In my first set in the lounge I worked with novelist Hamish MacDonald. Hamish was reading from his book Finitude, which is set in a world where climate change is further advanced than in this one. Hamish read from a section that deals with “last flights day”. As air travel is to be banned there is one last day when people are able to take flights, therefore having to decide where they will spend the rest of their lives. Hamish ingeniously handed out boarding passes for these imaginary flights and the audience had to fill out their rest-of-life destination and their reason for choosing it. Hamish will soon be posting the results on his website.
I read my numbered set. The numbered set is basically a lazy way of avoiding the stress of having to create and arrange an actual set. I have a folder, with my poems in and number them all. I then ask the audience to shout out numbers between one and thirty-two (just happened that was the amount in my folder that day) and then read the corresponding poem. I was very pleased some audience members asked me to re-read some poems because people enjoyed them and wanted to hear them again. One of the benefits of increasing your audiences participation.
My second set was in the performance space in the middle of the maze. Originally the idea had been to mic me up and I would read, luring people, siren like to the center. However something technically went wrong and that was not possible. I improvised. The whole maze was full of artwork and therefore the people wandering through were looking at art, not expecting poetry. So I wandered up to people, introduced myself, and asked them if they would like to hear a poem. No one said no and some people stayed to hear more.
I found this an amazing performance experience. When you perform on stage you are rather cut off and above your audience. When you are face to face with them in a lit room it is possible to see their reaction, and work with them. It was also lovely to enter dialog with audience members and get to know them.
In fact I enjoyed the experience so much I spent much of the night wander around asking complete strangers if they would like to hear some poetry, and hopefully enthusing them about the vibrancy of the poetry scene in Edinburgh at the moment. However I did also take some time out to hear my fellow poets Rob A. Mackenzie, Andrew Philip, Colin Will and Kevin Cadwallender.
The Hidden Door experience was amazing, there was a genuine energy and buzz. There were many opportunities to talk to other creative people from other disciplines. I hope that we can see more interdisciplinary and collaborative work in the future in Edinburgh.