I turned up to yesterday’s Brighton Poetry Stanza meeting with pretty much a clean sheet regarding how we’d spend the time. Although it was scheduled as a poetry reading and/or workshopping group, everyone was actually wanting to workshop their own poems. So pretty straightforward, and virtually no facilitation required from me at all. Except it had to be one of the more unusual meetings I’ve been to.
First of all there were more men and than women (7:2) – almost unheard of. It was quite a lively and outspoken group (again, slightly unusual – perhaps we were missing the calming influence of Jo or Miriam, our regular facilitators?)
The poems presented were an eclectic mix, including one on a religious theme to accompany an art exhibition and three performance pieces. One poet handed round a series of short zen-like poems handwritten on cards, and we each read ‘ours’, unexpected and quite moving. There was a discussion about the spelling of licorice/liquorish and some heated argument about whether poems written to be read (off the page) and poems written for performance are different, and whether it actually matters what ‘performance’ pieces look like on the page.
As Antony and I ran to catch the train we couldn’t help agreeing that each Stanza meeting is different. On the train, we were discussing various things including the poetry of Ian Duhig and a woman across the aisle reached over and offered Antony a book – “I’m sorry to interrupt but I couldn’t help overhearing what you were talking about and I think you’d find this really interesting” she said. “Good News for a couple of lost souls?” was my first thought but no, it was ‘Be Glad You’re Neurotic’.
Antony was somewhat nonplussed but handled the whole thing very gallantly, including calling the young lady back after she had rushed for the door and left her bag behind. I confess I got the giggles and struggled to hold it together all the way home. You couldn’t make it up, as they say.
(Image: Poets’ Pub by Alexander Moffat, 1980)