Last night I did a reading with a difference. I read along with Lemn Sissay, Jacob Sam-La Rose and Laura Dedicoat. This was one of a series of collaborative events between Apples and Snakes and Nine Arches Press, with support from Bloodaxe Books and Warwick Arts Centre. So why was this one different you might wonder? We’ll all used to the standard format of a poetry reading, aren’t we? A) Poet gets up B) Poet reads poems C) Poet ends, applause, sit down. What made the Wordsmiths & Co. reading different was that all four poets were interviewed on aspects of their work by a host, in this case the host was the wonderful Jo Bell. Jo asked some very thoughtful questions after reading and getting acquainted with our work. It’s a format I’ve seen here and there, but this reading didn’t just feature the questions as an afterthought but as an integral part of the performance. I was really impressed with Jo’s ability to ask questions which were suited to the poetry and the poet and do so in a very sharp and structured fashion. She must have really done her homework on us!
The readings were great. In many ways all four of us were quite different writers, but I felt along with most of the audience it seemed, that there were common threads uniting the work. Mainly there were links in terms of identity, self-perception and personal history. Laura Dedicoat is a young performance poet, one of the Nottingham based ‘Mouthy Poets,’ even though she lives in Birmingham. Her commitment to poetry was startling, her approach was warm and approachable and I’m eager to see more. Jacob Sam La-Rose read from his brilliant first collection ‘Breaking Silence.’ His work seemed to have a biographical focus and was full of imagery and inventive used of language. The poems about mothers, families, traditions and city life immediately appealed to me. I brought a copy and it’s a welcome addition to my reading. Here’s one of Jacob’s poem on the Poetry Archive site that we all enjoyed last night on the curious subject matter for dreams. Click here for a treat. Lemn Sissay is obviously very well known and his performance was theatrical and super-charged with energy. He made for a fascinating interviewee and I found his comments on poetry and using the Internet really thought-provoking. At one point he said that he kept a blog for the love of writing and didn’t care if no one read it; a blog is a personal record. I was asked about not only my poetry but about my other writing; prose, reviews and blogging. I often think of blog posts as open diary entries which are written out of enthusiasm rather than simply for the sake of saying something.
I am so proud to have been part of this event and look forward to forthcoming events from Wordsmiths& Co. After 4 weeks of the Taylor household being pursued by virus after virus it was a welcome source of inspiration!