On Tuesday I read at a charming Cafe in Ste Anne de Bellevue. Twigs and Leaves is located on the main drag just above the waterfront strip and almost under the bridge that leads to Ile Perrot. Street number 73 I think. Search it out and go there. Although it was only my second reading I was greeted as an old hand. I guess in today’s Quebec, English language poets constitute a little pond and even new frogs can loom large. I came with a dear friend in tow. She was a very good person to have with me because I know her to be both sensitive and tolerant. You never know what you might hear at poetry readings. There is a reserved, mostly hidden English strain of DNA that has my toes curling sometimes at poetry readings. Fortunately the Celtic part usually wins out and I can allow waves of unrequited love, deathly disease, raptures on nature, roiling rap and yearning homesickness to wash over me, amaze me, stick wih me if only for a masterly turn of phrase.
I admit I have never met a microphone I didn’t love. I am a ham but one who does not believe in making announcements, explaining the inspiration of work, “helping” the listeners to understand. Most of the “explainers” are teachers, I note. Perhaps they are operating on the principle ,” tell them what you’re going to teach…teach it….tell them what they have just learned.” Ok for geometry but not for poetry, I think.
I read something new, something not in my one and only book, ” Northern Compass”. ( I admit to a four-second pitch of my book before launching into the read). Oh, and it’s not a read. I have to think about what it really is, but it’s not a heads-down read every word without looking up, whew, that’s over – read. There’s something to love in what comes out of the mouth of the poet and at least he or she should love it. What happens in the ear of the listener, drinking his espresso or chewing a sandwich, is another matter entirely.
What sounds good to me? . Go on You Tube and hear Sylvia Plath read “Lady Lazarus” perfect as Lazarus Saturday is coming up. Anything by Dylan Thomas on You Tube is good too. Reading..saying the words…..breathing the words out.