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Slamming Across the Divide

01/04/2011

A big thank you to Claire Askew for organising Wednesday night’s this collection friendly slam and running it so smoothly. I had a really good evening, even though I was knocked out in the first round. Yes, I was a bit disappointed to fall at the first hurdle — especially because I felt I read well and the poems I chose were the equal of any others in that round — but you can’t argue with the arithmetic.

Maybe I didn’t move around enough or was too serious to gain enough ground in the early scoring, but I was never going to choose funny over serious now, was I? I did consider reading “Tae a Lousy Piper”, which I’ve no doubt would have gone down well, but I wanted from the off to present something that reflected the core of who I am as a poet.

For me, the stand-out poems of the evening were Colin McGuire’sWrap the children in white”, Mairi Campbell-Jack’s “The Book of Antonyms” and Stephen Welsh‘s newspaper poem in the last round. Colin’s poem set me in mind of some of Neruda’s work, with its combination of  surreal imagination, incantatory impetus and political edge. Mairi’s poem seemed to me to mark a significant and exciting step forward in her writing, and I was really impressed with how well she read. Stephen had cut up a Sunday Herald report of the weekend’s protests in London and blanked out certain portions, creating a beautiful, strange, quirky, lyrical, powerful poem — perhaps not so much found poetry as released.

Hearing those poems alone would have made it a worthwhile evening, but there were others. I particularly enjoyed “Scotland as an Xbox Game” by Andrew C Ferguson — just the sort of witty, imaginative examination of the hame nation that appeals to me. Dave Coates also read good work but unfortunately joined me in the junkyard after the first round; that’s just the risk you run at these things. And I liked the sci-fi poem that Russell Jones read in the second round.

A word on the scoring system: one of Claire’s innovations was to have the poets score one another on content, delivery and overall feeling, with 10 points available for each criterion. In many ways, I think this was a good approach. The main problem was that, with 16 people in the first round each reading only 2.5 mins and very little time left between each, you were forced to make a fairly snap judgment. That may be fine if you’re used to slams — at some events, the audience does the scoring — but I’m not, so it took me a little while to get into this rating business. If we do it again, I’m sure I’ll be more comfortable.

Another difficulty was this: how do you score fairly across different aesthetics? Part of Claire’s aim was to bring together page poets, to use her term, and performance poets. She achieved that as far as the line-up went, but I couldn’t help feeling that there was quite a clear aesthetic divide between the two groups and that we page poets were somehow at a slight disadvantage in the slam setting regardless of how Claire had set it up. I can’t quite identify why that was, because it’s not as if the overall atmosphere was actually hostile towards the more lyric approach. Perhaps it could be because we lyric poets aren’t, in general, quite so used to scoring.

Also, the line-up was pretty evenly balanced, but — and I’m not sure — maybe there was a slight bias towards performance poets in the numbers. If that last comment is correct, then the fact that lyric poets tend strongly towards the serious sets us at an automatic disadvantage, though it shouldn’t. Then again, how on earth could anyone ensure that the balance didn’t favour one strand over the other?

Of course, the divide is never entirely clear-cut: there were page poets whose performance skills were particularly strong — Mairi C-J and Colin McGuire, for instance — and Stephen Welsh declared himself a performance poet, although his newspaper poems rang with a lyric impulse. Nor are the performance poets all of one style and approach by any means.

That’s all for now. I might post a few more reflections later.

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44 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/04/2011 11:13

    Glad to see Colin’s getting out and about. I’ve a lot of time for our McGuire.

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      01/04/2011 11:21

      Aye, he was excellent. I hadn’t heard him before, either.

  2. 01/04/2011 11:26

    Very good summary, Andrew, and glad you liked that one. You’ve a brief mention in my article too
    http://www.poetrusselljones.blogspot.com/

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      04/04/2011 10:42

      Thanks, Russell. Sorry your comment took a while to appear: it was erroneously marked as spam.

  3. 01/04/2011 12:22

    interesting to see your take on the night.

    among performance poets there’s a bit of a vague split between the funny and serious i would say.

    people who do well consistently tend to have a mixture of funny serious and pull them out as needed.

    i didn’t realise that yer man mcguire was primarily a page poet, so sheers for enlightening me on that point.

    😀

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      01/04/2011 13:04

      Hi tickle. Interesting to see what you say about the split in performance poets. Kevin Cadwallender comes to mind as someone with a strong mix of funny and serious. Although, of course, funny can also be deadly serious at the same time.

