Wednesday 24 September 2014

CB1, September 2014: Mark Waldron and Fay Roberts

The poetry event CB1 hasn't met in the CB1 cybercafe for a while. Yesterday at its new venue, the Gonville Hotel (inches from where a Tour de France leg started this summer), they hosted Mark Waldron and Fay Roberts. Since being booked, Mark Waldron's become a New Generation Poet. I didn't know anything about him. Ben Wilkinson in the Guardian thought that Waldron's 2nd book was a "middling, at times disappointing successor. At best, it continues to match Waldron's gift for novel perspective with intellectual cunning ... but at worst, its poems settle into second-rate image-making; latching on to outlandish similes in the hope that they might lead somewhere new. You have to admire the intention, but in "Iron" and its conceit of household-appliance-as-dog, the shortcomings are readily apparent". Waldron read "Iron" (I think it takes mere comparisons somewhere new) and several other poems that I liked. I don't usually come away impressed from a reading but I did from his. He didn't outstay his welcome and performed his pieces ("Were I to jump", "The Chocolate car", etc) well. I can see why he gets into anthologies. But I can also see why a short live set of his might impress more than another book.

Fay Roberts is active on the local spoken word circuit. I'd not seen her before either. My limited concentration span meant that I had trouble with her long poems (and most of them were long). In the open mic sessions about a dozen poets performed. I was one of them. I think next time I'll try to memorize a piece. Both the headline poets performed mostly without texts, though their recall wasn't perfect.

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