||[Jan. 23rd, 2016|06:25 pm]
Since we were going to Newcastle on Wednesday for an early-evening poetry event, we took the opportunity to visit the 'The Arts & Crafts House: Then and Now' exhibition at the Laing. I'd heard good things about it, but was underwhelmed: blame some of this on my eyesight, which is currently making it difficult to see detailed books in glass cases, or architectural prints on walls. Also my resistance to shows which bring together classic instances of something and modern examples in the same tradition: I am always liable to respond that the original is better, by a mile. Some examples of modern craft tools and artisan ceramics were attractive enough, but I completely failed to see the point of Rosa Nguyen's contribution. What I learned from this exhibition: there are a number of Arts & Crafts houses in the care of the National Trust which I have not seen, and I should plan a holiday in England to remedy this.
The poetry reading - the launch of Lisa Matthews's The Eternally Packed Suitcase was just across the road at the City Library, and our plan was to fill the time between the Laing closing and the event starting with a cup of tea and the crossword at the library café. This wasn't quite as neat as I'd thought, because the event wasn't, as I had (mis)remembered it, 6 o' clock for 6.30, but 6.30 for 7.00; still, I was less inconvenienced by misjudged timing than the organisers, who had apparently planned a reading to run from 7 until 9 o' clock, not realising that the library closed at 8, and we'd have to be out by then.
So the reading was short, but good. Lisa's poems are deceptive, they look as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, no fancy vocabulary, simple narratives (she did this, I saw that) that drop you into something unexpected. She doesn't use elaborate forms, but then you open the book at a prose poem, a little block of text looking across the gutter at a page of short-lines, singly or in pairs or longer stanzas. I can't quote examples, I want to quote whole poems. Here's one I prepared earlier (which is included in the new collection).
We'd assumed that the reading would drift on into the evening, and we'd linger and talk to people, then wander off and find something to eat - and that would be Wednesday evening gone, we'd just have to miss the pub quiz at which we have become regulars. But given the 8 o' clock curfew, we decided that rather than join the general move to the Tyneside Cinema Café, we had time to go home and go to the quiz after all. So we did.
It's not so much that we have a busy social life (though things are beginning to wake up after the midwinter break, there's that, I suppose) ao much as that the things that do happen, happen at the same time. As if to prove a point, while I took a break from writing this to make a pot of tea, durham_rambler took a phone call - as a result of which he has driven off to Tyneside to collect a friend from hospital (they were willing to send her home, but didn't have an ambulance free). He is confident that there will be time to do this and still be in time for our dinner date in Sunderland (with my cousins who are making their annual visit to the Stadium of Light). I'm less confident, but it can't be helped, we'll get there when we get there.