This is not a public service announcement to raise awareness of the fact that Tib Lane is not Tib Street, and that, indeed, they are actually quite far apart, but if it was, I'd probably repeat the message over and over again until it got annoying. You see, there are some unfortunate people who, when going to Manchester, confuse these two places and, in trying to find their way around the big ol' city, end up being late for the event they travelled there for. But this is not about people mixing up Tib Lane and Tib Street - which, by the way, are different places, and have different Taverns on them - this is about Peter Barlow's Cigarette #26, and my musings upon it.
Unfortunately, for reasons I won't go into that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with me being an idiot and getting confused between Tib Lane and Tib Street, I only caught the tail end of
Zayneb Allak. I was disappointed here, because I was looking forward to hearing her, and what I perceived would be her 'worldly writing'. She genuinely got a great applause, tho, which is a true endorsement.
James Byrne is a man who'd never get mixed up with Lanes and Streets, of a Tib-ish nature or otherwise. I'd seen him before at a few other groovy events, and he's always good as a writer and performer. He brought a lot of heavier flavours into his stuff this time, but always kept a quality of air (I don't mean that like 'full of nothing', but I mean an approachable fluviality. To translate further - it brought up serious themes and yet was enjoyable. Okay? You broke me down. Are you happy now, now that you've cracked the code?). As an example, he read out a piece about 'hash', which was a 'meditation' on the word and its origins, marrying drugs and corned beef in an important and effective way. There were other such 'trees', where the root of the poem was a particularly poignant word, upon which the rest was built. Right up my alley!
Caitlin Doherty was amazing. Again, a great performer, as well as her work being funny, cleanly witty ['clean' here meaning with a sense of linguistically hygienic sharpness. And 'not dirty'...], experimental, and - so I assume based on her performance of her content - formally exciting. I so enjoyed it, and haven't felt a buzz like that since seeing Jazmine Linklater for the first time. She read out some stuff that hadn't been published yet (can't remember who's going to publish it :( ), and, as I was just saying to a friend the other day, this creates a buzzing atmosphere, and I feel so lucky to be there. I just tried to splurge on some of Caitlin's works, but Satellites and one of her appearances in Salvage have sold out (China Mieville's article being credited for the first)! Couldn't find anything on eBay or anything, but I did order Salvage Issue #2: Awaiting the Furies and Our Party, so I'm excited for those to arrive.
What can I say about Peter Manson? His work was dripping in wit. He's a man not afraid to roll around in the cheeky dirt, and he had everyone laughing with his 'corporeal content'. Hats off to him especially for his reading from Poems of Frank Rupture. He read a piece from that, which he called a 'long skidmark of a poem', and even just to read it required such power and stamina, because of the long flurry of language (so much of that of high syllabic content). You felt the audience's breathing change - sometimes holding their breath, gasping a little, laughing too - as he rattled through his big beastie. The humour here was essentially very playful, and I'd say he's a brilliant example of someone who loves language and has sharp ears and eyes. I remember, apart from certain sexy references, 'song title mondegreens', which, I don't know, sort of felt akin to punctuation to me, but more for how I heard the poem, rather than how you'd probably see it on the page.
As I went away from the reading, I thought about the diversity of styles and subjects it represented. Byrne's poetry simulated thoughts about person and place, the politics of invasion and deprivation, foreign locations, but border-crossing themes. Caitlin's, while often amusing, seemed to be exploring a more abstract malaise, not so much pointing to causes, but I was certainly stimulated to think about, for example, male behaviours in everyday life. Mason's was possibly more 'purely linguistic' (I'm not qualified to say, really), and not the less intellectual for it's ludicity. I never know what the mix of styles will be like when I go to these events, and it's always a pleasant surprise.
I also want to point out that, since I was last at a PBC event, there's been an exciting change to the bookstall. Now, they are producing wee pamphlets with work by all the readers on the day, so you get a bit of work by each of them. The ones I got were £2 each, or three for £5 (which I think's nothing, when you enjoy it so much), and the money goes towards performers' travel costs etc. Wonderful idea!
By the way, just before I go, did you know that Tib Lane is NOT, in fact, Tib Street?
Peace, love, and light! x