Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poetry on the stumps

Earlier tonight, Ms. Geranium went to a poetry reading at our friend Terry's house. Of course, we got there a little late as we first had to visit Madison' Greek Fest (a thoroughly awesome event, especially if you like Greek music and food, which I do) where we were treated to the amazing Panopoulos Orchestra (sorry, I can't find a link for them). They were really, really, ummm... great! What else is there to say? They'll be there again tomorrow (Sunday). If you are in Madison, I would heartily recommend you stop by. When else will you have the chance to hear music this good for free?

Okay, back to the poetry reading. Our friend Terry has hosted these several times now, but, for one reason or another, this was the first time we were able to attend. Basically, she has a back yard with some stumps in it, she invites a bunch of people to come over and read, or listen to, poetry. It was very informal and very cool (cool as in "neat-o", the weather was rather warm). The trains run right past her house, the traffic is pretty heavy, but it didn't stop people from reading their poetry. Nice people enjoying a summer evening outside and not watching television! (If Americans start creating their own entertainment, then the terrorists have already won!) I loved it. I can't remember everything that was read, and I can't comment on what occurred before we made our fashionably late arrival, but most people just read a poem or two that they liked. Terry's daughter read at least one poem she had written herself. That was awesome. Ms. Geranium read a poem by Les Barker entitled "Spot Was Not Like the Rest". I read a Linton Kwesi Johnson poem called "Mekin Histri" and since the LKJ piece is rather serious, in an attempt to lighten things up a little, I followed it with Les Barker's "Voicemail". It was a little awkward reading the LKJ poem, as he writes in a Jamaican-british dialect, which, obviously, is not my native way of speaking, but since he writes it phonetically, I figured I ought to read it as written. I love his stuff, though, so what the heck. Hopefully I didn't mess it up too badly.

I found some Les Barker on YouTube, so here is one that includes "Spot Was Not Like The Rest", (which starts around 7:55. Oh, and when he says "zebra", it sounds like "zebbra" to us Americans) among others. It's kind of long for a YouTube video, but if you've never heard Les Barker, it's worth the time. I had the pleasure of seeing him read his poetry in person once, and he almost killed me. I don't think I have laughed so hard at any live performance before or since.

And here is a Linton Kwesi Johnson clip for any who are interested (not the one I read, which I was unable to find on the YouTubes). I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform twice in Madison: once with the Dennis Bovell Band and once reading his poetry a cappella. Both were extremely powerful performances in their own way. If you ever have the chance to see him, don't pass it up!


Suzy said...

I think one of the things that makes Les Barker so damned funny is his delivery. I remember him reading his Desiderata; I think I laughed that evening until my sides ached.

Beeteedub, did you notice what he did when he took a sip of tea? Maybe it's part of my heritage!

Poetry on the stumps was wonderful. (I was really looking for "Spot of the Antarctic" to read -- about a Dalmation sled dog -- but it doesn't appear to be in any of our books.)

gomonkeygo said...

Johnson rocks, Mr. Geranium. Don't know Barker but I'll check him out. Funny, but we've got a wall of poetry and never heard of him.

Thanks for stopping by The New Disease - appreciate it - and please come back. Don't hesitate to link. I'll do one back and one to the new band too. I'm starting a bands only section of links and an authors only section, too.

Can't wait to get those CDs!!!! Feel free to email me here:

gomonkeygo_jo @ yahoo . com

I'll send you my real email address then!

Take care - Joelmonkey

Crayons said...

I really enjoyed reading this! The Greek Fest sounds great, especially the band. Your rendering of Stump is grand. It's funny that people don't really read much poetry in day-to-day life (it's a notorious loser in bookstore inventories), but most people can name a poem that really touches them.

I'm on a computer that won't read those U-Tube videos, so I'll just enjoy looking at the stills.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Nice to hear you and Ms. Geranium had a nice evening among friends.

I LOVED the LKJ video. He is fantastic! That kind of stuff is right up my alley and yet I never heard of him. I'm so glad you posted this. Thank you.

Ed said...

Suzy: yes, I did notice that thing he did while drinking his tea. It looked very familiar, for some reason.

gomonkeygo: I liked looking at you're blog. I'll put it up there on my blog roll. Soon. It doesn't surprise me that you would be an LKJ fan, nor that you haven't heard of Les Barker. He (Barker) isn't well known in this country, but very funny, particularly if you can see him read his stuff in person. I don't know how I heard about him, from a sister-in-law would be my guess.

Crayons: I half expected to see you there. Regarding what you said about poetry, it's definitely a curious phenomenon. I, myself, have a hard time with poetry, yet there is definitely something about it which lends power to the written or spoken word in a way that I don't understand. It seems somehow wired into people on a very basic level.

Pagan: Glad you enjoyed the LKJ! After listening to some of the songs you have put up on your blog, it doesn't surprise me that you would like him (you have very eclectic and interesting taste in music), but I'm a little surprised you didn't already know about him. In case you want to check out more, Making History is one of my all-time favorite albums, and Forces of Victory is up there, too. But that's not to say that his other albums aren't worth checking out.