Monday, 13 May 2013

"Putting poets in museums," by Vahni Capildeo. Link to PN review.

We are starting to make an impact in the wider world of poetry. I hope the start of Vahni's article inspires you to subscribe to PN review to read the rest.
May's readings in the galleries were both popular and successful. We started at 12.30 with over thirty people and it built from there. A number of us felt it was the best session yet. 
The decision to repeat the Xu Bing poems outside the exhibition was justified in a doubled audience. It was Giles' first chance to read his poem, which is blogged here earlier.
A theme of death resurrection, and the connection between the human and the divine came through strongly on Saturday.
There were nine poets reading, a record.
I apologize on behalf of the museum for mistakes in the written programme. 
There have been admin problems this week.
I am never-the-less confused how Katherine Shirley, our first poet visitor from London, had her name changed to Katherine Stanley. I hope she comes back. 
See her poem next up on the blog.

Putting Poets in MuseumsVahni Capildeo
Inside the museum, a man stands next to a glass case. The usual museum atmosphere of anaerobically respiring darkness experiences a breakage. Light flashes as the man, who is a poet, turns his head. He gestures. More heads turn. The spill of gold coins, arranged inside the case, suddenly appears both hidden and found; like itself, like surprise, like profusion. A poem is spoken.

I feel uncomfortable; not because objects need no words, or words live without objects. Perhaps because museums can have a shushing effect on people; couples cling, families cluster, individuals file. Perhaps it seems like effrontery to say anything in return, or as a departure, because we are told what we are looking at by the catalogue, audio guide, tour guide, and we are also told off by a room invigilator if we come up too close to look. Perhaps it is that the poet, Paul Surman, is speaking about the hands which handled those bits of metal, and his words are making our own fingers feel chill or anarchic, craving contact, hyperaware of our prohibitive ability to connect; with every personal reaction to an object, every private imagination sparked by a word, we are alone in a series of enriching infidelities to the differently alone people with whom we share overseen space.

Outside the museum, the troubling surge in Victoriana continues. People who insist that they are real women latch themselves into corsets and scratch at the streets they fear at night. 

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