Post-election, the arts world is left pondering the impending, but certainly promised, funding cuts by the new government. Should such cuts affect Faber & Faber’s brilliant New Poets Programme – a programme of ‘bursaries, mentorship and encouragement’ for emerging poets funded by the Arts Council – the loss would leave the heart of many a poetry lover rather sore, judging from the attendance at last night’s readings at the Curzon Cinema in Soho. In spite of the sticky Soho heat, the dark cinema salon corner was the best place to be, with readings by Tom Warner, Sam Riviere, Annie Katchinska and Joe Dunthorne.
With their words speedily spinning the minds of the audience from one image to the next, we are left wondering why poetry is so often depicted as po-faced? There was more laughter than earnest “poetic” solemnity among the audience, as Tom Warner read about schoolgirls with violins trapped under their chins, and the incompetence of Microsoft’s spell-check when it comes to the study of crayfish (‘astacology’). Sam Riviere finished his set with a nicely rambling 'Galaxie 500'-style insight into the mind of a man who may have lost his opinions, but is certainly sorted when it comes to chic sunglasses. Annie Katchinska pondered the sum of vodka + Russian family + gherkins + carpet and came up with the answer of Toni Braxton’s chest exploding. Joe Dunthorne took Lego from the nursery to (adult) bedroom acrobatics in the space of one poem. Possibly bordering stand-up comedy at times, but still a heavyweight poetic mix of well-worded incongruity, sincerity and humour. Had I had more money in my starving purse, I would have left with all of the Easter-egg pastel coloured poetry pamphlets on sale. As today’s papers howl that the Arts Council will have to save £19m in their budget, lets hope they can still fund poetry mentorship programmes like Faber & Faber’s – there’s no doubt that they breed brilliant writing.
For info on Faber & Faber’s New Poets Scheme and upcoming dates for readings, have a peek here: www.faber.co.uk/about/faber-new-poets/
'Galaxie 500'-style? I meant their song, Fourth of July: www.dailymotion.com/video/x1bmcs_galaxie-500-4th-of-july_music