Last Saturday, after six months where the only poetry gigs I’ve done have been online via Zoom, I got back up on a stage in front of an audience who were – unbelievably – in the same room. Dear reader, it was wonderful. And odd.
The gig was part of the Ironbridge Festival of the Imagination. Myself, fellow pandemonialists Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse, and last year’s Ironbridge Slam winner Nick Degg, all performing on a stage in a courtyard on a late summer evening. Would we remember how to be performance poets, after all this time? Would the audience remember how to be an audience? Would it work?
It did. Yes, social distancing meant the front row of the audience was four metres away, and individual audience members were sat well away from each other, but it felt good to be back behind a mic. Good to hear applause, and laughter. Good to catch up with friends. Good to travel in anticipation. Good to drive home re-living the night.
Hopefully there’ll be more live gigs. But for now, it’s back to the world of Zoom. I’m taking part in the Quiet Compere event this evening, on Saturday afternoon I join John Sevigny and Teresa Paker for an online discussion about surviving as an artist, and on Sunday I’ll be talking about poetry, politics, and protest with the International Conference on Poetry Studies. Which means it’s time to draw this blog to a close and get those planned. Cyberworld is waiting. It’s just like riding a bike.