Wednesday, 22 February 2012

inscriptions and rants

Bridget Penney and Ulli Freer read to a good crowd at the Lamb last night. Penney began with a piece of photographically illustrated psychogeography working around graffiti and inscriptions on an old church site. Her second bracket was a kind of masque edited cinematically. Ulli Freer was hard to photograph, shifting ground like a prizefighter as he read from a long work with sections each titled ‘recovery’. His poems are dense but he delivers them with a momentum that carries the listener along.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Friday, 17 February 2012

Mt Pleasant and the Strand

Tuesday night’s readings presented a dilemma. Tim Allen, Robert Hampson and Jeremy Reed were on at Swedenborg Hall, but I went to The Apple Tree to hear Alan Halsey and Becky Cremin in the Crossing the Line series. Halsey read from his new book from Veer, Even if only out of. Both poets are fine performers, both are deconstructors and rebuilders of existing texts, though Cremin works at the level of the syllable and the isolated sound.

Last night I read briefly with several others at a gathering in memory of Peter Porter at Australia House.  This featured a strange assemblage of readers who may not in other circumstances have gathered together, featuring among others Alan Brownjohn, Wendy Cope, John Kinsella, Sean O’Brien, Don Paterson and Anthony Thwaite, the whole MCd by Adrian Caesar with music by Kwêsi Erdman and Morgan Pearse. 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Saturday, 11 February 2012

into the zone

On Thursday night the Veg Box Café in Canterbury held the first of the Zone series of readings featuring Kelvin Corcoran (vox) and Sam Bailey (piano). There was a good crowd for this event. The venue worked well and there was a clublike sense of camaraderie (we all felt proud to have located the secret fire-escape entrance). Sam Bailey started things off in style with some Messiaen-like piano improvisations, then Kelvin read from recent work, notably Words Through a Hole Where Once There Was a Chimpanzee’s Face. The acoustics were fine in the café interior with only the odd howl from alcoholically challenged East Kent youth coming up from the lane below. It’s a good thing that poetry needn’t always necessitate a trip to London.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

two reissues

Ken Bolton’s first book, Four Poems, has just been reissued by Little Esther. When it first appeared with Sea Cruise Books in 1977 it was A4 sized with a hand coloured cover. Right from the beginning Ken wasn’t about to ‘compete’ with the Sons of Rimbaud who were mostly aiming at tomes that seemed more impressive as both physical objects and intellectual exercises.  It is unusually coherent for a first volume as the re-release shows us well, but at the time it mightn’t have disturbed the macho contingent gathered around New Poetry all that much, even as they grasped themselves at the livre composée. The title refers to Ashbery’s Three Poems though the work itself sees Ashbery through the eyes of the second generation New Yorkers. There’s a process, an argument, going on here however that we now recognise as Bolton’s alone.
Pressed Wafer has reissued Ric Caddel’s 1990 volume Uncertain Time. Here is English work that ought to be of interest to the American audience. Caddel had visited the States in the 80s, reading in Cambridge and travelling on to Blackhawk Island in Wisconsin to see Lorine Niedecker’s cottage. You can see the attraction her poems would have held for him in the work collected here. Aaron Tieger’s superb introduction will situate the poet for those new to his work. The poems are spare and musical with a fine wit. I had the pleasure of meeting Ric at home in Durham in 1992. He drove me to the Roman Wall and gave me copies of many of his own Pig Press productions. A collected edition of his work would be a very welcome event.

Friday, 3 February 2012

2 Suffolk Street

The first Shearsman reading for 2012 took place on Notre Dame's London campus. Peter Robinson and Tony Lopez read from their new books, The Returning Sky and Only More So (additionally Lopez' False Memory, formerly published by Salt appeared in a new edition).