Friday, 8 May 2009

The Spread of Poetry

I went to the Wordsworth Trust poetry reading last Tuesday night, with CK Stead and Katharine Kilalea. I know I like programming and anthologising with diversity and variety, but this event excelled itself.

CK Stead is a veteran of the poetry world, with a new collected works that was as hefty as War and Peace, while Katharine is celebrating her first volume, One Eye'd Leigh. And this distance travelled was evident in their choice of poems to reading and delivery of them.

Katharine's talent is in the sweep of her images, which in a reading did at time overwhelm - I just couldn't keep up. But I could hear, that reading in my own time, these images would stretch me between the two continents of Europe and Africa that obviously preoccupy her. She is clearly a poet at the start of a long career - perhaps too eager at times topresent all her wares all at once.

Carl is, obviously, further down that track. His poems were tightly wrought reflections of (mainly) his 'non-belief' in religion and fascination with philosophy and philosophers. His delivery was calm, interspersed with thoughts on what he had written and possible reasons why. But what impressed most was his fearlessness - reading rewrites of psalms and ironic odes to God - in a church. He said he hadn't realised where we'd be when making his selection, but the location added another dimension, a resonance of belief and counterbelief to the work.

These poets at ends of the spectrum illuminated each other's work in a way I relished. We do not read (or write) in isolation, and such programming exemplifies the literary cannon.

No comments: