Back to Leith
I’ve done many things in Leith. A lot of them are unpublishable, many forgotten. For years, it was a black hole, irresistibly drawing one or two weekends out of four across the M8 for debauchery and bon viveur. You get an atmosphere as close to that in the West End of Glasgow as I’ve found.
Tonight, I’m going back to Leith, thanks to Goodnight Press – to do something I’ve done a lot of, but never (‘formally’) in Leith. In fact it’s been too long since I did this anywhere – a reading.
I can’t deny I’m excited. Poetry has been scratched on walls, carved into the bark of trees, planted in gardens and printed with (and now without) ink in books and magazines since time immemorial. But long before all that, literature and language – those labyrinths of meaning and feeling that at there best use words to express what can never be expressed through words – were spoken. One of my favourite passtimes is watching audiences at poetry readings, the different looks of listening. Some screw their eyes shut to focus on the words – others watch the reader intently. Still more will gaze at the floor, the ceiling, catch the eyes of fellow audience members in a solidarity of appreciation. I know I employ all three listening techniques during the space of a fifteen minute reading.
The other good thing about readings is exposure to other writing and writers. Theresa Munoz’s poems and mine have shared pages, most recently in New Writing Scotland 30 – but I haven’t met her or heard her read. David Gaffney writes (amongst other things) flash fiction – a form I love to read, combining the eloquence, precision and economy of poetry with the power of story. And all Pete McConville gives away in his bio is that he can speak audibly. I’m sure I will be further enlightened.
This will be the thirteenth Caesura – a spoken word event which has been peppering the bars and cafes of Edinburgh with great writing well read since March last year. Tonight, it rolls into Yellow Bench – a Polish cafe halfway down Leith Walk. I’ll be reading some Lorca poems and a good few Williamsons. I’m confident I’ll come back all the richer for it.