Thursday, 14 June 2007

Naked Lunch Open Mike

Welcome to Carnival, a colourful little bar with collage walls in reds, and greens, and blues.
Stumble in, bashfully, past the various faces who lurk by candlelight waiting for naked lunch to start.
But, despite the name, Naked lunch is not some sordid afternoon debauchery but a wonderful amalgamation of poetry and music, mixed together to keep you constantly in a dreamy euphoria with no time for brain freeze or boredom.

When the open mike started we made our way down the back of the room frozen at thought of our names being called out. Poet after poet dropped beautiful bombshells, musicians ached missiles and we lay in the debris with grins on our faces feeling a little better off for all of it.

Living in England among publishers I still manage to get in my dose of poetry, reading books in my small attic room to avoid the big brother hysteria below (dear terrorists please send some anthrax their way, or better yet make it a flour bomb, or some coke and saw dust, let them be soap); but something was missing, there were no voices.

When I visited ailbhe in London I demanded poetry read out loud, she lied and said she had none….I told her I wanted lions in the living room so she sat me by her computer with john and a poetry Ireland cd and let me listen to some audio files while she and gareth got drunk on stories outside. And in wexford last weekend I joined the boys who were hiding from the sunshine with their beers, and produced my lions and told them they had to read to me. So Sean took on the role, begrudgingly, and I sat there grinning as lions ate my soul for decades. Mark read us into a Norwegian depression and finally I read to them from "couplet" about fingerprint on pillow cases.

It was the accents that made the naked lunch experience so wonderful, the country poet who wrote about a girl with a face like a whore, the American who made me feel like my brain was tripping all over the gaf and the beautiful dubs, wonderfully mispronouncing words, dropping letters and giving them all the more character.

I miss Dublin and it's voices and it's cruel sense of humour. I miss the political incorrectness, giggling over things we shouldn't and insulting each other in new and inventive ways. In Wexford I was shocked to silence when I teased darran and he replied in his quiet and polite manner "you know clodagh, some people might say it's rather needy of you to come all the way from England to spend a weekend with people who don't really like you" then his voice took on a puzzled tone and he continued "do you think you're still part of the gang after a years absence". It shocked me to hear lovely old darran turn mean, but the weekend got meaner still with mark dubbing it "freak out clodagh weekend" and Stephen making inverted comas in the air everytime I used the word "friend". And Stephen's lovely sarcy dub accent dripped venom anytime someone mentioned books or poetry "you got an English degree yeah, you went to college".

But still my friends who hate me and tell me so in the most wonderful accents took me to a bar where Aoife Mannix, the featured poet of the night, cut out words with her beautiful dub voice, hanging up all her animals and letting them dance within this carnival. I sat on a high seat like a child, grinning away in my multi-coloured dress listening to her weave clothes from everyday things and torture her young brother though he sat fully grown in the audience. After 12 years of living in London she retained all her Dublin charms.

I walked back to town with Tim Costello and Kevin Desmond who talked a mile a minute about poetry and how to make it, and how ailbhe and I are his flipside, irish poets moving to England. And he tells me that we have talent and we are pretty enough to be poets which makes me laugh a lot and remember poor Stephen- the boy child who in trying to compliment me one day informed me that I was pretty and smart enough to be a poets wife. Kevin goes on and on about photographs and videoing readings and the importance of live audio. He says that the monster truck montage of readings was spliced in such a way to take the word "fuck" out of ailbhes poem but that it's spirit hung there, the residue of removed obsenities still hanging visibly in the spirit of omitted words. And he speaks with such energy about writing switching from thought to thought with very little to connect the strands together. When I leave (something I regret doing) and insist on getting Tim email address, he informs Tim that this is what ailbhe and I do- collect people for our galleries but then never return.

And he is right in a way, but it is not people we collect but experiences and to return to such things, to relive a perfect memory can often make it imperfect, tarnishing the original, it is holding onto something that is no longer there, living life like a tape stuck in a loop. We went to the monster truck gallery, once, and never returned- but we will do again, just not so often that it becomes stale for us. If I had not agreed to meet non-poets today I would be out there peopling my gallery with more carnival animals, cutting voices and lyrical unfinished words.

Naked Lunch Open Mike take place every Wednesday from 8pm upstairs @ Carnival on Wexford St., Dublin 2.
more details can be found on their myspace