Stage to page - does it work? Slinky Espadrilles, by Ash Dickinson

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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,

some readers,

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, 

oral sharing,

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.

So do.


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.

◄ Change of venue for Write Out Louders at Cadence festival

Yes, you Cam! Calling all 'political' poets ►


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Julian (Admin)

Thu 7th Jun 2012 19:20

why thank you ma'am, er maa'aam.

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Baarbaara Sheep

Thu 7th Jun 2012 14:59

Awesome, great poetry, great story

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