Stage to page - does it work? Slinky Espadrilles, by Ash Dickinson
What do you do, when you review
A poetry book that disperses
written verses, meant to be read
out loud to a crowd,
who use their ears to catch
a snatch of orally-uttered words,
from delightfully absurd,
top-class glass-coffee-table-wife’s-coffin offerings,
down to the dumps,
of one and number twos,
which might just lose,
expecting the status
of, say, A. Motion,
the notion that printed equals minted,
for whom all the world’s a page,
not yet at the stage,
of accepting that what to some is all the rage,
is where it’s at ?
Do you treat it as discrete,
stand on its own two feet,
a genre of its own,
a stand-alone type of creation
which risks the irritation
of those whose flesh and libation
is ‘proper’ poetry publication?
This book is daring,
both in content and in concept:
that poetry has now crept –
whilst the poetry-powerful slept –
from the closet to the open,
from secret to outspoken,
now onto paper, into ink.
I must add that I think
that this poetry, once heard,
aural sharing of his words,
much applauded to the rafters
is just as much a craft
as Ms Duffy’s latest draft.
It might have the last laugh
as Ash’s dashings have fine flashes –
though with/ erratic/ slashes/ splashed/ throughout
that I for one could do without.
I really have no doubt
that by bringing this book out
Burning Eye have led the way
other oral poets might stray,
hoping to gain the reputation,
that printed publication
seems to bestow.
I, for one, don’t really know
if that’s a good thing or a bad.
Not an experience I’ve had
or ever wanted.
Write Out Loud blogs clearly show
what Burning Eye folks seem to know:
that page can follow stage success.
A caveat, that does depress:
a lack of time spent on the edit,
can sometimes be to poems’ debit,
when read aloud, the written form’s
poor punctuation does no harm,
but can be the equivalent of a stammer
if written down using bad grammar.
So, would I recommend Ash’s poems to a friend?
Well that depends.
if looking for top sonnets to read in your poke bonnet,
stuff that wins literary awards, The Arvons, Troubadours, Forwards;
concrete, experimental, formal, sentimental,
it’s not for you.
But I’d think my cash was wisely spent upon this book instead of rent
if it meant I could spend ages
revisiting these packed pages
gaining knowledge of what lights the crowd
when reading what I write out loud.
And so will you.
Ash Dickinson has been treading the live poetry boards, and delighting his listeners, for around 20 years.
There are probably more live/oral pets around now though, as our site suggests, meaning there are more people who can pick up ideas from the experiences of poets like Ash Dickinson.
I think the jury is still out about whether poems written strictly for performance can work directly on the page. Perhaps they do if re-written for that medium.
You can have the best of both worlds by listening to, then buying – doubtless a signed copy – of Ash’s poems in August at Write Out Loud Bolton. There may be other venues so watch these pages. It is an interesting experiment for Burning Eye books to be looking to publish (in print) performance/live/oral poets, not least as they are also to some extent in competition with online poetry resources, and at a time when fewer poetry books are being bought, or so we keep being told.
So, hats off to Burning Eye.
Slinky Espadrilles, Ash Dickinson, Burning Eye Books. £7.99 plus p&p.