Monday, March 03, 2008

Two by Two

Out last night to Polly Clark's reading at Edinburgh Uni's Office of Lifelong Learning, where she's the Royal Literary Funding writer in residence. Polly was reading along with three OLL students.

Debbie Cannon, who read at last month's Shore Poets, was the only poet of the three. She kicked off with a reduced version of her Shore Poets set, and I have to say I enjoyed hearing the poems again. Of course, hearing poems read isn't like reading them on the page and, if they're any good, they should bear being heard again, which they did. The pleasure changes, of course, from the surprise of discovery to the enjoyment of knowing what's coming--a deeper pleasure in a way.

I'm afraid I can't quite remember the other two readers' names: Sean Morris and Katie something, I think. Sean read an entertaining excerpt from a novel in progress about the "beast girl" (i.e., an animal keeper) in a circus. Katie read from a dark and absorbing mystery set in Victorian London. An interesting contrast to Debbie and Polly's sets.

Polly came after the break, reading from her two published collections--Kiss and Take Me With You--as well as from Farewell My Lovely, a collection to be published next year. Much, if not all, the published work she'd read at the Shore Poets in September but, again, that was no problem for me. The new work she read was mostly about marriage and motherhood, though Polly pointed out that the new book isn't solely about those themes. In the best tradition of contemporary poetry, it was not only celebration but exploration. In fact, it sounded a more interesting and therefore more enlightening approach to writing about motherhood than Kate Clanchy's Newborn, for instance, even if the latter book does contain a couple of beautiful poems.

After the reading, Polly, her husband Julian and I went for a drink before I caught the train back to Lithgae. We ended up in Centraal (where I've been only once before, I think; before a Bruce Cockburn gig at the Queen's Hall a couple or more years back) for one drink and a good, relaxed chat about babies, writing, my day job, vocabulary and where we were on Sept 11th 2001 and the day Diana died.

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