The 100 Poets Gathering featured, in fact, 103 poets, each reading a single poem. It lasted 5½ hours. I missed about half of it as my own event overrun this one, but I was impressed that so many poets stuck around through most, or even all, of the day. There were many highlights. I loved David Kinloch’s hilarious (anti-) sestina, Mike Stocks’s poignant Two Boys, and Jim Carruth’s desperate search for a plate when Alastair Reid set his poem alight and then realised he couldn’t drop a fire hazard on a bar floor.
But it was a great event full of good poetry, some funny and some serious, and Jim Carruth’s vision and organisation that made it happen should be commended.
My event went well. The venue wasn’t full, but felt reasonably well populated. It was cosy and atmospheric. I kicked off. I read 9 poems, 5 from The Clown of Natural Sorrow and 4 others. The titles were (for those who like pointless lists):
In the Last Few Seconds
A.M.F. Davighi (translation)
While the Moonies are Taking Over Uruguay
People laughed in the right places and gave me a positive reaction, although I didn’t sell many copies of the chapbook. It’s hard to sell. Quite a few people told me they’d enjoyed the reading. But they didn’t buy the book…
Lyn Moir came next. Her poems were very well crafted – again someone who manages to convey humour and seriousness at the same time. She expressed her astonishment that some people thought sex was over by the time one reached a certain age, and some of her poems proved that it wasn’t.
Diana Hendry began with renditions of psalms she’d translated from some Scots versions. She was trying to convey the same power she’d found in them. They were pretty good, as were her poems in reaction to them – subtle and thought-provoking. Then she moved on to other poems, including one memorably structured in twenty parts – one for each length completed at the swimming baths.
So a good event.
This is my final report from StAnza. Book your tickets to St Andrews for March 2008!