      I don’t know whether McGuire would think of himself as a page or performance poet, to be honest. I swithered about how to describe him, but in the end I thought I’d co-opt him for the side of the fence I blether from! I’m happy to acknowledge that there are folk who straddle the page/stage divide and appeal to both sets of audience; he may well be one of them. At the end of the day, I’m more interested in what the poem itself does for me than whether someone states allegience to one camp or another.

      • tickle permalink
        01/04/2011 18:20

        it’s a funny old game.

        i straddle the divide between hip hop and performance poetry so i guess you and me can meet in the middle!

        there’s a chemical poets book but i think my stuff is the weakest of the three of us, bram and ali are better written down writers than me…

        i’m with youon the camp disinterest thing.

        we all arrange words!

  4. 01/04/2011 13:15

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Andrew! I especially loved the comment that you thought my poem was ‘released’ rather than found – I might steal that off you… I was disappointed to not see you in the second round myself.

    And I am also a massive fan of McGuire’s, always a great pleasure to hear him read.

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      04/04/2011 10:43

      Thanks, Stephen. Feel free to steal the release!

      A link to your blog is now in the above post too.

  5. 01/04/2011 13:27

    Thanks so much Andy for this very in-depth response to the night. I really appreciate the feedback on the scoring experiment — you’re saying the same thing as a few people, and it’s something I felt myself. Perhaps next time I need to gather bios from each poet so I have something to kill a bit of time with in between. I came at it from the point of view of having judged slams before, so I’m used to the scoring system and the quick-fire nature of things. I should probably have realised that other people might find it tricky. All taken on board!

    I think I’d disagree that performance poets had the edge on page poets — I was actually chuffed that so many page poets did so well on the night. The performance veterans like Tickle and Sophia normally come much higher up the leaderboards at slams, and I had expected them to dominate the evening. They did well, of course, but it was nice to see much more ‘traditional’/page poets coming up to the mic and getting similar scores. I was really pleased with the balance, overall — I don’t think either camp had a clear advantage.

    I also think the page community was far better represented than the performance community (I realise these terms are problematic, guys — just trying to use loose shorthand here!). I would say that only Tickle, Sophia and Fiona Lindsay are really true ‘performance poets’ — although some folk do blur the line, notably McGuire and Young Dawkins. But — and perhaps I’m being presumptuous, assigning labels to poets when they’re not here to defend themselves! — I’d say everyone else performing is more page than stage.

    Something that’s coming back to be again and again about the night is the fact that you (Andrew) and Dave Coates both deserved to be in the second round. I’d agree with that — I always love your stuff, Andrew, and Dave was on the MSc with me so I’m perhaps favouritist, but I think he’s really good. However, I’m not sure who I’d have removed from round two to make way for you two! Everyone was just really, really strong — the slam virgins who joined you in the relegation zone gave really good performances too. And the scores reflected that — there were literally one or two marks separating everyone from 15th place to about 4th place after the first round. It was horribly close!

    Overall, I don’t envy you guys at all — scoring must have been really, really hard. For me, stand out poems of the night were McGuire’s ‘white’ poem, too (I’ve heard him do that three times now and just love it), Chris Lindores’ ‘Please Sir, Can I Have Anything At All?’ (the first of his from the final)… and so many more, actually! I really liked the Xbox poem that Andrew C-F did; I loved Sophia’s poem about her grandmother in the second round… too much good stuff to choose from. I’m just really pleased that the night produced such excellent poetry across the board — and that nothing went horribly wrong with my set-up! Thanks so much for coming along and reading, and for this blogpost. Further thoughts would be welcomed, if you have them!

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      01/04/2011 15:34

      Thanks for your response, Claire, and your kind words on my own contribution to the evening.

      I know it’s hard to pin these things down and different people will likely draw the lines differently, but surely Alec Beattie’s “Vodaphone Bees” was a performance piece, and Emily Dodd’s piece was too — I mean, there was audience participation!

      I’d certainly agree that McGuire blurs the lines but, based on Wednesday night, Young Dawkins seems to me more of a performance poet. (Less than incidentally, he’s the Aye Write! Scottish slam champion 2011 ;0) .) It’s the drawing of lines again. I might comment more on that in another post. (Ah! The endless possibilities for displacement activities, eh?)

