Actually, the reading turned out to be very positive. I didn't read well - I mean, it was beyond doubt in my own mind that I wasn't projecting well, and interrupted my own rhythm at a couple of points, but it was pointed out constructively by someone else as well, so not just my own opinion - yet there was good feedback on the poetry itself, which is more important to me to be honest. There were other supportive comments about my reading, and a nice chat about the act of reading in general (even people I see as far-ahead stars still suffer nerves and crises of confidence. We know this, and yet we forget it sometimes, especially when we compare ourselves to others). I read first, which was a big help (especially because that's how I'd visualised it happening), so then I could sit back down as soon as possible and enjoy the other readers, who were great (still can't believe I had my name anywhere near theirs on the same bill... I know that's no measure of me, or my work, but it still feels amazing). At first, I tried not to buy everybody's books (just because of the finances), but everyone moved me to the extent that I felt I had to have their works to peruse fully, which shows their high quality.
I'm really excited to get stuck into Linda Kemp's Lease Prise Redux, after having read extracts and, of course, enjoyed her performance. I think it's really important work, very sharp. Also to be enjoyed are Steve McCaffery's Certain Words, and Karen Mac Cormack's Rechelesse Pratticque, the readings from which I liked, too. Steve's felt more like a prose-collage poem, large and arresting in its being, but in Karen's I got the sense of smaller, more discrete pieces, with surprising twists in her delivery from one to another.
Afterwards, though, I felt a big change. Part of my worry leading up to the event was that some of my work didn't feel 'experimental enough' (to put it politely), and some of my more directly political pieces, I thought, were tending to less-substantial 'preach poetry' (and even though I've been told that I needn't worry about this, it's hard not to...). There's a time and place for that kind of work, and many people working wonders in [politically-based] performance poetry. I thought that I may have moved into that area because of what I'd recently read, but, thinking about it some more, saw through to what I think is perhaps a more core reason. I'm more and more 'down' about the world situation (more fearful, more angry, more ashamed, more disheartened...). I think that maybe some of these more 'performancey' pieces came out at this time because I want to address this, but even my best attempts feel shockingly ineffectual. Though I don't feel that all poetry is 'political' (or, rather, the main focus can be something else), and that in theory I should be able to 'just write about something else', I feel despondent and want to move on.
To be clear, even though the reading ended as a genuinely positive experience, the pervasive negativity in the world that I feel steeped in makes me want to stop writing poetry (for the time being at least). I was thinking about starting back up with an old novel of mine (started it last year, reached 39,512 words [including title], then started a job that hindered creativity for me) which, ostensibly, is a bit of silliness, but it was a good challenge, and a welcome distraction from what was going on at the time. I still want to read poetry, and I know that I'll still think 'poetic thoughts' - might even still put some of it down in words (or whatever else) - but, at the very least, my focus is moving on [to sorting out my life, hopefully]. In some ways, I'm only saying that I'm not going to 'try and force it' - which isn't really a readily recommended technique anyway - but I feel it's a tadge more nuanced than that.
[I was going to ruminate a bit on readings in general, too - some of those that have 'shut their doors', some that are still going, and some that have started up - along with a load of other personal, rambling garbage. I think, though, that this should end here, and I'll maybe put all that in another post, to possibly come out next year some time :P ]