Thursday, 21 May 2009

Word Soup #2

Word Soup is a live lit night in Preston hosted by the gorgeous and talented Jenn Ashworth. It happens every month at The New Continental.

It was the second Word Soup on Tuesday and I was lucky enough to be reading alongside some amazing writers and musicians.

I love the venue. It's in a great setting next a semi-industrial looking bridge spanning the river. It's been totally done up with gorgeous wallpaper, very spacious, with an arts room out the back that used to be a dodgy soft play area for kids and is now a gorgeous open space with art work on the walls, ambient lighting and a stage. And the night was so well organised, I thought (having been to my fair share of dodgy amateurish poetry readings).

The mix of literature and music was just right.

Music by Mr and Mrs, a quirky folk indie band with verve is how I would best describe them. Their songs are lyrically very strong, but the energy of the performance was amazing, I loved watching them. They started and ended each half of the evening, so we had songs interspersed through the event, there were a few laughs, a captivated audience and some interesting use of the microphone.

The first half there were two readers. I'm afraid I was a little distracted during the first reading by settling into the night, and focusing on what I planned to read. Sorry. Then Richard Hirst read a very amusing letter addressed to an imaginary millipede, that had us laughing out loud.

The second half, there were three readers. Me.
I read five prose poems. I tried to pick pieces that were linked to the theme of skin. I read Fairground Man and In the House of his Father (from my chapbook Winter Hands), Mr Ali and PO Box 332 (recently published on Pygmy Giant) and a very new poem called I will miss the rain. I felt nervous. Not too much. But enough to make my voice feel a little strange to me - has anyone else experienced that feeling - when you speak it sounds like someone else? I'm never sure what to read, not knowing who will be there, or what the feel of an event will be. For once I wished I'd read a short story rather then poems, as it was all short fiction apart from me. But, I enjoyed reading, the feeling as though I am full of electricity, the focus, and the trembling feeling afterwards.

After me, Andrew Michael Hurley read the first story from his collection The Unusual Death of Julie Christie. I hung onto every word, he is a strong reader, very charasmatic. His story was beautiful, capturing the early stages of a relationship, the small nuances in the dynamic between two people starting to fall in love, discover each other, but written without a single cliche. Of course, I bought a copy of this collection. And this time, I actually managed to say hi and have a brief chat with him, albeit in perhaps a bit of a weird way (Hello I'm Annie, I love your writing, chatter chatter, talking too much and being a nit nervy). I'm sure he thinks me very strange, while he comes across as such a genuinely lovely person.

Then, Emma Lannie read her story Proxy, written especially for the event. It was such a pleasure to meet Emma properly (I've read with her once before at No Point in Not Being Friends). She is so lovely and had a natter beforehand, swapped books, etc. Her story was so beautiful, nervous, slow, erotic, dreadfully lonely and sad, beautiful written. I keep remembering the car crash kiss. But there was such tension in the room, as her story developed moment by moment, small movement by movement, it was as though the heat in the room prickled against our skin. Hmm. Yes. This is her skill I think in short story writing, creating this slow building beautiful tension and these tender moments between lonely people.

I almost didn't want to come home it was such a good night. I am so glad Jenn asked me to read. Thanks Jenn! But that drive back along the M61 called me, and I had to come back to a rainy Manchester night and get ready for work the next day.

But, I so recommend Word Soup, the next one is on 23rd June, and I urge you to have a listen to Mr and Mrs, or buy a book by Andrew Michael Hurley or Emma Lannie. (or indeed me, if you wish).


kim mcgowan said...

And I'm really glad that you read some of your poetry Annie because it gave Word Soup #2 the perfect mixture of divine things to sit and listen too. And I agree with your review of the evening - but you've described it far better than I could. Your reading was wonderful, thank you kim

Ruth said...

thanks for your nice comment earlier :-) I really shouldn't be there - i had never submitted work before and somehow got lucky! I loved the ease with which you read at Carnforth: need to practice some of your zen! Sounds like you're getting pro now. Is Word Soup for anyone to attend? (or more of a preston thing?)

annie clarkson said...

Thanks Kim!

And thanks Ruth, anyone can attend Word Soup. It's £3 to get in, and I believe the next one is going to be an open mic, so you could even read something...

Mariacristina said...

What a grand night. I wish I lived near you, to hear you and the others read.

I also meant to tell you I read your interview at Fiona's - very entertaining. Loved that photo of you hugging the tree. You looked like a homunculus next to it, :-)