Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tchai Ovna and Secondhand Treasures

I read last night at the southside Tchai Ovna Café in Glasgow. It had some great ginger tea and some fine hippyish décor. There were too many readers, both for the size of the venue (tiny) and for anyone’s concentration span and the standard of work/reading varied from good to bad the way these kind of evenings always do. I read four poems, and here’s the setlist:

1. Glory Box
2. Breaking the Hoodoo
3. Moving On
4. untitled hebdomad

Anyone who knows my recent work will know that’s not exactly the most commercial, crowd-pleasing set I could have read, but at least I didn’t overstay my welcome…

You can also read Andrew Philip’s report on the event.

Earlier in the day, I went to the annual Christian Aid booksale in Edinburgh, the largest second-hand booksale in Europe. It was the last day and I thought there would be nothing much left, but I was in for a surprise, especially as the prices had been halved to shift stock before closing time. I picked up a beautiful hardback of a 1984 anthology, ‘Fifty Years of American Poetry’, an anniversary volume for the Academy of American Poets – Moore, Merrill, Ashbery, Wilbur, Simic etc and loads of people I’d never heard of. Looks really good. I’ve had real luck in the last week with American poetry as, only a few days before, I’d picked up a hardback copy of Wallace Stevens’s ‘Opus Posthumous’ for only £4. The original price (when the edition was published 20 years ago) was £27.50. Worth its weight in gold.

Anyway, at the Christian Aid sale, I also picked up:

David Kennedy – The Devil’s Bookshop
Tony Lopez – Covers
Maggie Nelson – The Latest Winter
John Hartley Williams – The Ship
John Wilkinson – The Lyric Touch
Alexander Hutchison – Deep-Tap Tree
Jen Hadfield – Nigh-No-Place
Luke Kennard – The Harbour Beyond the Movie (2 copies)

I already have those last two so I gave a copy of each to Andy Philip and the latter to Andy Jackson. For 50p a time, it seemed better to buy them and give them to people who will read them than see the books pulped and recycled, or whatever happens.

Anyway, having bought 6 books published by Salt (worth about £72) for about £5, I plan to buy a book or two for the real price direct from Salt. The only way to support the publishing of good poetry is to buy books, so I’d recommend spending some cash at Salt, bluechrome, Shearsman, Arrowhead or one of the other enterprising poetry presses around at the moment, including pamphlet publishers such as tall-lighthouse, Perdika, or (of course) HappenStance. You’ll probably get a good book, the author will be happy, and you’ll put food on the editor’s table. Everyone wins.

The only problem is deciding which books to buy. I've read Salt books by Jane Holland, Tom Pow, Luke Kennard, Steven Waling, Alexander Hutchison, Tobias Hill, Tamar Yoseloff, Peter Abbs, Simon Barraclough and Peter Jaeger. Recommendations welcome.


Anonymous said...

I think I was most moved by the trumpeting sphincters in the cafe toilet.


Rob said...

Well, yes, they were arresting.

Some of the readings were OK. My main gripe with the others was that I often couldn't tell whether they were reading poems or short stories.

Anonymous said...

Surely the most bizarre thing was the chap reading extracts from his spy-thriller screenplay .. reading the hero parts in a deadpan dull mumble (*including* the scene directions, though it was difficult to tell where those ended and where the cardboard dialogue began) .. with the breathy female love-interest part taken on by an older woman who seemed to be his mother!

What a double-act: he was a personality vacuum, and she sounded a bit desperate to make him a nice cup of tea with a biscuit .. while
the two 'characters' were running across rooftops to escape some Russians or something!

It was really a workshop-thing rather than a public reading piece.

Quite extraordinary.


Rob said...

It was extraordinary. It was more entertaining than some of the others! I thought some of the pieces were OK, maybe after you'd left. You missed the worst piece, although I better not say what I felt that was...

Ms Baroque said...

Katia Kapovich, Philip Nikolayev, Richard Burns, EA Markham, Valeria Melchioretto, Isobel Dixon...

I have that Wilkinson - lots of fun! Very invogorating and interesting. I blogged on one paragraph I took huge issue with, when the book came out last summer, but the yearned-for controversy never really materialised.

I like the book-buying-month idea. My better goal woudl be o try and STOP buying books, and read some of the ones I've just been buying, but I'll blog it anyway.

Do you still have a spare Kennard? I'll swap it for something when you come down next week, if you do.

Ms Baroque said...

Of course I meant inVIGorating! Invogorating sounds rather the opposite...