Last night, I went to the Openned poetry reading, a series curated by Alex Davies and Steve Willey, held at The Foundry in central London. I thought the reading was fantastic and unpretentious. Perhaps because we were in the basement of a bar, perhaps because there was butcher paper on the walls and folks were writing poems and scribbling on them, perhaps because at any given moment a heckler could make his way down the stairs and enter the performance. The crowd of 75 or so was rowdy, a genki bunch. They bellowed with speech during the short intros, then listened intently to the poets. During the intervals, one could hear the quaint key stroke of a typewriter--fodder for the next reading in May.
The readers included: Sean Bonney, Alex Davies, Amy De'Ath, Jim Goar (a graduate of Naropa), Lucy Harvest Clarke, John Sparrow, Luke Roberts, Steve Willey, and Redell Olsen.
Some of the highlights included an impromptu collaboration between Luke and Steve. Each chose random snippets of text. Luke read slightly off mic, while Steve bobbed about. At one point Steve read the letters abab aa bb bb aa. (I think?! I may have hallucinated this.) It made me think of computer language with zeros and ones, a crazy binary poem attempting to break free from dualistic thinking.
John brought in his Mac with words lined up across the projected page. He read, then the words jumbled, sunk to the bottom of the screen, then floated back up, so he could read their new combinations. A kind of cut-up for 2009 technology.
Alex's introductions to his own poems were funny little quips that included references to Doctor Who's Daleks. He should write a chapbook of only introductions.
Sean Bonney, author of Blade Pitch Control Unit and Baudelaire in English, was utterly fantastic. His energized reading style included a head tilt that seem to keep time, a kind of punctuation and caesura to the rhythms of his work.
Finally, the night ended with Redell Olsen, who teaches at Royal Holloway, is editor of How2 and author of Secure Portable Space. Her performance included the reading of text to a video of making quills. The scraping seemed to accent her poem. And the repetitive nature of cutting quills became a gesture in contemplation, a way to stay present within the continued motion.
I left feeling energized by the poetry scene here in London. Overall, a very good evening of poetry.