The Poet in the City and Apples and Snakes All Stars Tour

January 29, 2011

This is just a post about Tuesday. Next Tuesday, Feb 1st. I’m going to performing at Lakeside Art Centre, Nottingham as part of the Poet in the City and Apples and Snakes All Stars Tour.

I’m not sure why I haven’t blogged about this before now. I guess I’ve been quite busy juggling a few things since ‘The Venus Papers’ in December. Anyway, it’s the weekend before and I’m fresh from a rehearsal around at Corey Mwamba’s place and feeling pretty excited.

The ‘Poet in the City: All Stars Tour’ is a touring showcase of poets, that began last Summer at the Latitude festival and has been touring across the country since. I’ve been invited to join the Nottingham leg of the journey, at Lakeside, and as above am really excited about being part it.

As much as anything I’m looking forward to hearing the other poets – Kat Francois, the world slam champion, El Crisis, Oneness and MulletProofPoet.

I’ve been aware of their work for a while, having seen Kat perform live, many years ago and having heard extracts of all their work online. But seeing a youtube clip is never the same as being there. I think in the latter case you experience a kind of intensity, that can never fully translate onto a recording.

When I watch a clip on the internet, I’m usually in the middle of doing a number of other things – and I don’t have any of the live context – from the ritual of having travelled to the venue, to what’s happened on stage just before that performer’s gone on. Being there is entirely different. The experience of being in a dark theatre and listening to a performer’s voice break the silence – the experience of being part of an audience and listening collectively – for me, all that stuff is incredible and irreplaceable.

Anyway, I digress. This evening I’ve been thinking about a) the set I’m going to be doing for it and b) the live interview that’s going to be on stage after it.

A) Today I went round Corey Mwamba’s (the composer for The Venus Papers) and ran through a rehearsal for Lakeside. Very generously, Corey played a load of different pieces, for me to read under the poems I’d be doing with Jason Yarde (the musician composing and performing for the Al Stars Tour). The rational here was the idea that best kind of rehearsal, was rehearsing adaptability.

We also went over an adapted version of The Venus Papers. I’ll be doing a section of these poems as part of my set and having decided – sensibly – that the full leotarded up Venus outfit my not be quite right for this gig – I need to have a short set that can work without costumes, movement or film visuals.

Corey invented, on the spot, a brand new piece of music to go with a poem not yet in the show. ‘Venus get a job as a glamour model’ is born. We will not use titles. We will not use films. We will use a microphone. It will really work.

Coming from Corey’s and going over to Jean’s (Venus’ director) and thinking it through more myself, I’ve settled on a final set and am feeling happy.

I’m sitting up late listening to David Sylvian and feeling positive glowy.

I’m at ‘imagining someone hoovering’ point.

B)

I went to see Matthew Welton (the Professor from Nottingham University, formally of Bolton, who will be interviewing us) at a reading in Nottingham last night. After doing so I found myself experiencing some kind of epiphany.

Matthew Welton, the professor from Nottingham, knew all his poems off by heart and experimented live with sound loops. His poems were the most wonderful things I’d heard since listening to Toon Tellegan (the God of Dutch, animist, fable poetry) read at a festival last Autumn. Matthew Welton was amazing. I was speechless.

After the gig I went up and said hello to him. I really wish he was performing a set of his own with us on Tuesday. Even though he isn’t though, the prospect of him just being there is making the gig even more exciting. I bought a couple of his books and the writing’s incredible. The good thing about him chairing a debate will be us being able to ask him questions and hear what he thinks about poetry too.

Right, it’s late. I need to make a list of everything I’m going to do tomorrow and go to sleep:

Tax return, Apple shop, hair cut, poetry, rehearse, poetry…

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