On Wednesday evening I was invited to appear at the Frome Poetry Cafe (http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/FROME-POETRY-CAFE/story-15590280-detail/story.html ) and as I drove there I was thinking about my set, what to include, the running order, whether I should offer explanations of the poems or just let people make up their own. I know that I tend to think all my new poems are masterpieces, it usually takes about three weeks or so before I start to gain a idea of their true worth, therefore I was debating which to include. So as I drove along I was weighing up the various merits of different poems.
Experience has taught me that there are a couple of poems that tend to be well received and that make people laugh – Elvis, Football Shirt and Gobby Boys always go down well. I knew that I would end with those three (in reverse order) and I had decided that I would begin with How to Get To The Moon, I had even memorised it so that I could wave my hands about, instead of gripping my book as I tend to do.
When I performed Moon I realised that the audience did not know when it had ended, they did not know if there was more to come and I was merely taking a breath or if that was it. This was interesting, because when you read a poem, your eye takes in the length and you know how long it is, when you listen you do not have that visual cue; you have not heard the poem before, there may be more to come. I think my nervousness amplified this for me. I smiled and dropped my hands, there was applause. I made a mental note, however, to revisit the poem and see if I could make it clearer.
No two performances are ever the same, this time I seemed to be in a Yuri Gagarin turn of mind. I read The Tears of Yuri Gagarin (http://magpiebridge.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/yuri-gagarin.html) in the first set and then Gagarin Jumped in the second, so I must have come across as a fan boy. There are worse people to have as a hero. All in all a good night.
Both of my sets were well received. I shared the bill with Mo Robinson (http://www.myspace.com/morobinson_music) an excellent singer/songwriter, who is well worth checking out. I was reminded of the narrative skills of Guy Clarke as I sat entranced by his songs.
As I listened to the open mic performers I was once again reminded of just how wonderfully creative we humans are, the quality of the poetry was excellent. If you get the chance, go to the Frome Poetry Cafe, it’s bi-monthly and more than worth the trip.
It was strange to be back in Frome, I lived there in the 1980’s, and my novel The Jowler is set there. It is a mystery story set in an alternate Britain. In fact the first victim is found drowned in a paving stone not ten yards from the cafe! I was thinking of this as I packed up at the end of the evening.
Here is a poem to end on.
In the Martian Museum:
Scraps of Earth on display,
Salvaged out of landfill,
Nothing is forever,
But there are faint traces
Trawled from our wreckage.
Here is my second wedding ring,
Thankfully nothing of you remains.
Have a good a week.