Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Wedding 2 and Rotterdam 2
Leaving the ceremony (G and C in background)
The reception in the medieval hall was exactly the same mixture of the meticulously designed and shaped with the improvised. Circular tables, colour coded with each place at each table a variation on the main table colour, all the colour names taken from Dulux (was it?) paint charts. Close family at centre table, and so on according to family and youth and age, and ability to hear speeches. There was a master of ceremonies, then I read my second poem that I will put up as a separate post as it is quite long (intended to last 7 minutes), then speeches by the bridesmaids, one anecdotal, one like a game with gifts, then bridegroom and bride both speak, and finally the traditional best man who times his speech and barbs well, not overplaying his hand but playing a neat pack of rhetorical cards. Then it is down for drinks and dancing and music. The dancing is in fact up on YouTube, here. And then there's this:
R and H dansant
C and H dansant
The dancing goes on late. There's a lawn and a coconut shy, and young and old. A taxi whisks us home while youth goes on for half an hour more before they too are kicked out, but they go on somewhere else.
This by way of commemoration, for my darlings.
Rotterdam is well and truly on its way, and it seems a great success. The audiences are pretty packed even in the big hall, everything that could be thought of has been thought of, and the poets seem convivial, generous and happy.
It has not been my way to review readings, though thoughts about ways of writing and reading do arise. This morning, after discussing my interview slot with Judith, I carry on to the second translation session, returning a little later for a microphone check, then we do our interview in the foyer (again packed) which gets very nice response, and straight into readings by Umberto Fiori, Jacques Roubaud and Gert Vlok Nel, the South African poet / singer. I love Fieri's poems and delivery and will try to think why later (it's about 1 am now), but it is something to do with humaneness, modesty, clarity and a kid of capaciousness - the containing of much in little. Roubaud is splendid and monumental in his post-Oulipo way and Vlok Nel is fascinating altogether - he sings songs that blend a number of manners and influences, including The Green Green Grass of Home, touches of Beat Poetry, some elements of post-modernist play the whole folksong / C&W framework.
Straight into the Auden where I deliver my brief lecture, that is after an extraordinary film of Auden and Stevie Smith singing in a pub at the Edinburgh Festival of 1968. After me a conversation in Dutch between Benno Barnard and the host, then performances of three Auden songs set by Henze, and finally three poets - Luke Davies, Maura Dooley, and Matthew Sweeney - saying one poem by Auden and one by themselves. End with Night Train film.
The only unfortunate thing in this is that we miss the readings by Arjen Duiker, Sigitas Parulskis and Piotr Sommer, that I would really like to have heard, but can't as it is on at exactly the same time as the Auden.
Drinks, then bed. But a very good day and both my main events went well. I don't actually read till Friday night - with Vera Pavlova and Matthew Sweeney - by which time many of the other poets have gone but the audience will still be substantial.
Ah, hotel rooms, in which I spend the transitory, transient, semi-hallucinatory days of my life.