Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel takes place in the sort of space you half-expect a poet to shack up in: somehow dark and yet fiercely coloured; a rackety typewriter in one corner and a suitcase ready to go in the other; untidy and as crammed with interesting things as you’d hope the poet’s mind is.
The set-up is simple. Poet Ryan Van Winkle invites you into his blood-red room, and, after making you a cup of tea, asks you to pick an envelope from a choice of four. The poems he will perform over the next 20 minutes are contained within those envelopes, your selection determining the show.
Ryan tells you it’s fine to explore the room, lie out on the bed provided, to pick up the knick-knacks lining the shelves. But I sat rooted on the edge of the bed as he began to read a quartet of poems. The word intimate is practically a one-word cliché – but in this instance, it fits. Sat inches from the poet, cup of tea in my hand, I didn’t feel uncomfortable. Quite the opposite. I began to think all poetry events should be like this. Something like a confessional with jammy dodgers thrown in, or visiting a friend who is as wise as he is messy.
Ryan’s poems were wistful, humorous, bruised, and delivered at such proximity, you got every shade of meaning. This is a hi-def performance, 3D poetry. Depending on the poem being recited, the space summoned up what it was like to live in a grimy garret or share a childhood tent. The room was both red and read.
After this, any poetry reading with more than three people is going to be a disappointment.
Continues until 24 August.