Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tchai Ovna

I was through in Glasgow last night to read at the Tchai Ovna Café. I turned up to find that of the four readers, only I had arrived, and two had definitely called off. But I had met up earlier with Andy Jackson and Sandy Hutchison, both poets who can read without a script, as it turned out, at the drop of a hat. And then Tuhuala (I know I’ve got the spelling wrong), a poet from Zimbabwe, turned up and offered to read impromptu. And then the other guy still on the bill, Alan Trotter, also appeared, so all of a sudden, we had five readers on the bill.

We sat chatting to the very sociable organiser, Nalini, for a while, and drank home-brewed ginger tea and Chai, courtesy of the Tchai Ovna (thanks!), which gave us all a welcome buzz after the Guinness we’d consumed in the Big Blue Bar in Great Western Road earlier. The Tchai Ovna has a laid-back, late-sixties hippie vibe about it – small, comfortable, and atmospheric.

Andy J. started off, reciting three of his poems by heart. It struck me that I could never have done that in similar circumstances and I really should learn a few in case. He read really well too. Then Alan Trotter read some light, humorous short stories. Tuhuala read a few mainly socially-conscious poems. We had a break. Then Sandy H. read a few poems and sang a traditional song – again all of it off by heart (although he did hold a notebook, just in case)! Finally I went on and read some poems before Nalini rounded off the night with three poems of her own.

Here’s my obligatory set-list, seven poems in fifteen minutes:

1. The Clown of Natural Sorrow
2. Girl Playing Sudoku on the 7.15
3. Voices
4. How New York You Are
5. Dated
6. Concentration
7. Scotlands

Another Guinness followed, in the Stravaigans bar in Gibson Street, then the underground train to the town centre, the midnight bus back to Edinburgh, and I arrived home about 1.30am. Not bad, and a very enjoyable evening.


Cailleach said...

Sounds like you had a really great evening. I think knowing some of your work off by heart is a goof thing; I believe that if the poem has a strong enough rhythm one would be able to commit it to memory that bit quicker; also looking at line endings and how they connect could make valuable 'cues' to link one line to the next - if all else fails you can imagine the poem on the page...
Thanks for the heads up on the Guardian Workshop - in all fairness Rob, if you hadn't made it into a challenge I wonder whether the poem would have been written - so thank you very much for making it like that too!

Anonymous said...

I have been known to specialise in the odd goof :-)


Cailleach said...

Ha ha! I did mean good, honest!