      • Young Dawkins permalink
        01/04/2011 16:13

        I was going to stay out of this fascinating dialogue, but now that my name has been brought into it…. I am a poet. I take a long, long time to finish a piece to my satisfaction. I was trained in the classic manner — graduate degree in creative writing from an Ivy League University in the US following an undergraduate English literature degree, then two summers studying at the Frost Place in New Hampshire. Some pretty serious writers read my thesis — Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris, Cleopatra Mathis.

        I think the distinction between page and performance begs the question; a lousy poem performed well will still be a lousy poem. A lousy poem delivered with all serious monotone, paper clutched firmly in hand, will still be a lousy poem. Is Liz Lochhead a performance poet or a page poet? I read with her last Wednesday in Perth, and to me, the only answer is she is a good poet who delivers the poem with great wit and style. What about the American, Billy Collins, who writes and performs in a way that encourages thousands of people who would never give a thought to poetry to actually buy one of his books and read?

        And I really don’t think the style one embraces matters very much. When I read at the Scottish Poetry Library last month, I read directly from my book. When I do performance/slams, I know from long experience that the people who do best are both the best writers and the ones who perform the best. Indeed, those are the two most important criteria.

        And funny enough, Andrew, you were the poet I scored the highest in the first round, because I think you are a very fine writer. But if you are going to slam, then my advice is to come to it with enthusiasm and the willingness to learn a little more about the unique structure and form of a slam. Otherwise, you are going to miss out on a lot of fun, and the rest of us will not hear your voice as frequently as we would like.

        Last Wednesday was exactly the fourth slam I have ever read in in my entire life. Jenny Lindsey is, in my eyes, the best and most consistent slam poet I have seen in Scotland. But there are others — I saw Bram and Tickle do a set at Free Fringe last August that was absolutely stunning. And the Glasgow poets — Robin, Milton, etc. – are very, very strong.

        I believe it always come back to the quality of the writing. And I am thrilled that this past slam has generated so much healthy discussion and dialogue. We are all of us lucky to live in a place where poetry matters so very much.

    • tickle permalink
      01/04/2011 18:29

      yo yo yo claire. just one petty point. i came about where i always come. through to the second round. everyone tends to reckon i do really well and have won manys a slam but i just haven’t 😀

      what young says below is bang on the money eh?

  6. 01/04/2011 17:28

    Good article Andrew, thanks for that. I agree wholeheartedly with Young “I really don’t think the style one embraces matters very much. When I read at the Scottish Poetry Library last month, I read directly from my book. When I do performance/slams, I know from long experience that the people who do best are both the best writers and the ones who perform the best.” There are people who write specifically for performance, and there are poems which are best seen on the page as their meaning does not fully translate when verbalised. Likewise there are poems which work very well as part of a set, but which will not impact enough in a Slam setting to see the performer through to the next round. There are also many first rate performance poets who do not generally do very well in Slam. Slam is it’s own monster, and all the queries/issues raised so far (and many more!) are the day to day conversations of the Slam scene. It doesn’t matter how friendly you try to make it, or how much we reassure ourselves and each other. Slam is competition. You are judged. Your writing and your performance skills, and quite often yourself. In every Slam all but one person will – to some extent – be told that they are not as good as others. Maybe one other or maybe many. The effects are myriad – win or lose – and I do not envy anyone starting out in the scene and struggling with it all. For someone who wants to be a top Slam poet, then eat humble pie, watch the people who best you, and learn. However I think the real lesson of Slam is the same for everyone. You will see many people win who you do not think deserve to win. You will be surprised by judges decisions. But you will see people who shine. Who stand out and take the night. People who have learnt to see themselves through their poetry, and to show themselves through their poetry. Whatever you, judges or audiences want from Slam it demands only one thing from you. To be the best you can be. The best what? Performer? Absolutely, if you don’t want to be a good performer then why perform? But above and before everything the best poet you can be. That is the heart of it.

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      01/04/2011 20:58

      Fiona — absolutely, we should all strive to be the best poets and performers that we can be. I’m confident I read well, but I certainly don’t imagine I’ve nothing to learn.

      I’m also comfortable with the competitive element and part of that is that you might get knocked out at the word go, no matter how much you think you’ve given it. If you enter a slam, you’d better be able to accept that, and I do!

