There, Square, and on fire

You might remember that a couple of gigs ago they rushed the stage  – two toddlers who were rightly curious about what was going on. That was in Bath. Back in Bristol last night we set the place on fire. That was at the Berkeley Square Poetry Revue, with Melanie Branton and Deborah Harvey, and hosted By Charles Thomson and Tim Burroughs. The fire was put out by Howard Silverman, who had just been playing his songs to us.

The whole event bears out my contention that surrealism is a little like co-incidence (or actually is coincidence) and tends to multiply itself out in the real world. I was reading a poem A bird’s foot from Jack  on page twenty-six in The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dead (just go here if you haven’t got it yet). The poem comes, in true Surrealist tradition, from a dream diary. As I was reading, in some small otherwise unoccupied part of my mind I smelt a perfumed bonfire. Weird, I thought, was someone flagrantly having a spliff, outside by the basement steps maybe. Obviously none of the people facing me were. I read on. They didn’t storm the stage, but they paid attention.

Actually they weren’t all paying full attention. Chris – my manager, agent, editor, and companion in life – probably didn’t really need to hear that poem again, and so she was able to witness a vase of flowers next to some candles go up in flames. A vase of flowers in flames is quite a surreal image, Symbolist even, Odilon Redon perhaps. Another image Chris said she was having was Towering Basement Scenario. Though I’m flattered to say that very few other people noticed, I suppose I’m glad too that Howard had the presence of mind to go  behind the temporarily untended bar and douse the vase from the Coke dispenser. It was aromatic.

Also on fire were Melanie and Deborah, and it was such a pleasure to be reading with them. Everyone enjoyed their work and said so. Melanie elicited laughter and gasps of pained recognition with her poem The Box from her collection Can You See Where I’m Coming From (Burning Eye, 2018). I was particularly taken with a short poem Darkness too. Deborah helped us experience the deep inaudible pulse of the tiger’s roar, which penetrates mountains and is in poetry too. She also told it ‘short and slant,’ as Emily Dickinson urged us, with a lovely tender poem ostensibly about a starling (her fourth collection The Shadow Factory coming soon from Indigo Dreams).

It was a great night to be at, thanks Tim and Charles. Follow Melanie and Deborah on Facebook and Twitter and visit their sites for more flames, and upcoming books and events.

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