Very Small Kitchen. I AM NOT A POET

The title for this blog post isn’t as nonsensical as it seems. Or rather, it kind of is in a delightful whimsy of naming as it’s what David Berridge, poet and avant-gardist based in London, calls his wordpress blog. The blog covers, as he says,  ‘Connections of language, writing, reading and art practice, inside and outside the VerySmallKitchen.’. That’s better than what I’ve come up with, isn’t it? This isn’t a competition, though, luckily for me, although some poets out there seem to be treating poetics as social warfare. Good luck to them etc. …cans of worms… where was I?

Oh yes, David Berridge. Look at the beautiful haikuey thing on his blog’s About section: ‘Let’s ban gravity/ Let’s ban the moon and/ Read all our spam’. That’s the kind of genteel aspirational anarchic spirit I enjoy.

I’m talking about David Berridge because he organised a season called I AM NOT A POET last Edinburgh Festival-time (Aug 2011) with Mirja Koponen at the sadly missed Total Kunst Gallery in the Forest centre. My friend Colin Herd was doing a durational performance in the gallery over 3 days which he invited a different poet into each day for a short reading. I was very grateful to be one of the poets alongside Jow Walton and Samantha Walton, in what was really my first public solo-reading venture of my own poetry straight-up. It was ok, my reading*, but one of the nice and unlooked-for bonuses was that David Berridge invited me to contribute, along with all the other artists involved in the season, a double-sided page of A4 to what he calls an ‘assembling’ publication – basically a sort of loose leaf folio with a title page at the front in pink (fortuitously enough for my blog :-)).

People submitted wonderful and diverse things. My contribution was a playful landscape of columns of text in which I was experimenting with mainly one-word lines with obvious rhymes. It was an early part of something I’ve developed further since (c.f. the three silly pillars reference in my earlier blog entry for those paying close attention!). I thought I’d share the publication link here as I loved and love being part of such a cool venture which felt like a welcome opportunity for a bit of spontaneous and carefree experiment. It’s a free download on issuu:

Colin Herd’s page, by the way, describes what he was doing for his installation, so if you read that, you’ll have an idea of the scene for my reading and for the sort of event I AM NOT A POET was. Which is to say, it’s own thing!

the first page of my poem in the assembling

*I admit, I did find it quite embarrassing that I’d chosen to start my reading by reading one of my fave poems by Colin –  in context with Colin having just intro-ed me, it seemed kind of strange and impudent! Colin said ‘nice one Iain, well done, liked the poem’ at the end, or some such nonplussed retort. It’s weird what you do in life that you think is a good idea. I guess you eventually hope you convince people you’re not a freak. I spend a lot of time back-pedalling away from social death when I first meet people, I’ve noticed….


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