Friday, March 13, 2009

Launch Report: 'The Opposite of Cabbage' & 'The Ambulance Box'

The launch of The Opposite of Cabbage and The Ambulance Box couldn’t have gone any better. I had considered writing about it yesterday, but had little time or energy after a late night and early rise.

In any case, reports were already up at the SPL blog (great photo too!) and at Colin Will’s Sunny Dunny. This morning, Andrew Philip managed to upload something about it, notes toward a further post, including his setlist and another photo.

All the seats filled rapidly in the Scottish Poetry Library mezzanine where we were reading. In fact, there wasn’t enough standing-room and some people had to sit on the stairs. Apparently, there was initial concern that the mezzanine floor might collapse under the weight of people (seriously), but it was declared safe to go ahead. We were stunned at this as I’d had several call-offs from people who had wanted to be there and I'd wondered if the place was going to be half-empty. So, once again, a thousand thank yous to everyone who made the effort to come along. I noticed that several of Andy’s friends also bought my book, for which I’m also very appreciative.

Andy kicked off this time (I’d done the honours in Glasgow last week) and read a terrific set. His poems are ingenious, way above average fare. Those directly concerning the death of his son, Aidan, after hours of life, are always going to be the ones that have immediate impact, especially on anyone who hasn’t heard them before. But his range is wide. The more indirect poems and the subtle humour, sound, rhythm and language present in his work are every bit as much worth noting. I do hope the book gets the attention it deserves throughout the UK and beyond.

I read straight afterwards. My set-list:

1. The Preacher’s Ear
2. The Deconstruction Industry
3. Advice from the Lion-Tamer to the Poetry Critic
4. Everyone Will Go Crazy
5. Berlusconi and the National Grid
6. Hospital
7. How New York You Are

It was a really enjoyable evening. We signed books afterwards and then some of us, including Andy, members of his and his wife’s family, and Katy Evans-Bush, who had come all the way from London, went to the wonderful Empires, a Turkish café where we ate the most fantastic meze and chatted with Osnam. I’m not sure whether he was waiter, manager or owner – or all three combined – but he was a very nice guy. I’ll be back there for sure!

I finished off the evening over a glass of wine with Katy and got to bed around 1am, but I woke early. Too much excitement buzzing around in my head. The next day consisted of working, seeing Katy off on the train, answering emails and messages, and (especially) trying to stay awake.

Tonight I’m going through to Glasgow to see poets Jen Hadfield, Christie Williamson, and Alan Jamieson, and two musicians, Chris Stout and Catriona McKay, at a Shetland Evening - 7.30pm, the Mitchell Theatre. Should be really good.


Liz said...

Sounds like a dream-launch, Rob. The threat of floor collapse must surely be one of the best signs of a great reading ...: )
Congrats again.

BarbaraS said...

I'd agree with Liz - a Good Sign - my congrats added to the many, hope you get some time to absorb it all :)

apprentice said...

Sounds a great night Rob. I look forward to Alan dropping off my copy.

Ms Baroque said...

Hey, I was so happy to come along. It was indeed a wonderful reading and a wonderful event. And your set was just as good as Andy's! :)

Hope tonight is another cracker.

Andrew Shields said...

I wish I could have been there to celebrate with you, Rob!

Andrew Philip said...

Yours was a great set, Rob.

My full report of the night is now here:

William Shaw said...

Tenuous perhaps, but there's an interview with Jen Hadfield here and on the RSA Arts & Ecology blog.