Veg Box Report #3: The Wheatsheaf
My mini tour together with Rob A Mackenzie closed at the Wheatsheaf in London, where we read with fellow Salt poet Liane Strauss. The evening was put together and wittily compered by yet another from the Salt stable: the mighty Simon Barraclough, who has a second collection, Neptune Blue, coming out in July.
We had to start late: preparations for certain nuptuals were causing traffic chaos in parts of London and holding back certain people we knew were coming. [Insert seditious, republican mutterings of your choice.] However, it was a great night when we got going.
Each reader had two slots: one before and one after the break. My first set was:
- The White Dot
- Breathing is the Place to Start
We were kind of supposed to read published work in the first half and unpublished in the second but, as you can see, I mixed it up slightly for that set. My second round consisted of MacAdam poems. Those of you who know The Ambulance Box will know the fella. He has been reappearing in other poems over the past year or so, and I have read several them as a set before at Hidden Door. Here’s the list:
- MacAdam Essays the Meaning of Loss
- MacAdam Takes to the Sea
- MacAdam Takes to the Road
- MacAdam Essays the Epistemics of a Dream
- MacAdam’s Lament for Island Life
I’d never read the last one in public before. It’s a daft little squib about Sunday ferry sailings in the Western Isles, so London wasn’t perhaps the natural place to road test it but it seemed to work. Again, I had some fantastic audience comments about the sets. The most encouraging was probably from a very good friend I’ve known for about 13 years who told me that the presentation of my poems had “really evolved”.
It was lovely to hear Liane read. I hadn’t met her before the evening let alone heard her perform, although I’d been enjoying her Donut pamphlet so I knew some of the poems she chose. It’s sophisticated, witty, engaging work and she read very well. We swapped books, so I now have her Salt debut Leaving Eden to savour.
Rob was on fine form as well. His autism sequence just got stronger at every hearing. I really look forward to reading that on the page.
We had between 15 and 20 folk through the door, and all an attentive audience. Several friends I haven’t seen for ages were there — always lovely to have the chance to catch up a little face to face, no matter how much we communicate online. Katy Evans-Bush was there and has blogged about it here. She has some lovely things to say about the MacAdam poems — thanks, Katy! Richard Price was there, as was Tamar Yoseloff — another Salt poet I’d only ever met in the Twitfacerspheroverse.
Liz Berry was also in the house. It was really encouraging to have someone from the Cove Park crew there, even though I was getting pretty confident in the approach by then. Liz put me up for the night, so we had a good chance to chat. We did a book swap as well, so I had the opportunity to read her pamphlet on the way home. It’s excellent. Not that that surprised me, having heard her work at Cove Park, but that slender wee volume is packed with really strong poems. I recommend it highly. Liz has a few readings here and there this month, so watch out to see whether she’s appearing at venue near you!
All that remains is to say a huge thank you to Simon for organising the reading, to Liane for being wonderful to read with and Liz for keeping me off the streets of London.