I enjoyed the Open Mic and thought having it in the Byre Theatre Bar was a good move. There was a much bigger crowd than normal and a huge range of poets took part. Of course, at all open mics there are poems which appeal and poems which don’t, but everyone gets a round of applause and the atmosphere is upbeat. No one tried to read a twenty-five minute eulogy in rhyming couplets to a long dead grandfather either. People kept to time and listened when others were reading. And Jim Carruth was, as ever, an excellent MC.
I ran into loads of people at StAnza and don’t intend to list them, but it was great to see people I don’t see all that often.
I missed several events I would like to have attended on account of not being able to turn up until the Friday evening: the tall-lighthouse Pilot readings, for one, and the debate on young Scottish poets – although I heard an extract from this by podcast (day 3). Like Claire Askew, I was astonished by a comment from one member of the panel that new Scottish poets for the last few years hadn’t been writing “dangerous” enough material. Where was the equivalent of Eliot today? he asked. Well, where is the equivalent of Eliot ever! I wondered which Scottish poets he had been reading (or not reading) to make a comment like that. And what is “dangerous” anyway? Are the likes of Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery or August Kleinzahler “dangerous”? Or for that matter, Don Paterson, Jackie Kay, Robert Crawford, Kathleen Jamie, Douglas Dunn – are they “dangerous”? Or more “dangerous” than the current crop of emerging Scottish poets?
But then I decided that it was either just a throwaway comment without any real reflection behind it, or the kind of vague thing people say on panels just to get people foaming at the mouth, a wind-up.