In the past week I’ve been to two diverse and inspiring poetry events. Perhaps diverse isn’t exactly the right word as from the surface they will have looked very similar: a room of around 30 people sitting with wine or tea, a guest poet, an open floor… but both offered exactly what I need right now to power the poetic batteries. Something of a recharge is garnered from reading books, but nothing betters the experience of words being brought to life on the stage by the author.
Firstly, Rhian Edwards launched her gorgeous pamphlet, Brood, at Octavos in Cardiff Bay last week. I will never tire of hearing Rhian recite her poetry; she has a restraint and poise few can master and within the contained mountain of her performance exist multiple strata of inflection that are expertly folded throughout seismic depths. This is the first offering from Rhian since winning the triple at the Wales Book of the Year in 2013 and it was worth waiting for. The Birds of Rhiannon is sublime: I swallowed / my companions, let them nest in my belly / and take turns in my throat; while the magpie Pied Margot sequence, delivered with a stunning simplicity, intertwines a more personal, fractured narrative within a natural and mythological context.
A week later I’m at Voicebox Wrexham to hear Dominic Berry’s hilarious and perceptive poetry. Buoyed by his shortlisting for the Saboteur Awards for Best Spoken Word Performer, Dominic exploded onto the stage in a riot of sweary rhyming verse (a triolet and iambic pentameter he triumphantly informs us with his best swear words). I almost didn’t go to this event because I was tired, and supposed to be working late, clearly one of the ‘friends of depression’ he suggested the audience might be in his opening, stating that we all must be to be sat at a poetry event on Monday night. Dominic was exactly the tonic I needed to the aforementioned ‘down mood’, skillfully leading the audience on a merry and haphazard hustle through the dark, twisty and carnivalesque territory of his poetry so that afterwards I felt knackered and exhilarated. I haven’t laughed so hard or so much in a while.
Both performers gave beautifully crafted and engaging performances that reconnected me with the spoken word in a way I didn’t realise was missing until the experience. It also made me remember how important it is to spend time around other poets – not for networking or projects or any type of work-related-thing, but just to immerse in their art, to marvel at their ingenuity, and to leave inspired by their hard-work and creative ability.