4 different sites and 27 poets performed poetry in (and inspired by) hidden, unknown nooks of the Merchant City, Glasgow It was great fun to be asked to take part. We had been shown the secret sites earlier in the summer to inspire the poems and sworn to secrecy. On the performance day, the audience were asked to meet outside the Ramsthorn Theatre (a converted church )in Ingram Street at hourly intervals (4 different times - so over the day that was a fair number of folk - 30-50 each group, so c. 150-200 in total - not bad for a poetry event).
Each group were then taken to the mystery sites - the graveyard behind the Ramsthorn church, a quiet, unknown oasis of peace where 18th c grandees are buried ; Tontine Close - formerly an 18th c piazza where the Tobacco Lords read papers and made deals in the coffee houses - now a car-park and refuse bin area, enclosed by the backs of the surrounding white-tiled shops and offices - a short cut used after-hours as a pissoir; the back of the Pantechnicon, decorated by fluorescent lights and overlooking the metal fence of another car-park and finally outside the locked steel gates of the former Paddy's Market.
Being part of the Merchant City Festival we poets were given two security men (both called Brian) complete with fluorescent stripes on their jackets to accompany us, stopping the traffic to marshal the audience across the road on their journey from site to site and protect us poets from them (or them from us.) Those poets. Trouble-makers all.
As you might suspect, dog shit, litter, broken bottles etc featured heavily in the poems - but also 18th and modern ghosts, and surprisingly animal and bird life - twilight owls and a bear, ( the Pantechnicon had had a performing bear in one of their acts in the past); the poetic styles ranged from rap, elegy to polemic. (Maybe the security guards were necessary.)
Incidentally, I bumped into one of the Brians outside another event later in the evening. More poets/trouble-makers? No, this time a 3D art video by Billy Cowie which you watched in the dark lying on the floor looking up through red and blue glasses at a screen suspended from the ceiling. I was the only one there. Very mesmeric. I almost fell asleep (not out of boredom, out of sheer relaxation).
Tough job you've got, I said to Brian after. 'I enjoyed your poetry event,' he said. 'I might well go to a few other poetry events now.'
All hail and thanks to Rachel Jury for organizing this event and for having the vision that it could work. (The result of 4 other previous events over the last 4 years and the grand finale.)
Oh, and there's a wee book for sale of the poems plus atmospheric photos of the sites. See CONfab.com and you can read my poem on http://steph.green1.googlepages.com/tontineghosts
There will be a video with short extracts of each poet's performance up on Youtube in due course.
Topics Poetry Dance Jazz
Poetry on the Lake Stanza Assynt Save our libraries Shetland Iona Sense of Place Loose Tongues Norman MacCaig Festival St Kilda Makkin wi Wirds Strokestown Poetry Festival Artists' Books Assynt Sense of Place Dance Fionna Duncan Vocal Jazz course Merchant City Festival The 100 Poets Gathering Venice
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