|7.3.10||That experimental blog is a failure; I’m withdrawing it. I may post
it here at some point, if I become confident that Apple iWeb technology produces pages that work on a Linux server.|
In the meantime, this blogging style is restored, and continued here, in 2007.
I’ve a new, generic blog,
which is replacing this poetry specific blog. There will be no more entries here.|
To help get it started, I’ve swiped some entries from this page, and some of my less rancid prose.
I was filmed in IKEA in Antwerp a while ago, along with many other people. I saw the results last night in ‘Welcome Home’, directed by Ulf Aminde. This short film consists of a series of scrolling scenes across IKEA ‘rooms’, which usually contain people (who were shopping in Antwerp’s IKEA at the time), acting. It starts and ends with sleeping, & includes stillness, conversation, panic, party, madness, illness, exercise; many small sharp snapshots of characters’ lives. I appear in one scene, asleep in a kitchen, with a glass of wine and a Dutch translation of Wordsworth in front of me (yup, I wasn’t really acting!). Most of the characters are obviously invented. The best scene was a fifteen year old girl being dressed by her mother and aunts, brilliantly unhappy with the choices made for her. In another good scene, a guy checks his physique as though he’s just woken up in someone else’s body. This film works well.
I chatted with the director for a while last night, and he threw me by being rather complementary about my “acting”. He has some other unused scenes he shot of me, and wants to use them in another project shown in Frankfurt this coming autumn. I understand the reactions I get with my poetry, because I understand how poetry works, how my poetry works, what I’ve done to try and make it work in a new way, and how listeners listen—or at least I think I do. My problem is that I don’t understand the complements this guy gave me on my acting, because I don’t understand how that art works; I did what he asked me to do, why the complements? So I reacted nonchalantly; I didn’t have a clue what to say. I’ve worked out now what I should have said, which is slightly too late! Should I do something about it? If so, what?
The film premiered at Dedonderdagen #10, a one–day festival of contemporary arts here in Antwerp. The event included a dance piece, “Fade Out”, choreographed by David Weber Krebs, which consisted of four connected scenes. The initial scene had the two dancers, Carola Bärtschige and Diego Gil, hold still in mid–stride as a well–written prose introduction was recited. This lead to an incredible second scene; the dancers bounded around the stage like over–sized schoolchildren, yet if anything their movement magnified childish sprinting windmilling, running & playing, rather than being presented as a reduced adult imitation. The woman dancer, Carola Bärtschiger, skipping and switching, challenged and stopping, was particularly impressive. The third scene, in which a couple walking slower and slower (as they aged?), went on too long; it gave too little information about the two people’s connection. The final scene, danced entirely in the dark, was interesting for the wrong reasons: there were no obvious collisions with walls, audience, or each other. It was a pity we couldn’t see the movement that caused the noise. I found out afterwards the lights shouldn’t have been that low; the audience should have least have been able to see glimmers of moving dancers. It was good to see well–performed dance after so many years, and it leaves me interested to see more (with better lighting).
This year’s CCCP was rather good, although I am slightly biased since I recited there and went down reasonably well. I didn’t take the necessary notes to provide a review. I was too nervous before my recital, and wasn’t particularly alert after it. However, I remember being impressed by Jacqueline Risset, Cathy Wagner, Elaine Randell, Gad Hollander, Peter Riley, Tim Atkins, Astrid Lampe (brilliant, & brilliant translations by Kevin Nolan) and Niels Lyngsø. Many of the other poets were good, too; I wished, many times, to see a poem on the page.
Fortunately, I made up for my general skintness of the last few years and came back with a large number of books & chapbooks; I intend to add some reviews here over the next few months.
As an aside, I think I’m in a minority in writing poetry to be heard more than read. I regard my written poems like musical scores. I don’t put an effort into making them easy to read—especially since a good number of my poems are intentionally grammatically ambiguous, so the same words in the same order can be read differently with different meanings through different pausing and expression. I don’t want to specify one arrangement of pauses because it would deny the alternatives. All that makes the words on the page less clear to those people used to conventional reading directions.
I went across to PN06 (Poetry Now, in Dublin) last weekend,
partially as an excuse to visit an old friend and her new husband.|
I suppose I should have expected not to find it as refreshing as, say, the CCCP (… er … I’m reading there this year) or the Poetry Summit, because these two conferences present innovation in poetry, and new ideas excite me.
All the same, there were some excellent readings, and I was introduced to some interesting poets unfamiliar to me. I have to follow up Bill Manhire, Yusef Komunyakaa, Aliec Oswald … and apologies to those poets I missed.
I have to admit, though, James Fenton completely caught me out. I’ve read and not enjoyed his rather dry lectures in the Guardian. I’ve read his poetry and thought, “no, it just doesn’t quite work for me”. Well, now I’ve heard him, I know why his poetry didn’t quite work for me. The poem on the printed page doesn’t play his tune, you need his tune to make his poems dance. He takes the clay of the page and makes that golem dance. Hear him.
The mainstream is alive and well and has some excellent poets.
Those few of you who read my poetry
will know I’ve moved to Antwerp. |
There’s something about the arts scene here Antwerp that feels like Cambridge. For example, yesterday, I was wandering through a well–known Swedish furniture store looking unsuccessfully for a shower curtain, when an attractive woman approached and started talking to me. It turned out she was asking me, in Dutch, if I’d be willing to take part in a film that was being shot there, then. Of course I agreed; I’ve got a poets’ ego, what else could I say?!
It was an arts film, shot using only ‘normal’ people who happen to be around when they do they filming. Yesterday, their theme was people asleep in a well–known Swedish furniture store. Given they selected me, I presume they were looking for scruffy gits.
They wanted me to be ‘natural’, as though I really had fallen asleep there, so I demanded, and got, a glass of red wine. They filmed me sound asleep, waking up, staring into the distance, laughing, and falling asleep. Oh, God, was I dreadful; I could get an award for hamster impressions. That’s one reason why I don’t think they’ll be able much of me. It didn’t help that I ruined any continuity by drinking the red wine; if they tried to rearrange the shots to build a story, the changing height of the wine in the glass would rather bugger it.
I suspect if they do use anything, it’s likely to be the sound of my laugh; the sound guy liked the resonance, or something. Anyway, the premier is late in April, in the week following my reading at this year’s Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry.
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