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Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

Sofa, so good - The Transatlantic Poetry Reading with John Glenday and Dorianne Laux

2012-03-15 Project 365 - Day 15 by RaulLopezPhoto, under a Creative Commons licence

Well, I didn’t completely believe this would happen, but we really are going to be doing our first Transatlantic Poetry Reading. John Glenday’s in the Highlands, Dorianne Laux is in North Carolina, and they’re both going to be reading in the same event on Sunday evening – 8pm, Sunday 26th. And the thing is, wherever you are, you can watch. For free. Without leaving your sofa. Yes: Sunday evening, click the internet icon and there they’ll be.

There are so many elements about this I like. First of all, of course, the poets:  Dorianne Laux has that direct, readable power that makes it pretty much impossible not to become completely absorbed in each poem. We’ve been reading her recent collection The Book of Men (there’s now a subsequent ebook chapbook The Book of Women from Red Dragonfly Press) and going back a little earlier there are other knockout poems like ‘Dust’ or ‘Family Stories’. John Glenday’s is the distinctively, almost hypnotically, beautiful voice of The Apple Ghost and Undark and, most recently, Grain.

The mastermind behind the Transatlantic Poetry Readings is Robert Peake, who is a poet himself as well as somebody who works with information technology. Make or break to the readings, really, is his really impressive process for smoothing out all the potential hitches in advance.  So what you see when you tune in to the readings will be – allowing for whatever the gods of broadband may throw at us – a pretty professional event, with writers feeling as relaxed as possible in what is essentially a whole different kind of public reading environment. 

The live reading is followed by a Q&A. You can type in your questions for the poets at any time during the broadcast by following the on-screen instructions. You will need to be logged in to Google Plus to ask a question, but do not need an account to watch.

The event takes place at 8PM UK time right here.

On the night of the broadcast, a video window will appear on the page. Click the play button to tune in.

My economical little heart is lifted by how this saves on so many things - travel costs and writers’ time and plane fuel and carbon footprints, all excellent economies. But I think the Transatlantic Poetry Readings are already about much more: exploring a different setting for sharing poetry with peers and audience, exploiting the naturally intimate address of poetry, and freeing (but not destroying) the conventions of a public reading where a poet performs their work in front of a roomful of people. The essence of a reading is preserved, and the seating is more comfortable. I’m looking forward to Sunday night.

Oh, one last thing. Outside her home, Dorianna Laux keeps a 'poetry box', which currently has a poem by John Glenday in it. Look!

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