Monday, 27 August 2012

Marie Howe at the Edinburgh Book Festival - poetry?!?

Marie Howe, waking us all up on
a Sunday morning
I’m not a poetry reader. Haven’t been since the days at school when we were made to read a Seamus Heaney anthology. Always seen it as a bit of an inaccessible art form, the kind you can only really get into if you permanently wear a scarf, your hair remains resolutely windswept, and your hobbies include wandering around with a far away look in your eyes.
It’s not that I’ve never enjoyed it. It’s just that I’ve never really understood it. Never quite got to grips with how to read it. With a book, I can sink into a chair somewhere and have a right good go at it. With poetry, it just doesn’t feel like I can do the same.
So I was pleasantly surprised with how far back in my seat I was forced when I heard Marie Howe read some of her poetry. She is (apparently) a household name in the US poetry scene. And it’s clear why. She only read a couple, but her poems conjured up strong images and posed intriguing questions. They also had a rhythm to them which I found energising at 10am on a Sunday morning, after a Sat night spent with a glass of wine or three too many.
She read a bit about moonlight in particular which got me a little breathless.
The premise for her latest collection is clever. It’s called The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, and is centred around the Church idea of the period between the high Holy seasons, when nothing’s really happening. It’s a concept which spawned a book’s worth of poetic thoughts from her.
And it’s a book I’d never ordinarily look twice at. But now I’ve gone and bought it (the Edinburgh Book Festival is proving an expensive visit...)
Maybe it’s because poetry works best when it’s heard out loud. Maybe that’s when it really gets power and relevance, and maybe that’s why I was so struck by Marie’s reading. Or maybe there’s more to it. Maybe I’ll actually enjoy reading these in a quiet corner by myself.
I’ll give it a crack. This could be the beginning of poetry for me. I may look back and have Marie Howe to thanks for it.
Or it may go horribly wrong. Either way, I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m headed back to London today, GBR’s time at the Edinburgh Book Festival ended. I’ve still got a couple more talks to write up, which I’ll tell you about later this week and next, but for the time being, it’s been a successful first visit. Thanks to the powers that be in the media tent for the tickets, the press pass, and the free wifi – it’s been a blast, and see you next year!


Anonymous said...

I suspect my constant recital of edward lear's nonsencicle poetry left you nothing more than a little confused, and was probably not the best introduction to poetry! Must get Marie How's new book, looks great!

Gav Collins said...

You should, anonymous (if that is your real name...?)