Six Poets — Jane Eagland & Ian Seed

Six Poets events are irregular, focussed around one of their number with work to celebrate.  Previously, I believe, they have been quite informal but decided on this occasion to take advantage of The Storey’s new space.  They take their poetry seriously here, which is not to say that it can’t be comic and funny.  It’s far from academic and dry tonight.

 

After a few brief open mic poems of higher than average standard, Keith Hilling opened the main bill.  His poetry contained curious juxtapositions of bleak and charming, clever control of his science imagery offering up ambiguities of decay and growth.

Jane Eagland has just had her new novel **** published.  Inspired by stories of women wrongly incarcerated in 19th century asylums she talked of women being strait-jacketed by society.  In her novel 17 year old Louisa finds herself in an institution, apparently mistaken for another woman.  The scene Jane read fascinated, Louisa’s voice clear and strong, leaving the listener sympathetic to her plight yet with doubts lingering as to her reliability.  Interspersed are scenes of Louisa’s childhood.  The encounter between precocious Louisa and spoilt Charlotte had the audience roaring with laughter.

After an interval Eliza Mood regaled us with linked poems part-related to her Northumberland childhood.  Vivid imagery became metaphors of the changing past.  Her life spent moving onwards looking for something left behind.

Eliza’s thoughtful verses were followed by Jan Paterson’s witty prose poems.  Her memories of her daughter leaving home poignant in its humour and pathos whilst the ex-boyfriend finding her on facebook darkly amusing.

Kim Moore, as I’ve said before, appears to have a bright future.  Her poems seem to fall into two strands; the overt relationship poems and the more naturalistic, verging on the Romantic idea of inspiration and imagination.  Of the latter, the crisp imagery of ‘Convent Attic, Normandy’ stands out. Of the former ‘Saturday Night’ is a particular favourite.  This time realism gives way abruptly to fairy tale, and like true fairy tale it is dark, nasty even, before its happy ending.  I’m reminded of Bettelheim’s reading of Snow White as metaphor for puberty, and Kim has added her fresh twist.

As if planned that way, Ian Seed’s readings from Anonymous Intruder are also full of dark sexuality.  As he says, he is obsessed with strangers, casual encounters, in his poetry he aims for that surrealist hinge between ‘dream and daylight’ and it shows through in his interpretation of these ‘almost’ moments:

‘On the crowded train, the accidental

Touch of a hand is enough

To pinpoint your loneliness.’

Seed’s verses are usually short, precise, but he also writes brief prose poems, static scenes designed to ‘make you feel like your heads gone all funny.’  Afterwards I recall the term for this: Cognitive Dissonance.  At the time I’m too concerned by poems which might be directly addressed to me, whom Ian has never met, or maybe to another me who is not me but us.  The stranger we recognise.

It’s a superb climax to an excellent evening of poetry.  Six Poets should get out more, and maybe now they found The Storey we will have more nights like this.

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