Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Putting on a show..?

I've booked all the performers for my next poetry and music event in Montrose and I can tell you that it will take place in Spring of next year (23rd April 2010 to be precise). I'm not going to tell you who I've booked yet (The suspense! The drama!) but I can tell you it's going to be a really, really good night. It's all very exciting...who needs Xmas?

As I've been thinking and planning this next event I have been wondering if maybe readers here could help me get together a wish list of poets for future events (I might ask for ideas about musicians another time). Obviously I have my own ideas about the poets that I've seen but I'm interested in yours too and I'm sure you've all been to events that I haven't and have seen lots of poets that I have yet to hear in the flesh (as it were).

So, think of all the poets you have heard read (live or on radio or on youtube or whatever) and tell me who has impressed you the most so far (list as many as you like). I am very open-minded about genres so I don't care if they write in Latin with their hat on or call themselves performance poets and play the bongos throughout – what I'm interested in is how well they communicate with an audience and how good they are at what they choose to do. Judging from the October event the audience here in Montrose is very varied (mixed ages, sexes, interests - some poetry hardcore, some poetry not-really-sure-what-it's for...) and that should be kept in mind. It is not StAnza where you've got probably 90% of the audience calling themselves poets, for example. It might help too if you keep all the following in mind as you decide who to nominate:

- Whatever their style and content the poems your poet reads/performs should be really, really good. I know it's subjective but even so...this is essential for the kind of event I'm aiming for. I want people using words in really interesting ways. And they've got to be able to keep that up for 40-45 minutes at least!

- The poets should be able to really keep an audience's interest (whatever their subject matter, language, style and so on). For example, Raymond Vettese who read at the October event here reads poems in Scots (which I can only half understand!) but he still completely held my attention and interest and taught me lots of new words into the bargain. This is the kind of performer I'm looking for - someone who really makes an impression with what they say (the poems and the bits in between). There should definitely be some kind of Wow factor (even if it is a very quiet and gentle wow). You should go home thinking 'my goodness, I'm glad I went and heard that poet today! My life is the better for that!' Or maybe that feeling will creep up on you as the next week goes by (you know what I mean...).

- The poets don't have to be funny (absolutely not) but if they can be then that is great. The reason I have put Hugh 'the goat' McMillan on twice is that he can make an audience cry with laughter and cry with real, sad tears (and teach them all kinds of historical details – result!). And his poems are brilliant! Range, my dears, range is a real bonus. For me all the best writers have range.

- Obviously I don't have huge grants to pay wages and I can't pay for air tickets or anything like that but at this stage why don't we make it a real wish list and you tell me all the poets you've seen who could fit this bill (no matter where they live or how famous or obscure they are). I'm just interested to know what you think as much as anything.

Can't wait to see who you all mention!



Anonymous said...

Kevin Cadwallender covers the whole range of emotions and is the most entertaining poetry performer.

Janet Paisley is warm, witty, and hard-hitting at times - she's brilliant.

Tim Turnbull is the consummate professional, a wonderful performer.

Them's my top 3 Rachel.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Colin. Interesting 3. Having seen Kevin at StAnza last year he is on my list of possibles for future events already.

TT - I had heard good reports from others. Where is he based just now?

JP - I don't really know much about at all to be honest.


Rachel Fox said...

Oops - it was StAnza this year. It seems like ages ago!

Titus said...

I would walk to Montrose to see Paul Durcan again.

Imtiaz Dharker, who read in Dumfries recently, was very good: relaxed, comfortable with an audience, deeply moving at times and also very funny.

And my wild card would be McGuire, who in an oddly shambolic way is very good to watch and listen to.

Seeing Tom Pow and Liz Niven next Monday (hopefully), so can let you know what I thought, impresario!

Rachel Fox said...

Some interesting suggestions, T.

What was it you enjoyed so much about the PD experience?

And, yes, I have my eye on young McGuire too. I haven't seen hhim read 'live' but you have I think. Haven't you?


Rachel Fox said...

And what the hell, walk to Montrose anyway. It would be nice to see you (to see you nice).

Titus said...

He opened with a poem that was belly-achingly funny - proper, laugh-out-loud-a-lot stuff - and then moved inwards until you get that feeling a man is in front of you having peeled off his skin, and yet it's not uncomfortable.
And all this with no audience "banter" that I can remember, he just moves from poem to poem. It was a really astonishing night.

Titus said...

God, only answered one question.
Above obviously about Mr Durcan.

