Went to the first of the Autumn Poetry in Performance nights last night – and won the Open Mic! I read “The Messenger“, a.k.a. ‘The Spoon Poem’. (I’ll post the poem on this site after I get it published. Maybe as part of the winter rotation.) It felt good as I read it, but I was still surprised to win. Frankie McMillan was runner-up, and I thought her poem probably had the edge over mine. (I voted for it!) Nice to be wrong.
It was good to meet Tim Jones again – he’s a very good reader, and gave us a mixture of poems from his first two collections (Boat People and All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens) as well as some new poems. One of the best things was the way he reshaped the reading on the fly, to pick up some of the themes that had dominated the Open Mic session. I don’t think I’ve seen (ok, heard) that done before. I’d hoped to hear him read “First Light”, but not this time.
Fiona Farrell was as assured as always. She’s someone I really enjoy hearing – she’s got the knack of knowing just how much information to give the audience about the poem before reading it. It’s so easy to say too much, or to be boring. But she never does. Just enough so that you feel her passion for the poem, and are grounded in it.
That’s enough for now. I’m not going to do a report on every reading, but I’ll try to offer a few thoughts. For my own records as much as anything else. You want to know more, come to the readings! What else are you going to get for $5?
5 Replies to “The Autumn 2009 Readings Series is underway”
Joanna, how do I get a copy of Four Tellings?
I’ll email you offblog. Thanks for asking!
To be honest, I didn’t even remember Frankie’s poem when it came to voting time, although I believe I thought when she read that it was a well-crafted poem. Voting at these events is a bit hit and miss, I think, because we don’t get much time to carefully consider each poem. Yours always stand out because you don’t stick to standard sentimental subject matter.
About going first in the open mic part – I always feel sorry for the person who puts their name down to read second. As the list gets filled up, the number 1 slot stays determinedly unfilled, and the person who wants to read second ends up reading first. That’s why I often put my name in the empty number 1 space, because really, I don’t care. After my first few nervous times reading, I realised that everyone else was busy worrying about how they would sound, not about whether I made an ass of myself or not. So I just read, in whatever slot is available.
I know what you mean. Personally, I’m always tempted to put my name down last. But that’s a hangover from my debating days as much as the desire to be memorable. And I’ve had it backfire – I was the last reader once (not in Chch) at a poetry reading that was at a licensed cafe/restaurant. It was around 1 am when I finally got to read, and the person before me was not just off her face, but in orbit somewhere around Pluto. I spent the entirety of her reading wondering who she was going to collapse/ throw up on. (Possibly both simultaneously) So these days I just stab with a pen when I come in, and read wherever the inkblot happens.
I’m glad you enjoyed my part of the reading, Joanna. “First Light” was on my list to read (I thought you’d appreciate it!), but it was one of the three poems I ran out of time for – sorry about that.
I enjoyed reshaping my reading “on the fly” like that; it was the first time I’d done it.