Thursday, 13 November 2008

Dennis O'Driscoll and Reading Naked at Aldeburgh

I was at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival last week-end, I treated myself to a room in a hotel right on the shoreline and felt the joy of literally being a stones throw from a sea that rang the changes during the week-end from sun-kissed bright and calm to churning grey waves. Aldeburgh is still in that time warp when you expect to see women wearing fifties clothes and then suddenly there they are because retro is all the rage.

Some good readings but Dennis O’Driscoll was one of the highlights for me, understated yet beautifully crafted and assured. His lecture on the political side of his friend’s Seamus Heaney’s work also showed a perceptive grasp of what is important and to be remembered about Heany’s ‘public voice’ on the Irish troubles. Here are a couple of his poems, just to give you a flavour of O’ Driscoll’s work: Someone and Weather Permitting.

Bob, a regular off beat ‘act’ at the Open Mike took his clothes off and pretended to play a flute whilst wearing a Queen ( Elizabeth not Mercury ) mask. Someone read his poem as he did so. I have to admit I wasn’t listening very closely to the poem as I was more interested in the reaction of ladies behind me who were rather thrown at seeing a man naked, apart from a small posing pouch, during a Sunday Lunch time in a posh Suffolk seaside hotel. A skinny older man in a posing pouch is unexpected but somehow not entirely shocking, the price of a soft drink there knocked me back more. A man to my right was unsure what to do and quietly ate his slice of pizza staring straight ahead, his eyes staying firmly at nipple height. Someone took a lot of photographs as I could hear the shutter cranking like a woodpecker. Bob takes his clothes off and performs in a variety of places, here and abroad, at least The White Lion is well heated. Poets are a little naked emotionally at the best of times so I suppose literally being naked is just a notch up the continuum although I hope naked male poetry doesn’t catch on as there are quite a few poets I would find difficult to listen to naked, in fact I am racking my brains as to who would make a pleasing naked poet whose poems would be enhanced by a naked delivery. Perhaps someone may come up with the Naked Male Poet Calendar for charity. I suppose there would be the odd contender for Mr May or November. Suggestions on a postcard to The Society for Distressed and Unread Poets.


Michelle said...

Lucky bean, a room in a hotel right on the shoreline! And Aldeburgh.

Say no to Naked Male Poet Calendars and distracting woodpeckers.

Anne said...

I remember Bob telling me once (maybe the time he performed under a fishing umbrella, clad only in clingfilm) that his inspiration was Russian. Perhaps he meant these chaps, back in 1998? Though ISTR that Bob was getting his kit off long before then... (There's actually quite a lot of stuff if you google Naked Russian Poets, long before you get to the dodgy not work-safe.) A posing pouch, though? That is a worrying development. Has Bob started self-censoring?

Writearound said...

Having looked at this link I can indeed see where Bob's inspiration might lie. I note that this is ten years ago and obviously it didn't really kick off here but may still be deeply embedded in the Russian psyche. I did of course check that the date of the link wasn't April Fools day. May suggest to Bob that he is a tail short of a Shaman as worn by this naked Rusiian poet.

Rachel Fox said...

There are poets I wouldn't mind seeing naked but I wouldn't ever, ever admit who they might be!

opinion8ed said...

I can think of at least one male poet who performs regularly in London fully nude... (without a posing pouch):