Yep, saw McGuire at London Poetry Festival. He is very appealing in some strange way, and connects with an audience.

If, If, If I ever get the time off I'm owed, we must come up for a day (a nice cold frosty clear one in January!)

Rachel Fox said...

It's a long way to come for one day!

Titus said...

I was thinking maybe a short trip to St Andrews as well!

Claire A said...

So many thoughts on this one!

I'd've said Kevin Cadwallender first and foremost, but Colin beat me to it! I would suggest that bloke Swiss who occasionally lurks around these parts, too -- he read at the GRV recently but unfortunately I didn't get there to see it. My mate Dave Coates, who you can encounter at is great too and currently looking for gigs to promote his chapbook... his poems aren't "funny," but they're really, really good... and he offers good patter in between. Like JoAnne I agree about McGuire, definitely one to watch, that one!

These are all people who are 'in the realms of possibility', of course. I'd add others to the list if I thought they'd be able to get up to Montrose etc. I encountered a fantastic performance poet called Rapunzel Wizard at Utter! during the Edinburgh Festival -- very funny, I remember thinking "I bet Rachel would like this guy's stuff!" He'd be brilliant... but I think he lives somewhere on the south coast, sadly.

I'll keep thinking! :)

Claire A said...

Oh no, I lie! Rapunzel is in fact now in Aberdeen, so perhaps more 'possible' than I thought!

Also... Eddie Gibbons. Also in Aberdeen at present I think, and absolutely awesome! :)

Anonymous said...

I think Tim is still poet-in-residence at Saughton Prison, but he's contactable. Kevin's also easily contactable through me.

Titus' comments are helpful. Imtiaz Dharker's great, and so is Tom Pow. I've worked with both.

Anonymous said...

I'm publishing Swiss next February - a fantastic first collection. I agree with Claire about Rapunzel - excellent - and Eddie Gibbons - he's got a new book coming imminently, and a chapbook later next year. I heard Dave Coates read at the GRV recently too. And what about Claire herself? Really fine poet.

Kim Ayres said...

Although I'm biased, 'cos he's a mate, I do enjoy David Mark Williams - he does know how to capture and audience and take them with him.

Totalfeckineejit said...

lemn Sissay and Paul Durcan and Sylvia Plath

Totalfeckineejit said...

John Hegarty and Iggy McGovern and Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas and Ted Hughes reading Ted Hughes.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I'm available for the price of travel, beer and sandwiches.A park bench if it's dry and sheltered accomodation if wet.

Rachel Fox said...

Claire - I have come across Rapunzel...mainly at Wordfringe events in Aberdeen. I've heard him do a poem at an open mic spot (when I did a book launch up at Books and Beans) but that's all I've heard so far. I will look into that one.

Some of those you mention (ie Eddie Gibbons) are others I want to try and catch some time.

I really would like you to suggest the ones you like who are outside the realms of possibility. You never know...I may suddenly have funds and opportunities! I really am interested at this point in knowing who the people are who you've seen who you think are fabulous in the live arena, as it were. And it's not about who I would's about who you like. I am only one member of the audience here so I need to get people up who others will like too.

Thanks Kim - I will follow your link.

And TFE - Lemn Sissay is definitely on my wish list. I've written about him before...seeing him live was one of my first positive poetry experiences!
And now two votes for Paul Durcan. Interesting. I am officially intrigued.


Rachel Fox said...

And remember...I don't necessarily want people who are considered 'performance poets'. I want good poets who can perform well to an audience...wherever they fall on the spectrum.


Claire A said...

OK, 'less-possible' options!:

Alan Gillis. Always puts on an absolutely brilliant show, really really great poet.

Kapka Kassabova. I don't know what Kapka's up to right now but she used to read around the Edinburgh circuit and I always enjoyed seeing her.

Kei Miller. One of the best readings I've ever seen. He teaches at Glasgow Uni so I know he's not too far away... but I reckon he'd be quite a poet to net! Love him.

I'll think on...

Claire A said...

I forgot to mention Jenny Lindsay in my list of possibles. She is bloody brilliant!

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Claire.

And to all...any others spring to mind...please come back and add them.


Hugh McMillan said...

gerry cambridge. Good poet, good performer and great blues harmonica.

Bill Herbert

Paul Durcan is great but will challenge your budget

hope said...

Of course I'd pay to see dear Shug teach us all. And yet, I'd like to hear Titus reading her poem "Housework" in that southern accent. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Shug - I've only seen GC as part of a discussion panel (at StAnza...talking about poetry magazines). No chance to hear the harmonica there (more's the pity).

