Shore Poets on Sunday went head to head with the Euro 2008 finals. That, coupled with the start of the holidays, might well have had something to do with the somewhat reduced numbers. I have to say, it was a cracker of an evening.
The new poet, Simon Pomery, was one of the best we've had for a while. He wasn't the most relaxed in his introductions but, once he got into the poems themselves, he read well. And there were some really strong poems in his set. There's some of his work here. He read "Jeremiah" and several poems from his "Divina Lux" series, but not the ones you can view online. Simon has a pamphlet coming out with Tall Lighthouse in the autumn, if I remember rightly; worth looking out for.
Roddy Lumsden is behind the Tall Lighthouse pamphlets, which provides a link between Simon and the Shore poet for the evening: Angela McSeveney, with whom Roddy overlapped at Edinburgh University. Angela read with her usual skill and aplomb from Slaughtering Beetroot, her fine new Mariscat pamphlet. She's currently poet of the month on the Scottish Poetry Library website.
Richard Price, the main reader, read from his first two books as well as new work. Richard is a fabulous, mesmerising reader. His work is always fascinating, stimulating and strangely beautiful. You can hear him on PoetCasting and the Archive of the Now and I recommend you take a listen. Better still, buy Lucky Day, Greenfields and/or some of his pamphlets.
Interestingly, Richard has been writing a lot of rhyming poetry recently. Although this takes him away from the spare modernism of earlier work to a certain extent, a Richard Price poem in ballad form is still unlike anything else you'll read or hear. Nonetheless, there's an extremely strong song element to these poems, so it's no surprise he's been writing song lyrics too. In fact, her read one song; you'd be hard pushed to distinguish it formally or stylistically from some of the recent poems. And I mean that as a compliment.
That gives us a kind of link to Sunday's music. Stewart Hanratty was excellent, with powerful, jazz-tinged songwriting and guitar playing. After his song about hats, it was inevitable that Angela should read her poem on the same subject. You'll just have to buy the pamphlet to read it, though!
Sunday's event was my last as a Shore poet. I've stepped down from the group after, I think six years, owing partly to a busier family life. It has been great fun to be part of Shore Poets, but it's time to concentrate my energies elsewhere. I still plan to be around the readings, so this won't be the last SP gig report you'll read here. I went out on a high, though: I won the famous Shore Poets lemon cake.