      What is it that makes a good slam poem? Does that differ from slam to slam? Do those of you who know my work well think anything I write is likely to fit into that bracket? Does it differ from what makes a good poem per se and, if so, what is the value of that distinction?

      • Sophia permalink
        03/04/2011 15:02

        I know it’s a bit late to weigh in, but I don’t really do the internet thing. Anyway, vis a vis the slam itself…I was a participant so I can’t accurately judge. Things always seem different when you’re in the middle. It’d be interesting to hear the views of poets from either camp who were just audience members.

        Anyway, I am a slam poet so I thought I’d respond to your questions about slam. What makes a good slam poem certainly differs from slam to slam, if your question is referring to what poems will score highly. That depends not only on the judges and the audience, but what other poems are being performed. If the poet before you did an incredibly serious poem, you can score points off that by changing the mood, giving the audience an emotions break and doing a bit of comedy. Likewise a serious poem following off the back of humour will pick up more points as it will hit home harder.

        There’s no difference between what makes a good slam poem and what makes a good poem. Sure, you can talk about sex or make cheap jokes and do well in the first round. But not only would that never qualify as a good slam poem, you’d get killed in the second round for pulling the same trick. Audiences are not stupid, they recognize quality when they see/hear it. And while they may enjoy a cheap laugh once, you do it again and you’re just demonstrating a lack of range.

        Here, the UK slam scene is viewed as quite limited in terms of range or style. But that’s only because the Edinburgh section of it is quite internally focused. Not that many Edinburgh poets do gigs across the rest of the UK or in Europe. The recent leaders of the UK scene (people like Dizraeli, Ben Mellor, Ross Sutherland, Kat Francois, Sophia Blackwell) gig everywhere. You’re just as likely to see them performing at Glastonbury as you are a small pub in North Wales. And the more you travel for gigs, the more writers you meet and the more you realise how stylistically diverse the scene really is. Edinburgh, and in fact the wider Scottish scene as a whole, is not currently representative of what slam really is. That’s not to say it’s not a talented scene that is worthy of more attention than it gets. It’s just small enough that you only get a very limited exposure to the breadth of what qualifies as performance poetry.

        If you want examples of good slam poems, who I’d point you towards would probably confuse the above debate about slam/page genres. But the central point is this: what makes a good slam poet, and therefore multiple good slam poems, is someone who reads a huge amount of page poetry, goes to all sorts of writing and performance events, and steeps themselves in all traditions of the art. And most importantly someone who spends hours rehearsing how to deliver their poems in an arresting manner. You need that combination of writing and delivery. I’ve been to many slams, and while admittedly the best poet doesn’t always win, I’ve never seen a champion who can’t write seriously well.

        Anyway, your question about a good slam poem is best answered by example. Youtube or google the following:

        Buddy Wakefield – Convenience Stores
        Katie Wirsing – Frank Sinatra
        Rives – If I Ran The Internet
        Taylore Mali – What Do Teachers Make?
        Andrea Gibson – Blue Blanket
        Gemineye – Penny For Your Thoughts

        I could continue for ever, but the above are diverse enough to show a bit of what I mean. All the above poets are American, but that’s only because Ben Mellor, Dizraeli, Ross Sutherland and the like have already been mentioned.

      • 04/04/2011 18:35

        Yo, Sophia talks some serious truth here. “The wider Scottish scene as a whole, is not currently representative of what slam really is.” Yup. Pay attention, folks.

        I think a lot of poets who slam in Scotland either see performance as a supplement to their writing-for-print or aren’t pursuing a life in writing at all. This is not to criticise those performers — those are totally valid ways of engaging with writing — it’s just that that changes the whole feel of the Scottish slam scene. Here, I don’t feel I’m participating in the whole UK performance poetry culture like I do when I gig elsewhere. I’m genuinely astonished by how little Scottish performers are connected to the wider performance poetry culture — and also how little folks further afield know about the Scottish scene.

        This is also not to criticise Scottish organisers: I think they do really amazing work, and are actually pretty good at bringing performers in from elsewhere. In fact, if anyone’s to be criticised, it’s organisers in England, who don’t do enough to find Scottish performers or make connections between cities and venues.

        *desperately hoping people don’t take this post the wrong way*

      • Andrew Philip permalink*
        04/04/2011 20:39

        Harry, it sounds like the plaint of Scottish* artists for many a year! Although I’d say, in that respect, things are much better in the print-based scene, to use your term. (That’s judging solely on what’s said here about the performance/slam scene.)