I saw BH at StAnza and did enjoy his performance. He reminds me of Will Self performance wise but that might be just me writing bollocks.

I'm not thinking budgets right now. This is a wish list.

And Hope - both of those are in my mind (as ever).


Anonymous said...

Gerry Cambridge, Bill Herbert, Kei Miller all excellent suggestions. Another good poet who reads extremely well is Cheryl Follon. She's in Glasgow.

Rachel Fox said...

Just an observation...we are at 17 men to only 7 women suggested here. Oh and Matt Harvey was suggested via email too so that makes 18 (MH is great - I've enjoyed his performances very much at StAnza).

I only mention the male/female question because...I wonder how much this is an issue partly. You hear constantly how few women suceed in stand-up comedy, for example, and yet we all know as many funny women as men. It's complicated and I'm not saying it's anybody's fault necessarily but I am saying there is no way I am just going to put on events that are men, men, men - it would feel odd to me - and yet at the same time I want to put on good events, varied events, invigorating events.

As I say...just an observation.

Rob said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Helena Nelson yet. She's a terrific reader. I'd second votes for both Cheryl Follon (Glasgow) and Kapka Kassabova (Edinburgh). I've heard that Kona Macphee (Crieff) is a very good reader, and hope to find that out for myself soon. Patricia Ace (also Crieff) reads very well.

Now for a few men - I'd second the vote on Kei Miller. Alexander Hutchison is terrific and also sings folk songs from Buckie, which I'm sure would go down a treat at your venue.

The things is, there are many good readers - Andy Philip, AB Jackson, Colin Will and most of the names mentioned in this thread are skilled at engaging all kinds of audiences with both humour and depth.

When you get a huge grant from the Scottish Arts Council, you need to get August Kleinzahler over from the USA - the best reader I've ever heard.

Gillian Philip said...

The Makars are terrific live - Michael Malone, Sheila Templeton and Rowena Love. Witty and funny and touching and sad.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Rob - some of those you mention are on my list already, some are not. All details noted!

Thanks Gillian. A lot of people seem to use the Makar name, don't they? It must get confusing. They sound interesting though. I'll keep that in mind, thanks.


Unknown said...

Poets I have seen, who read very well would include: Alan Gillis, Billy Collins, Mairead Byrne (google her, there are quite a few Utubes of her) Mairead Medbh (performance poet, the original and the best), Miceal Kearney, Paul Muldoon... Paul Durcan, Famous Seamus.

Top three: tough 'un. Billy Collins, Mairead Medbh & there's a guy here called Raven, who's very interesting to watch.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks so much for calling in Busy Barbara. Quite a few I don't know there.

Kat Mortensen said...

I wish I lived close enough to benefit from these selections. I can't even make recommendations since I'm so far away and I honestly haven't heard too many of the ones that are being tossed around.

I'm sure you will make excellent choices, Rachel.

Rachel Fox said...

I hope so. I dread that thing of organising an event and people just being bored by it! It's a bit like the DJ nightmare of the record running out...

I know some people wouldn't mind about what the audience thinks but I think that is just mad. I am often an audience member myself and I know I'd rather experience something great than something half-hearted, not well thought out, unprepared, patronising, lazy or otherwise rubbish! We can have a crappy time at home on our own...we go out to learn something, to feel something new, to make connections (or disconnections...).

swiss said...

for me, top of the list would be kenneth white, who i've seen a fair few times but t has only seen once and is desperate to see again.

tim turnbull is definitely worth a whirl. great poems, great perfomer. and very northern.

i'd like some gaelic speakers - meg bateman, aonghas macneacail and anne frater for definite.

i'd like to see kate clanchy do a longer set after seeing her briefly earlier this year.

i'd return the favour and get claire because i really liked the miners poem she did at the sotto voce thing and want to hear it again. as with anne connelly who i've gotten to know this year and very much enjoy hearing.

claire will know the blonde american spoken lassie that was at vox box when we were there. easily the best slammer i saw last year.

there'll be tohers but it's too early in the day to remember them all and then there's the problem of all of those i can't have on account of them being dead....

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Swiss - a good range there.
Is the slam one called Sophia? I remembered Claire A posting a clip of someone who might fit your description and I just went to check her name.

Niamh B said...

