[ 01-04-2009 ] Tim Atkins, Phil Davenport, Lisa Samuels

The first exciting thing was that I think I’m becoming even more attuned to the innovative practices that feature at The Other Room – and from all available evidence at Openned too. A measure of this is that sometimes previously even when I’ve enjoyed all the poets I’ve either felt the night was about the right length or found myself checking the time. Tonight was like finding a note that resonates perfectly in your head – I simply didn’t want it to end. 9.20 was far to early for me. If it had been possible or I was more forceful I would have staged an occupation and got all the poets there to read things out, to write in response to one another, to sit there creating until we were all too tired to carry on. But don’t believe me, believe the notes scrawled on my arm during the course of the night:

word bits + signs
silence + twitter
I don’t want it to end
A real endless poem – only the start date/time + location

Ok, that’s not as clear as I thought but trust me that is enthusiasm.

The poets then. Tim Atkins I think impressed me most. Partly because his writing drew me in more easily than the others. It’s hard to say why other than he sparked more ideas in my mind than the other two writers. But it’s important to say that we’re talking about a matter of small degrees here. Maybe it’s just a matter of performance, I don’t know. He mainly read from translations of Petrarch which I think will be in a book due in 2011. It is possible that some of these facts are wrong, I apologise if that’s the case and will correct myself if someone lets me know. I especially liked his habit in between poems of leaning against the side of the curious little alcove poets have to read from.

Phil Davenport I also enjoyed a great deal although I have less recollection of his performance than the other two. He was also the writer I ‘knew’ most about beforehand and thus the one I was expecting to enjoy the most. I am a bit annoyed that I failed to buy his book, one of his apples, or more crucially his CD. I will correct one or more of these omissions shortly. I think where Tim’s poetry felt relatively effortless I was perhaps more aware of the mechanism of Phil’s. Now I’m aware some people may find that the important attraction, and it may simply be that I feel I’m wandering into the same territory and so feel more familiar with what he’s doing but somehow it was less compelling for me.

On the night talking to Richard Barrett he said that he preferred Tim and Phil, for me I think I preferred Tim and Lisa Samuels, the third reader on the night. As usual with my stunted critical vocabulary I’d be hard pressed to say why. It may embarrassingly just be down to presentation. I was going to say that like Tim her poems took on a life of their own but that’s inadequate and misleading. It suggests a kind of Romantic notion of recreating the world in your own image which is a long way from what I mean. The language in fact can be tougher and more abstract than that but it somehow has a greater sense of dimension and depth to it. Christ I wish I was sober and willing to spend more time on thinking about this.

Overall and individually I greatly enjoyed the work of all the poets and would have loved the night to still be continuing now. I’d have enjoyed each poet to continue reading until they lost their voice or ran out of material. At the same time I’m still not sure I fully understand quite what each was attempting to accomplish – but I believe that’s part of what attracts me to the work in the first place – the fact that I can’t really apprehend it or articulate my thoughts.

I also managed to spend time speaking to Richard Barrett as mentioned previously who manages to be much more articulate about these sort of things than I could ever hope to be, to sound artist Ben Gwilliam, and to Alex Davies of Openned and more besides. All are very interesting very talented people and I’m really sorry if I bored them by blethering on about whatever it is I was blethering on about. I hope they don’t avoid me in future. Look out for the salford concert series 09 mentioned on Ben’s site. I’ll scan and post the flyer tomorrow but :zoviet*france: and Seth Cluett, Benedict Drew and Lee Patterson in trio play for the series at Islington Mill next Monday 6 April from 7.30.

Although I wish I’d bought more I did buy the anthology of the first year of The Other Room, and the new issue of if p then q in collaboration with the Text Festival. There will be more on all of these things soon. Or at least as soon as I do more work on mutapoem live. Watch this space.

But back to tonight. To demonstrate how much I enjoyed it I was so hyper afterwards that I phoned one of my limited pool of friends and rambled on about what a great night I’d had for some time. I also enthused both specifically and non-specifically in the general direction of Steven Waling and Scott Thurston as well as those already named. Not only that but after the small turn out for the last event the place was pretty much full this time. Result.

Matt Dalby – Santiago’s Dead Wasp

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