I went to the Albion Beatnik in Oxford on Wednesday night for Sadcore Dadwave and heard poems by: Sian S Rathore, Diane Marie, Paul Askew, Emily Harrison and Luke Kennard, then Dan Holloway, Lucy Ayrton, Joe Briggs, someone whose name I regretfully forget, and a chap called Lysander, and someone called Molly. In honesty it was mostly Luke Kennard who I wanted to hear but the others were entertaining. I’ve only ever been to the Albion Beatnik for music before (or, you know, books), but it’s a great venue.
Sian Rathore read a pair of poems, one with each line starting “I’m so miserable” and one “I’m so jacked”, as well as another couple I forget. This sort of anaphora works really well for performance poems. One had a line that was something like “you’ve noticed that TS Eliot is an anagram of toilets”, which I’m keeping.
Diane Marie read almost all of this and all of this out from a MacBook. The poems were unexpectedly anapaestic in places, which she accented by nodding her head. Having found the poems online I think they are probably my favourite of the lot I heard. Paul Askew introduced her as ‘alt lit’ but I don’t really see it, unless it is something to do with publishing practice as much as anything. I don’t really know what alt lit is. (I’ve read ‘Download Helvetica For Free’?) Otherwise, her poems were remarkable amongst many of the others in that they didn’t try to be funny quite so much, which I suppose is significant somehow. I might write something about I Wrote a Poem Dedicated to God That I Considered to Be Extremely Disrespectful.
Paul Askew’s poems were probably the best for being performed, especially one he read about a holiday. This is helped by the fact that he is a very good performer.
Emily Harrison read quite a few poems, including this one and this one. One was about Facebook/Twitter, but I don’t think it’s really possible to write about the experience of using the internet without sounding like an uncool old person, which I don’t understand. Otherwise her poems were brilliant. The future probably belongs to poets like her.
Luke Kennard read this poem and then he read a story called ‘Insufferably Upbeat Spies’. He reads so quickly sometimes as to almost overtake himself. The story was very entertaining, and was probably the most enjoyable part of the night, but didn’t do too much other than ‘be enjoyable’. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s certainly a limit. I liked the poem more, which is from Kennard’s latest collection and is different from his previous work.
Of the others, Dan Holloway read some rude limericks; Lucy Ayrton performed one poem very well but it was rather too much a performance poem for me; Joe Briggs (I think that was his name) read something about punk bands; the chap called Lysander (that was definitely his name) performed two pieces completely from memory, which was impressive, and there was one which was rather good about “a willow hut at your gate” or something; the girl called Molly performed something about talking to her girlfriend’s parents, which meant she started crying and it was moving but rather intense and the trouble with poetry is no one can know if you are being serious even when you’re probably being serious.
It is interesting to think about poetry communities, and how poems (or any other writing, fictional or otherwise) work when people know the poet personally, especially in light of the use of irony (not just in the sense of sarcasm).
I also notice that I have been using ‘performed’ and ‘read’ separately, and I’m not sure what I mean by the difference.