Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Off to a flyer

I might not get the chance to post as full a review as I'd like, with work rather getting in the way of the important stuff at the moment, but just a few words to say that last night's Nine Arches Press Shindig at The Looking Glass, Leicester, was a great start to what we hope will be a long-running series.

The downstairs room (it also gets used for the excellent Ship of Fools comedy nights) proved to be just about the perfect size - it was pretty much full, and the acoustics were good - but of course any poetry night stands or falls by the actual poetry.

So, Matt Nunn was the perfect man to kick things off. His high-octane style quickly had the very responsive audience eating out of his hand (not literally - that would just be weird). I've written before on here about how much I like his new book, Sounds In The Grass, but one more time won't hurt. It's wonderful - buy it.

Mark Goodwin was flying the flag for Leicester, and read beautifully from Shod, a forthcoming pamphlet-length sequence. You often hear the complaint these days that poets don't tackle real issues or politics, but I'm hearing more and more, and this certainly did in fine style, without ever descending into sloganeering. Keep an eye out for the pamphlet very soon.

I thought we might struggle to get open mic readers first time out, but five brave souls got up and had a go, both familiar names and new. And best of all, there was some really fine poetry in there.

Finally, Tony Williams read from his Salt collection The Corner Of Arundel Lane And Charles Street, and read very well indeed. There's something very subtly off-kilter about Tony's poetry, perhaps the result of some European infuences (I'm really not well-read enough to know for certain), but whatever it is, it gives it a certain edge of the seat quality. You're never quite certain where it's going, but you enjoy the ride a great deal.

In fact, one thing common to all three featured readers was the way they used humour. You hear it said that it's easy, at a reading, to just go for easy laughs to win the audience over, at the expense of the actual serious business of poetry. But I think what all three of these poets do so well is go for the uneasy laughs - you know it's funny, but you don't know why, and there's always its mirror-image just around the corner.

I'm rambling. Let's just say it was a great night, and thanks very much to all who took part and attended. Watch this space for details of more Shindigs in Leicester very soon.

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