Wednesday, May 28, 2008

HappenStance Poets At the Troubadour, London

It’s hard to know exactly what to say about the HappenStance reading in London’s Troubadour Café on Monday evening. It's an atmospheric, intimate venue with good acoustics. I imagine it must get hot if it's warm outside, but on Monday the weather was awful - cold, windy and near constant rain, and I'd left Edinburgh without a cloud in the sky (that's all changed now!). There was a very good audience, who seemed happy with what they heard and bought plenty of pamphlets.

There’s no definite ‘house style’ about HappenStance. That could either be a strength or a weakness depending on how you look at it. I’d like to think of it as a strength. I suspect that most people would have preferred some poets over others on Monday, but different people would have preferred different poets, according to taste. There were 9 readings each of 8-10 minutes (with a break halfway through), so there wasn’t time for anyone to bore the crowd senseless! I really enjoyed the evening. I met plenty of people, had a good time and my own reading was fine. For those who (like me) like reading setlists, my set was:

1. While the Moonies are Taking Over Uruguay
2. Concentration
3. A Night in the Circus
4. Prelude
5. Scotlands

Only five poems, less than anyone else I think, but my poems tend to go on a bit and I chat between poems too.

Helena Nelson introduced each of us by comparing us to a wine. I can't remember what I was but, at the end, Anne-Marie Fyfe (organiser of these events) said that Helena was obviously 14 percent proof. That's certainly true!

Earlier in the day I met up with Ms Baroque and sampled cappuccino and biscuits in her local coffee house (very nice place). We then made out way to the Troubadour where we met up with the HappenStance crew and I had a veggie burger with various folk from Magma magazine.

The gig itself flew past, so I must have been enjoying myself. Andy Philip (who read very well from his *new* HappenStance ‘sampler’) had to leave a little early to catch his train home. I saw Helena Nelson and Eleanor Livingstone rushing off for a coach at the end of the evening. Tom Duddy, Greg and Karen Leadbetter, Ms Baroque, myself, and RCL all found a pub nearby. I finally got to sleep on the Baroque fold-down sofa at around 2.30am and was woken up by a tuneful dawn chorus. Luckily the coffee shop was open for business that morning again as there is no coffee in the Baroque Mansion. They do a great almond croissant too – highly recommended.

On the train down I was reading Birgit Pegeen Kelly’s Poems: Song and The Orchard, recently published by Carcanet, and on the way home I read about half of Michael Hofmann’s Selected Poems (Faber). Both, in very different ways, are extraordinary books. At least, I think so, so far.

I was knackered yesterday and still haven’t really recovered today, but it was a great trip. Lots of fun. Anne-Marie Fyfe – when can we come back?!


Ms Baroque said...

Rob, next time you make your way to the Smoke I promise to have made my way to the supermarket!

It was a fab evening. I loved meeting new people, discovering friends I didn't even know we had in common, and running into other old friends. The poetry was great, too. And my hangover (at least half of which was from lack of sleep, I'm a tender flower that way) is much better now.

Cailleach said...

Sounds like you'd a good gig in London, Rob. Now you know how I felt, coming back from Edinburgh ;)
Taking in all that information and using me poetry for over 24 hours takes it out of me, anyway!

Anonymous said...

Good to see you again Rob and to witness the lucky bag of p(o)ets that is the HappenStance experience.

The word verification thing is asking me to type in 'Hrafzua' - sounds like a Lebanese poet... as in 'have you read any Hrafzua, I adore his ghazals?'


Anonymous said...

Yes, I had a great time too. Though we did indeed have to dash off; nail biting taxi ride across more of London than I realised to Victoria Coach Station - sleeper train no good, all awry because it was a bank holiday - arriving just (just!) in time. Then an uncomfortable and rather surreal journey back up to Scotland in a squash of sleeping strangers, dozing and half hypnotised by the red eye of the digital clock counting down the hours. But I got to watch the sunrise as I never have before.


Matt Merritt said...

Sounds like a great night, Rob, and I'm sorry I missed it. Inevitable airport delays, sadly.
I got 'dutexoll' on the word verification - it's a hangover cure, isn't it?