as much paradox as narrative, plots an often frenetic journey through exile, memory and madness. It’s protagonists attempt to address cultural amnesia by tracking down some of the 20th century’s literary illuminati such as Michael Moorcock, James Sallis and Ed Dorn.

Created by two writers, it crosses the ever diminishing wasteland between images and the written word.

In all then an auspicious start to what promises to be a strong annual festival.