Last night, I was in performance at The Shore Poets monthly poetry 'gig'.
The evening kicked off with Richard Dawson, a singer-songwriter from Northumbria. He was very good – shades of Nick Drake, also a touch of Tom Waits, a touch of Martin Stephenson, a touch of gospel – downbeat, haunting vocals, fine guitar-playing.
Then I did my set – more of that in a minute.
After another few songs by Richard, Andrew Philip did his reading. He read a couple of quite long ones, sparse and meditative - intense, mesmorising stuff, but with a heart. You could hear the line-breaks and see the white space simply by listening. He read mainly new poems. Andy has become the first HappenStance author to sell out his chapbook, and didn’t need to advertise poems from it!
Kate Clanchy had cancelled on Friday evening with an attack of bronchitis, which was disappointing, but her ‘replacement’, Alistair Findlay, who had originally been booked to read sometime next year, was very entertaining. His poems centred around football and John Knox, but managed to talk about everything else that matters in Scotland in the process. He was a witty and engaging performer. It was as much theatre as poetry.
Richard finished off the evening with a few more songs.
My set got a good reaction. People laughed in the right places, and seemed to be concentrating during the serious bits. Nobody appeared to be nodding off. Afterwards, folk told me they’d enjoyed it a lot. But would you care to guess how many copies of The Clown of Natural Sorrow I sold?
And you know, my chapbook costs no more than a pint of beer. So if any of you are feeling in a generous mood, please click on the link to The Clown and buy a copy now. You won’t regret it. Really…
Anyway, here are the titles of the poems I read (not that this will mean much to anyone):
3. Breaking the Hoodoo
4. The Hedge Artist
5. Plaster Cast
6. The Babysitter
7. Beyond the Blue
8. Advice to the Lion-Tamer on becoming a Poetry Critic
9. The Preacher’s Story