        *In the sense inclusive of those who live, but didn’t grow up, in Scotland.

  7. 01/04/2011 20:16

    This is a fascinating comment thread – thank God for the internet so we can discuss it, I’m sure it would be difficult getting us all in the same room to do so. And thank you Andy for your kind words.

    I often find the distinction between page and performance poet confusing, and like others have said I wouldn’t know where to put McGuire, I think he might actually get his own category. But I would like to see him read again – it’s an experience.

    I think the distinction blurring is not a bad thing, I often feel that both “types” of poets can learn from each other, and I certainly agree with Young that a bad poem that is read well is still a bad poem.

    One thing I did wonder is if reading from a page automatically puts you at a disadvantage? I know that people wouldn’t consciously mark you down lots for something so small, but I wonder, if in body language terms, you are essentially putting a barrier between you and the audience and so creating a distance?

    Just a thought
    Mairi

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      01/04/2011 20:59

      That’s an interesting thought about the barrier, Mairi. The same goes for the mike stand.

  8. Andrew Philip permalink
    01/04/2011 20:48

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Young. Glad to have your take on things. And thanks especially for your kind words about my work.

    Wednesday was only the third slam I’ve been to and my second as a participant; it was easily the best night of that small bunch. There was absolutely no question that you were the best performer there — head and shoulders above anybody else who read. When you took to the stage, the attention paid to you was palpable. A certain hush fell on the room. Anyone else who read could learn a great deal from your stagecraft and I have huge admiration for it.

    Although your poems weren’t the stand-out pieces for me, the one you read in the second round drew me deeply into its world. In fact, you were joint top of my scorecard for that round with Mairi and McGuire, although the distribution of the numbers differed slightly.

    I certainly don’t disagree that a good performance can’t ever prevent a lousy poem from being lousy, but it might be able to cover a poem’s weaknesses to a degree. As Frost said, “The outward ear is easily deceived.” On the other hand, if the writer has a good enough critical sense, reading the poem should help them to see weaknesses.

    I’m interested in what you say anent the structure of a slam. What am I missing about that, I wonder? Obviously, something hasn’t clicked for me and, if any of the more experienced slammers can cast light on that, I’d be very grateful!

    • Fiona Lindsay permalink
      02/04/2011 04:03

      “What makes a good Slam poem?” Ah the eternal question. Debated over again and again and again after every Slam! Kevin Cadwallander is very good on stuff like this. He says things like, “You should write what you want to write, the way that you want to.” I can only agree. 🙂 x

      • Andrew Philip permalink
        02/04/2011 08:27

        Can’t disagree with that!

  9. 02/04/2011 00:23

    I’ve always too much to say about slam and performance and page vs stage, and I haven’t yet managed to get the thoughts enough in order to put them down at length. But here are three things I’d like to lob into this conversation:

    1. People often say that slick performances paper over the cracks in a poem and cover up its weaknesses. I would say, equally, that writing a poem down on the page disguises weaknesses that would show up straight away in performance.

    2. Page poetry is the newcomer, and performance is the “traditional” form of poetry, by which I mean it is the older, more established form of enjoying poetry. People have been performing stories, songs and poems for much longer than they’ve been writing them down. For me, written poetry is an upstart form which has yet to prove itself.

    3. Don’t take the slam scene in Scotland as in any way representative of slam across the UK or across the world. Poetry slam as such has been around for 30 years (if not longer: Keats and pals used to have performance sonnet competitions), and it’s a massively diverse field.

    This whole conversation, of course, deserves to be had at much greater length. Shall we have a symposium?

    (Where I’m standing, for what it’s worth: I’ve been slamming for four or five years, and have my fair share of titles big and small, but really have only been exploring poetry on the page for the last year or so and am only just starting to get those published.)

    • 05/04/2011 12:10

      hey mr harry.

      interesting that you point out that page poetry is younger.

      cos in parctical terms page poetry seem to be the more establishment path.

      there isn’t a slam poet laureate…

      • 08/04/2011 07:39

        Page poetry is more establishment because of the nature of the printed medium: until very, very recently, access to page poetry required access to restricted means of production and distribution (i.e. printing presses) — means regulated by the many hierarchies of universities, companies and states. And of course until recently the majority of people couldn’t even read any of it! Of course, the development of samizdat, zine and now internet culture has long offered a counterpoint to that, but only now, with much higher literacy and levels of access to production and distribution, are those means beginning to be as influential.

