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.