I came home from work on Tuesday to find a sign on the street corner a couple of blocks from my house. The riverside street was going to be closed the next day for tree felling.
Since our little cul de sac leads off this street, with no other entrance and exit, I wondered if I would be able to get out the next morning. As it turned out, the sign was a block further up than the part that was actually closed, and although I had to slalom through traffic cones, I was able to leave without any trouble.
I'm not sure if I was relieved or disappointed. A day at home would have been nice. But I'd probably have felt obliged to go to work anyway, which would mean a tedious and complicated bus ride.
You'd think they'd find a better way to notify the residents than a sign on the corner the night before.
I had an errand to do on the way home (collect accounts for a small literary magazine from the auditor), which left me running late for the final session of the Canterbury Poets Collective autumn readings. However the first half is open mic, and the second half is the guest readers, so I didn't mind too much missing the first two or three. There were some fine open mic readers and a guest reader I was really looking forward to - Rhian Gallagher. Rhian is not very well-known in New Zealand as she lived in the UK for quite a few years, where her collection Salt Water Creek was short-listed for the Forward Prize for best first collection. I first came across her work on the Poetry Daily website (no link as their archive only lasts a year).
Unfortunately I was rather tired and found myself dozing off. In my waking moments I confirmed that I really did like her work, and I also enjoyed the final guest poet Tony Beyer. I think I'll be looking for their books to study more.
Overall I'm beginning to think that I don't really take in all that much at readings. What I come away with mostly is an overall impression of the sound of a poem. And what I am interested in is: does it sound like a poem? What makes it a poem? Much of what I hear, especially from the open mic readers, sounds like prose. On the page it may look like a poem, but on reading it aloud, the line breaks seem to be lost. And some of the open mic poems had really, really long sentences. Beautiful pieces of prose, but prose none the less.
I listen for rhythm and cadence. Some of my favourites were those that didn't contain complete sentences -lists and fragments. It reminds me to experiment more with grammatical constructions in my own writing.
I do have some reports and links on some of the guest poets from earlier sessions, but i'll keep them for another post.