Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stanza on 14 March

My friend G and I really enjoyed our day at Stanza. We saw:

2.15pm Translated Poets: Italy: Vivian Lamarque, Marco Fazzini
3.30 Alan Spence, Dick Lee
5.00 Jen Hadfield, Polly Clark

For sample poems from all the performers see here

The two Italian poets were wonderful.Fazzini's work was on the theme of the seashore and scent, and included a fantastic poem on Namibia. He read in Italian first and while I don't speak the language the flow, tone and timbre of his voice were all spellbinding. A Stanza member read the English translations. A couple of phrases caught me, "pages of fog" and "it's a difficult friendship, melancholy".

He did one short poem on an hour glass/sandtimer and his ability to look at something that small and create a whole universe from it was fantastic. It is his sample poem per the link above.

Only sour note was the woman translator losing parts of the translation of his last three poems.

Vivian Lamarque was a real contrast, she had the English versions of her work read first, and then she read the Italian, and you could then hear her wonderful rhymes and rhythms to the full. She has a suite of what could only be described as love poems she's written to her psychoanalyst, but something gets lost in translation because English lacks a formal version of "you", therefore the tension between the loving content of the poems and the formality of the address isn't captured. In one of these poems I loved the line, "seven,eight, no a thousand kisses!" and in another she spoke of saying goodbye, not realising it would be for the last time, so while the goodbye was kind, "it wasn't enough for eternity".

Alan Spence and Dick Lee were brilliant. Colin Will introduced Alan Spence to me before the performance, and that was a real thrill as I love his work, it helped me all through chemo and it gave me a way to speak about my treatment in what felt like an honest and direct way. My friend Grace hadn't heard haiku before and she was bowled over by Spence's use of language and his pared down observational skills. I was pleased to hear him say that a couple of the haiku in his published collections dated back to 1968. For some reason I had the notion that he must have sat down and written each collection as one complete project, it therefore pleasing to know that he had gathered them together over many years. And Dick Lee's musical interpretation of the seasons was nothing short of miraculous.

Jen Hadfield didn't disappoint. Her use of language and her ideas are really audacious. Sometimes it comes off, other times it doesn't quite but she's never dull. I will definitely buy her new collection when it comes out, if only for the title poem, which is an amazing list of peculiar place names from the Northern England, set to a long string of "Met me at....

Polly Clark felt more everyday,accessible, but she too was worth hearing, though towards the end of her performance the length of my day started to catch up with me.
Her poem about the octopus Elvis, her sample poem on the StAnza site, is based on a piece she read about a former circus performing octopus killing itself after becoming depressed when the circus folded!


All Premier League stuff though! Go if you get the chance, you won't be disappointed.

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2 Comments:

Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Thanks for the report - I also read George Szirtse's account of the same conference on his website.

1:18 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

I bet his was a lot more informed than mine!

8:19 pm  

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