Wednesday night was blowing a gale in London, but the threatened tube strike had been suspended, and the day’s lashing rain finally dried up. So, given the circumstances, there was a good turn out for Loose Muse at the Poetry Café, where I was billed as one of the two featured writers. Unfortunately, Sally Spedding, the other invited writer for February, couldn’t make it down from Wales due to the horrendous weather. But it was still a full evening. The first half saw Claire Booker‘s short play, Last Man in Watford, energetically performed by three young actors. Claire’s play, an acerbic future vision of the world ruled by women, went down a treat with the mostly female audience. Claire then read a few of her poems, and I particularly enjoyed her poem about a double bassist’s relationship with his instrument – pun most definitely intended.
After the break, and more readers from the floor – varied, surprising, entertaining as ever – it was my Big Moment. Loose Muse host Agnes allows her features a generous twenty minutes, and I’d spent a good while thinking about what to read. I finally settled on a mix of poems and very short stories, with a nice balance (I hoped) of light and shade, humour and darker material. I started with a few poems from Triptych Poets, then read the stories Battersea Park Road Blues, Withdrawn – quite an intense piece to read, I discovered! – and Struth, which was published in the first Loose Muse anthology, and it’s still a delight to realise I’ve written something that elicits smiles and laughter from the audience. I finished with three more poems, and barley fluffed a line. Over the course of rehearsing my reading, I spotted a few recurring images or echoes (pebbles, thunderstorms) that I hadn’t been aware of before in my work. But it was only on Tuesday night, with my last practice, that I noticed my set began with the word listen, in the poem title Listen and Repeat, and ended with The Pianist persuading the oceans to listen. I’m glad to say that on Wednesday night the Loose Muse audience listened most intently. My thanks again to Agnes for giving me this opportunity to perform a longer selection of my writing.
Photos: Joolz Sparkes