Tuesday night’s Blue Bus reading was a mixed bag though in all fairness I was only there for the first session. I have to say that I found fellow Australian Hazel Smith somewhat disappointing. The poems seemed to exist in a netherland between performance and the printed page. While this is never a problem with the great performers (in Australia I think of people like Pi O, Nigel Roberts and Joanne Burns) these pieces seemed at best like mildly confessional works at worst not engaging with language as other than a transparent bearer of information. Robert Sheppard who, by the way, is a terrific performer, read new work including a section from his Knives Forks and Spoons Press book The Given. This book makes use of old diary entries, restructuring them so that one section (for example) consists only of questions, another of material written only in May. Though this may seem a fairly rigid schema it came across as quite lively. Sheppard read a section that was a kind of inverse Joe Brainard ‘I remember’ poem. In this case what was listed were the things noted in the diaries that he couldn’t remember.
Wednesday night’s Crossing the Line reading was the first I’ve attended at the new venue: the William IV pub near Old Street tube. The readers were Susana Gardner, over from Switzerland, Simon Smith and myself. I’d feared a low turnout, especially since the reading coincided with a talk by Allen Fisher elsewhere, but the upstairs room was full. Simon Smith read from his new Salt volume London Bridge. I’d not heard Susana Gardner read before but she was impressive. All in all a great reading to have been part of.