Wednesday, March 21, 2007

StAnza 3 - Non-Poetry-Reading Highlights (Part 1)

Roy Fisher and Jill Turnbull on Gael Turnbull – GT’s wife, Jill, and long-term friend, RF, demonstrated poems driven by motors on spinning ceiling-high metal cylinders, random poems based on shuffled packs of cards, beautifully carved wooden books in which fragments could be wheeled around to create poems. GT’s creations often had whimsical results but there could be no denying the skill and love that went into creating them. The stories behind them were fascinating.

George Szirtes’s StAnza Lecture – this is now online and is bound to attract a lot of discussion over the next while. I am still trying to digest it.

The Bar – there were few tables at the StAnza section of the bar/restaurant and the area was a constant milling about of poets, festival staff, editors, friends and families. I guess this could get tiresome if you were ‘doing festivals’ all the time. You’d probably end up wanting peace and quiet more than anything. But I really enjoyed the social side of things. I expect it’s one reason why participants in shows like the X Factor and American Idol want to stay in the competition – they become part of a group with similar interests, many of the people they meet are fascinating, they are treated very well, people speak to them with the assumption they have real talent. Of course the X Factor and American Idol offer a six-figure prize, but I doubt that’s the main sense of loss when it all ends and people go home empty handed. It’s the buzz that goes missing.

Open Mic Session at the Bunker Bar, Golf Hotel – a group of us got lost, including stand-up comedian/poet, Owen O’Neill. There were lots of bunker bars in St Andrews and everything in the area seemed to be called Golf-something. Eventually we found the right place and wandered in late. O’Neill had the ability to tell this not-particularly-funny story at the mic and have everyone laughing their heads off. He needed only to open his mouth and people would laugh. A great ability.

I was asked later whether we had looked at the map, as the venue was clearly marked. Map? Poets don’t use maps. Poets get lost.

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