Leonard Cohen, Bukowski, Adrian Mitchell. Liked Rita Ann Higgins alot at Electric picnic this year -v funny in a quiet unassuming way.
Saw Paul Durkan this week, he is an entertaining reader of his stuff, not so much an entertaining answerer of stupid multiple choice questions asked by me, "the middle one" being his answer.
Really like the look of Andrea Gibson and Katie Wirsing too - who I only know from youtube.
And if you want obscure but great I'd name Karl Parkinson as the poet who most impressed me on the dubland scene this year (you'll find him on myspace/ youtube). I find it hard to start naming others around dublin who are brilliant simply because they are friends at this stage, but Oubliette, Uiscebot, Emerging, David Mohan and Stephen J S are all pretty damn captivating live as well.

Niamh B said...

ooh and emily dickinson...

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Niamh, this is all going into the pot!

I'm interested in a way now in some of the names that haven't been mentioned. But maybe that's a whole other post.

Feel free to come back and add names if you suddenly remember others you have really been impressed by.


apprentice said...

Sheila Templeton is good, I enjoyed her at Callendar this year.

Jim Carruth, because he speaks about the concerns of rural Scotland and he's from Ayrshire, like me.

I like Janet Paisley too, though her most recent work has been in prose, but she did a great evening with some Ukrainian translators of her poetry recently.

I agree about Imtiaz Dharker, her breath of experience is wonderful.

Janice Galloway is a wonderful poet and speaker on other poets.

Polly Clark is also a big hitter, and based in Scotland.

Patricia Ace and Dorothy Baird are also fine poets.

It would be nice to give emerging poets some time and space. My fellow stable mate Anne Connolly is currently Glasgow slam champion, but she writes in many styles. And Claire Askew is great fun.

I'll shut up now, before I sneeze and get snot everywhere :)

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks A. It's all helping me make my shortlist.
Get well soon!

Danish dog said...

Kenneth Steven, Dunkeld. Beautiful speaking voice and poetry in every word he utters.

Rachel Fox said...

Hello DD - long time no see.
I have seen KS's name a lot (in the Herald, at StAnza, in radio listings etc.). I have read some of his poems too but I can't say it's poetry that lights my personal fire. Still, I'm not the only one at the events!

Rachel Fenton said...

I'm still in awe of Michele Leggott. SHe's almost blind and does readings from a sort of e-reader thing held close to her face with her poetry appearing one word at a time, and, obviously this makes her read a certain one-word-at-a-time-way but stillshe plays the rhythms of the poetry. It is hypnotic and with her wonderful voice and her physical presence, it all makes for a really amazing performance.

Rachel Fox said...

That's a new name to me Rachel. Thanks.

McGuire said...

I see I got a few mentions, surprised to see that, me being but a mere kitchen porter in the hotel of writing.

I don't have a long list, because I don't know that many poets bar the fair few on here.

I once seen a guy called Dennis Oliver in a tea house in southside, he read poems and sang with a guitar. He was funny and bit o wit. You can find him on youtube actually, two or three wee videos. And, I'd like to hear Claire read, because I never have, and it's an wee intrigue. And more than that ya know...titus, shug, Murdoch (though not sure if it's his thing). Tom Leonard - you can email him via his website.

Rachel Fox said...

Never heard of Oliver - will look up.

As for you, McG, it appears you are quite the enigmatic kitchen porter. One to watch...


Rachel Fox said...

As for all the dead poets mentioned in all the above...maybe a seance night next Halloween?

Cadwallender said...

I just found this so here are my suggestions:possible and otherwise; Emile Sercombe, Buddy Wakefield, Alison Flett,Mike Dillon, Graeme Hawley, Brittany Crosby, Billy Cornwall,Richard Medrington,Anita Govan, Miton Balgoni, Robin Cairns, Tom Kelly, Scott Tyrell, Kate Fox,
Elspeth Murray, Rob McKenzie, Henry Normal, Brendan Cleary, Paul Summers, Nev Clay, Jenny Lindsay, Sophia, Ann Connolly, Gerard Rudolf, Patric Cunane, Valerie Laws, Andy Willoughby, Jo Colley, Mandy Coe, David Bateman,Steve Urwin, Ian McMillan, Peter Mortimer, Rachel Jury, Gavin Inglis,Nick Toczek, Stephen Yelverton (sadly deceased),Janet Paisley,Sheree Mack, Rommi Smith, Michelle Scally Clarke,John Hegley,
(oh I know too many I give up!)but afore i go....Fiona Lindsay, Laila Sumpton, Jeff Rees, Ann Drysdale
Colin Will,

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Kevin. Quite a few there I have heard of and/or seen and quite a few that are completely new to me. I'll put them all into the database!