        And all this while oral performance has continued, alongside traditional music, as the dominant form of literature worldwide, with relatively few changes. But of course, all sorts of factors have attacked oral culture for the last couple of centuries, from feudal attacks on peasant culture (e.g. what happened in Scotland) to capitalist revolutions. The biggest revolution in oral culture has happened in the last century, first with the development of easily-distributable popular music (through recording devices, radio, television and now the internet), and second, from there, with development of hiphop.

        I’ll pause this rant there for now, but Baba Brinkman’s “Rhyme Renaissance” is a good polemic on this subject! http://bababrinkman.bandcamp.com/track/the-rhyme-renaissance

    • Andrew Philip permalink*
      05/04/2011 12:23

      “For me, written poetry is an upstart form which has yet to prove itself.”

      How many centuries do you require? :0)

      • 08/04/2011 07:29

        A LOT.

        Viewed within the length of time oral creative culture has been going for, written poetry seems an incredibly new and experimental form of art.

  10. 02/04/2011 07:47

    I think Jenny Lindsay talks a lot of sense on the differences between page and performance at none other than Mairi’s blog – http://alumpinthethroat.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/363/

    • Andrew Philip permalink
      04/04/2011 11:02

      “Live poetry is, for me, a bloody good night out, and poetry is so diverse; its practitioners come from such a wealth of different styles and genres that it would be quite impossible to say you ‘hate’ poetry.” — Hear, hear! Useful link. Thanks for that.

  11. 03/04/2011 13:39

    Firstly, I’ve immensely enjoyed reading through all of your comments.

    This was my first poetry slam and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t mind being knocked out in the first round. What I loved was the uniqueness expressed by the different styles of delivery and the poems themselves, seeing people being themselves on the stage. I left wanting to write about anything and everything. I was inspired by all of you.

    I think poetry should be enjoyed and this event certainly did that for me. On scoring, I think it should start again each new round so you’re only as good as your last poem. Also I think there should be an audience vote too, a peoples award that just goes to one person. I know it would take ages to count up all the votes but I think it’s important to allow the audience a valued opinion too. But totally get why you don’t want it to be an audience only popularity contest.

    I wanted to say a big thank you to the 3 poets who came up to encourage me and tell me how much they enjoyed my poem (you know who you are). Encouragement means a lot, I’ve been reading a few blogs about the evening and think it’s a shame that folk are criticizing each others work online. That puts me off the slam community somewhat. Constructive feedback is so useful (I’m most grateful to the people who help me with my writing in that way) and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have opinions or disagree but writers get enough criticism anyway. This is just my opinions as an outsider looking in (:

    Anyway, for those of you who enjoyed my poem, its on audioboo so you can hear a non nervous reading of it (is much easier without a visible audience!) http://audioboo.fm/boos/252022-switch-the-energy-saving-light-bulb-poem

    Emily

    • 05/04/2011 12:12

      loved your poem dude.

      the sentiment is awesome and i love call and response.

      WHAT DO I LOVE?

  12. Andrew Philip permalink
    04/04/2011 11:02

    Thanks again to everyone for commenting here. It’s a really interesting discussion.

    Sophia — Thought-provoking comments and thanks for the pointers. Certainly, the best writers in any branch of the poetry forest read widely and deeply. I’ve commented elsewhere that the same goes for performance poetry as for page in that respect.

    Emily — Criticism is tough. The internet, of course, makes it far easier to publish simply dismissive assessments of anybody’s work. Properly engaging with it, whatever type of writing it is, takes time and energy. That’s obviously helped if there’s a written version so, unless there’s a recording, it’s probably more difficult to do proper criticism of performance poetry. And I should say I thought you did tremendously well for a first-timer!

    I’ve been musing again on Mairi’s comment about barriers: of course, brandishing a book is also a good visual marketing tool. Until Young mentioned his book above, I’d forgotten that it was mentioned on the night. (Sorry!!) I might have remembered that important fact more readily if he’d had it in his hand at the slam. Would that, however, have detracted from his performance? Yes, it might have done.

  13. 04/04/2011 22:05

    I didn’t even know it was on. I’m performing at Stone Soup this Wednesday 6th at Maggie’s Chamber (above the Three Sisters). 7.30 pm. I don’t have an opinion on the page versus performance thing.

    Graeme

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