Studio Theatre, The Byre Theatre, St Andrews.
7th March 2015
As this is going to be my last review at StAnza this year I would like, first of all, to thank the organisers for making me welcome, for putting up with my being underfoot, and for letting me have a replacement ticket when I lost one. It was great to meet the poets – nice to bump into John Dennison again today and, after eavesdropping on an interview, have a few minutes’ chat with him and learn that, yes, our reviews are read by their subjects – and I made my daughter jealous by tweeting that I had been in the same room as Brynden ‘Blackfish’ Tully. Well, that actually means I happened to be in the bar with actor Clive Russell. Anyway…
My last poetry, pie, and Peroni session was a treat. Erin Fornoff, born in North Carolina and now based in Ireland, gave us a shorter and gentler presentation that the preceding ‘Poetry Cafés’, so much so that we were all unsure whether to clap at the end of each poem. To clap is very much a ‘Poetry Café’ thing; not to clap is very much a formal ‘reading’ thing.
Erin has learned to memorize the poetry she presents live, ever since she was due on stage to give a reading, grabbed her notes, and, when she stepped up to the microphone, found that she had picked up someone’s schedules for gym sessions. She gave us a programme of twelve poems in all, not all of which were memorized, it must be said, but all of which were engaging and delightful. They ranged from a tribute to the way people in New Orleans had been through Hurricane Katrina and come back to resume their lives, to the reaction of a Texan removed to Appalachia and seeing snow for the first time. Introducing one about living across the Atlantic, in a strange country, in a cottage miles from anywhere overlooking the Irish Sea, she mentioned that it turned out to be lonely – “Who knew?” I particularly liked the poem ‘My Father is a Skydiver’, in which she described her father’s growing old as ‘becoming less tall’; also ‘Moonshine’, in which she played with the meaning of the word ‘proof’.
Best of all, though, was ‘Opposite of a Thank You’. How to explain it? It was an esprit d’escalier piece, directed at a former mentor, someone who had encouraged her work at college, only to eventually suggest a liaison because he had ‘contacts in the literary world’. I’m glad to say this is available on YouTube, so just go there and search for her name and the title, and enjoy!
Nothing more to say, except perhaps we could have done with a couple more poems from her – as I said, the session seemed to be over in a trice. Identical to a thank you Erin, and identical to a thank you StAnza.
Review by Paul Thompson