Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alexander Hutchison at the Flying Goose

Went to an excellent reading at a crowded Flying Goose last night. Readers were Australian (tho British-born) Adrian Caesar, and Scottish Alexander Hutchison. Caesar's reading was fine, in fact quite entertaining. I don't know his work, but I suspect it falls into the 'anecdotal' category; at least most of it did, though I liked the last poem he read, about coal miners (sorry, can't be more specific, never having read the man's work, I'm going from what I heard two 15-minute listenings).

Alexander Hutchison was an excellent reader, with a somewhat bardic persona which he pulled off well, helped by his sing-song voice. He broke into song on two occasions, and the unaccompanied singing to folk-style tunes was very effective. I don't know his work well, having only read his book 'Carbon Atom'; that book struck me at first as well-crafted, literary verse (I've mentioned before the kinship with Gael Turnbull, who was a friend of Hutchison's). The reading brought out the lyrical aspect, and on the bus home I re-read some of the poems and seeing them in this new light gave them added force. One passage which stood out for me during the reading:

Warty newts and fire-bellied toads
continue your aquatic and sociable ways.
Natterjacks of heathland and dunes (your loud
rolling call like a ratchet). Corncrake
of bogland and grasses; fugitive, invisible.

It's certainly made me want to read more of Hutchison's work.

The audience was full of poets, publishers and literatii. I went for a pint afterwards with Sam Ward, who showed me a mock up of the next Skysill pamphlet, which happens to be by Yours Truly. I met printer/publisher Ian Collinson, who agreed to review the new Martin Stannard book for Litter, and I met Andrew Duncan, whom I petitioned for some poetry for said e-zine. I also met... and talked to... etc...

Anyway, a worthwhile way to spend an evening. Next Tuesday it's the Shearsman reading in London with Robert Sheppard and Philip Kuhn.

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