Yesterday was only the second sunny, (almost) balmy evening of the year, and I found myself (almost) beside the sea, amongst some magical works of art and listening to poetry at Cameron Contemporary Art Gallery in Hove.
It was strong reading from Siân Thomas, Stephen Plaice and Rebecca Hurst, and a super atmosphere thanks to the efforts of gallery owner Robin who played host. The building is a former garage, with floor to ceiling glass doors along the whole of its frontage, and we found ourselves sat sideways on to Second Avenue and the languorous comings and goings of curious pedestrians, even an Asda delivery van apparently pulling up to take a look. None of this detracted from the readings, far from it – in fact I made an interesting discovery – that outside visual stimulation actually enhances my listening. (It’s the background noise you often get in pubs and cafes I find distracting.)
Although I didn’t know any of the audience, both Siân and Rebecca are familiar to me from poetry events in Lewes and Sussex generally. Siân is currently Poet in Residence for the Ashdown Forest, which sounds particularly magical and Midsummer Night’s Dream-ish. She read a number of pieces from her pamphlet Ovid’s Echo, a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I particularly enjoyed hearing her take on Medusa’s story. All the poets were great at introducing and setting the scene a little (but not too much) – I made a mental note to become better at that. It’s treading that fine line between too much of ‘this poem is about…’ and yet giving enough clues for the listener to enjoy the nuances of a piece.
Rebecca writes, teaches and is also a talented illustrator, as you can see from her website. She was telling me that she’s hoping to start a creative writing PhD soon, which will take her away from the area and from her job at Glyndebourne. Rebecca has such a wonderful speaking voice. Her poems had poignancy and energy, a compelling combination. And speaking of Glyndebourne, the third reader, Stephen Plaice, is well known for his opera libretti, as well as poetry and a career’s worth of writing credentials for stage and screen. Stephen has had two collections published, and he read some powerful pieces from one of them, Over the Rollers.
Ah, lovely to come away feeling inspired. I’m hoping to be back at the Gallery again soon, maybe to take part in a reading, as Siân was telling me she’s hoping to organise more events there. And who knows, maybe we’ve found a great venue for the Telltale Press launch?