Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Incandescent: September Meeting

Our Incandescent: 16th September Meeting details at Cardiff Central Library.

For all of you who enjoy sharing published poetry with others. All welcome - bring along your favourite poem or pick up a poem from the library and join in! Just come along!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Listening, Reading Aloud, Writing & 'True Things About Me'

After a soothing session at the spa I was making my way across town to catch the number 17 bus. Thought I’d do my usual wander vaguely around Waterstones bookshop. For some reason it seems to do me good browsing books and items of stationary I believe I may own one day. I arrived at the door to hear chattering people and clinking glasses. The Waterstone’s girl tells me there is an event on tonight, Deborah Kay Davies reading from her new book. I remember I had heard that she had won Wales Book Of The Year Prize last year, but I had never read any of her books. Intrigued I thought I would stay.

Chairs overflowing, sparkling water and wine consumed, I sat quietly at the back. Deborah Kay Davies began reading from a couple of chapters of ‘True Things About Me’. The room fell silent as her clearly crafted words fell effortlessly off the page and in to the audience. A collective listening to mint leaves, a father making his daughter comfortable with a cushion, the fabricated boyfriend and wild-eyed children who loved the dentist. The author’s reading brought to life the very humanity of her characters. Her down to earth and humorous delivery were warming.


For those twenty minutes I was absorbed in her words, the story I had stumbled upon as I was walking home. There’s something about collective listening that brings us together, helps us to switch off from our own concerns and immerse ourselves in another’s life; in this case a woman trying to deal with her feelings after an unexpected sexual encounter. Yes, we still have thoughts about our own lives, but maybe from a new perspective. If I had not heard those chapters spoken I doubt I would ever sit down to read the book, which I now intend to do. I enjoy hearing stories but at times I struggle with sitting still and reading from a book alone. But through listening, I wanted to learn more about the book’s protagonist and her world.

This is the concept behind the groups that are springing up over the country that The Reader Organisation is terming ‘The Reading Revolution’. A group I run called Incandescent is one. Based in a meeting room at Cardiff Central Library, Incandescent provides space for those who enjoy the sound of the spoken word of poetry, through reading aloud and listening. People bring poems they enjoy from modern to old and spend time sharing and discussing. There is something healing about the activity of collective listening that occurs here monthly and in Waterstones tonight. One leaves a calmer, more whole person, having been returned to the root of being through listening to literature and sharing the experience with others.

Listening to Deborah Kay Davies also gave insight to another preoccupation. As an individual who writes, a number of questions on how to write had disturbed my flow for over a year. The past few days I had read Honest Speaks post, 'Writing- am I getting it right?', which voiced many of my own concerns. As I sit in Waterstones an audience member asked ‘Was writing to a deadline hard?’ The author said that as the deadline loomed she had to write 100 pages in 11 days. For a writer who usually takes her time between writing periods, this was an immense task in hand. But she worked 9 till 4 those final days and said ‘When you sit down and do the writing. You’ll do the writing you need to do’. Just write.

When asked whether she ever wrote outside her comfort zone she responded ‘I feel I can write anything I am comfortable to write’. If there's something you feel family, friends may judge ‘don’t let it (their opinions) enter your head’. Just write.


In combination with Honest’s post and Deborah Kay Davies’s advice, I have come face to face with my doubts on how to write. As I begin to sort a lifetime’s writing, sitting in a big crate in my lounge, maybe words will start to flow again. It seems when you ask the bigger questions in life sometimes the answers appear on the most unexpected of ways. I guess the fact I am writing this, part of me has faith I still can.

01.19.10 / Photograph sourced from The Guardian