Monday, 28 October 2013

Friday night at the Friends Meeting House

The weekend just gone was (unusually for me) a frantically busy one, so I'm only now finally getting round to gathering my thoughts about Friday night's Nine Arches Press Poet Tea at the Friends Meeting House, Leicester.

I was recently trying to get my bookcases into some sort of order, and it struck me how many of Mario Petrucci's pamphlets and books I've accumulated over the years. I'd never, until Friday, heard him read, but it was well worth the wait. His reading, from his Nine Arches collection anima, was astonishingly intense, with a lot of that stillness that I've talked about before, with readers such as David Morley. It was an electrifying start to the evening, and it sent me back to the collection over the weekend.

Claire Trevien's The Shipwrecked House, published by Penned In The Margins earlier this year, has been longlisted for the Guardian's Best First Book Award. It was easy to hear why. The poems are subtly off-kilter, giving an unsettling edge to what can at first feel like familiar scenes and situations, and Claire's delivery of them was assured and quietly animated. I look forward to reading the collection.

Alistair Noon read largely new work, before closing with a number of poems from his Nine Arches collection Earth Records, and what both have in common is a willingness to range freely across geographical and stylistic divides that's refreshing and frequently exhilarating. He lives in Berlin, so visits to the UK are relatively rare, but if you get a chance to hear him read, don't miss it - it's hard to think of anyone else writing in quite this way at the moment.

I read from The Elephant Tests, and tried the book's longest poem, Ravens, Newborough Warren, for the first time. I was helped out hugely by Charles Lauder, who provided one of the two voices for the piece - I'd been wondering how to differentiate the two away from the page, but this seemed to work well.

Hopefully there'll be more Poet Teas to come - it was a pleasure and privilege to be part of the first one.

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