The newcomer reviews: Shout out

20 Jan

As part of our regular series A lump in the Throat sends a friend and poetry novice to poetry events and evenings to gain the perspective of a newcomer to the scene.  This week we attended Shout Out, a collaborative event between Edinburgh University Litrature and Feminist Societies at Middle Bar, Teviot.

Your last review was of your first ever poetry reading, what expectations do you have now?

Having really enjoyed the last event I wanted to have high expectations of enjoying this event as well but was also apprehensive of a student event – what if I was the oldest person in the room?

On reflection did it being a student event affect the experience?

The students were enthusiastic and that was infectious.  The event was quite well organised and it turned out there are some students even more “mature” than me so I was able to relax and listen.  The late finish wasn’t so good for us working oldies, we left early and missed the final set of poets and the open mike set.

What did you think of the venue?

A nicer room than any I remember in the students’ unions of my youth, proper architectural features instead of grubby concrete!  Good sound and a cheap bar as well but it would have been better without the herd of elephants doing an aerobics class upstairs!

What was your opinion of the readers?

There are so many readers I can’t possibly comment on them all individually so I shall restrict myself to general observations.  I loved the enthusiasm of the students and felt for the couple that were so nervous they could hardly read.  I did feel that most of the students haven’t found their “poetry voices” yet and were perhaps too influenced by how they think poetry should sound or perhaps held back by their limited experiences of life.  I wonder if maturity and life experience matter in becoming a good/well-developed poet?  Having said that most of the poets showed potential for the future and I really enjoyed a couple of them.  In particular an American chap (Nick Spengler?) who’s poem Anastasia about his sister caught my imagination.

The last poetry reading left you very enthused, do you still feel the same way?

Yes, I am still enthused.  It was great to see so many students at the event, the room was absolutely packed and everyone seemed to be enjoying it.  I think poetry in Scotland has a great future. I probably won’t go to any more student events though!

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6 Responses to “The newcomer reviews: Shout out”

  1. Claire A January 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    May I say that leaving before the last set was a huge mistake. Not just because I was in it (honest!) — it was by far and away the best set of the night, as it included Dan Mussett (a young undergrad poet from the Uni who was really funny and excellent), the always awesome Jenny Lindsay and a fab stand-up-coming-turned-poet called Katie Craig. It was a fabulous end to the night — you should have stayed! Really!!

  2. Claire A January 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    stand-up-comic* even. Note to self: apparently you are unable to type right after a double espresso.

    Also wanted to add — I agree that a lot of the poets were obviously not poetry-readers, it was clear some had never encountered the stuff and were just working from a vague idea of what they thought poetry should be. HOWEVER, it was interesting that those were the people who got the biggest rounds-of-applause a lot of the time, so maybe we should all be a bit freer in our writing?

    I also really enjoyed Nick Spengler’s work and even went over to say ‘hey, you were awesome!’ An upcoming voice on the Edinburgh poetry scene, I suspect.

  3. alumpinthethroat January 21, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    I am very sorry to have missed you Claire, unfortunately having a two year-old who likes to get up before 6am does not match well with late nights. But I will definately try to catch you reading soon!

    Nick Spengler was great and I would like to hear him again.

    I take your point about some of less experienced poets. I think that what they had was passion and honesty, which is something people always appreciate. Perhapse we to often lose that to experience?

  4. Rob January 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Applause is nice, of course. Also, I want to develop an audience of readers and listeners as much as anyone else.

    However, I’d also rather write something I was proud of and be booed off the stage than something superficial that I’d written simply to appeal to a live audience. No doubt there is a contradiciton in this stance – wanting an audience and writing irrespective of it – but I’ll just have to live with that. Passion and honesty are vital for any poet though.

    I think it’s different for beginning poets. Audiences know that everyone starts somewhere and will clap in encouragement just because someone has had the courage to get up on a stage and read.

  5. Claire A January 25, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Rob — you mentioned attendance numbers to me before I went. Let me scare you by telling you there must have been close to 200 people in that room by the end of the night! There was no space left at all — people sat on table-edges and the floor and stood all round the walls. That’s quite an audience…

  6. Claire A January 25, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    And my comment about applause was vague — what I meant was: the audience didn’t seem to ‘notice’ that this wasn’t what you or I would (perhaps rather snottily, I realised as the night unfolded) call “real poetry.” It was free and interesting and enjoyable so they didn’t care. I am guessing most of that 200-strong crowd were not poetry readers either but they enjoyed what they were hearing. It made me think a bit bigger than usual about who I’d call ‘good,’ and who I’d have reading at my events in future, I have to say.

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