Monday, 20 August 2012

Readings: Esther Morgan and Tom Warner

Came home from a reading at the Millennium Library, chiefly by two young poets, Esther Morgan and Tom Warner, but also by a number of readers from the floor. It was a good reading - both Esther and Tom are fine, self-confident poets and presenters of their own work.

Esther's third book, Grace, is, I think her best. The poems are broader, have a greater consciousness of loss and space than those in her previous two books. They have steeper edges and we are more likely to vanish off them.

As for Tom, his touch now is robust and inventive, and the poems are more complete performances, but with a tough core, so whatever the invention you feel there is an understanding of something harsher held in reserve.

Seeking for ways of decribing the reading I was determined to avoid the great hyperboles that trip so readily of the tongue in poetry readings, or indeed on reading poetry. Those breathless cries of wonderful! marvellous! don't do anybody much service in the end. They become a form of manners, big mwah, mwah air kisses.

I am swearing off them.

Instead I shall take one poem by the poet in question and look to read it critically on this blog. Just now and again. They will be poems I like and I will try to say what I like about them. Tomorrow I will take a short poem by Eesther, the next day one by Tom

What I do think is that there is more good, real poetry about than I can remember for a while. Even from the floor. There is perhaps a greater understanding among the readers and occasional writers of poetry us that a poem is something shaped,  more than lament or anecdote, or the versifying of a human story, a growing matrix of active reader-writers that has slowly been raising the stakes on various fronts. Most of the poems I hear from the floor are incomplete or not quite in control, but it is possible to hear that, quite often, the poet has seen something, and has tried to see how it plays out in language

Or maybe this is just Norwich where every fourth citizen is a writer and one in ten a poet.


Dennis Tomlinson said...

'A poem is something shaped.' A friend once remarked that structure was something important to me in my poems, so I must be on to something!

George S said...

Yes, it is certainly shaped, Dennis - it's just that there are more ways of shaping than we tend to think.

Consider modern music.