Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ranjit's reading

Ranjit was supposed to Meet The Press at half past five. Like the unpunctual idiot that I am, I brushed aside his pathetic pleas for coffee and we were at the GZ by 5. Yes, I know.

The Press - such as they are - didn't show. Two young men from some channel did, but apparently waiting is made easier when it's a film star they have to meet. They left without speaking to RH.

Large crowds poured in, however, and the reading went off swimmingly. I humbled Ranjit* with my introduction (he said so), there were approximately 60 people at the reading and nobody asked any spectacularly stupid questions (this, in my personal opinion, is Not a Good Thing. How will we mark our readings except with the questions that are memorably dumb?)

Some people said I looked stunning, others said I looked elegant, yet others remarked upon my glittery footwear. Those who turned up too late for the reading - but just in time for the dinner afterward - asked if I also read my poetry.** One well-known (at least locally and in certain circles) poet/professor languished and flirted and spoke immense quantities of Parsified Gujarati.***

Three of Ranjit's poems were read out in German translation and though I don't know how accurate they were, they sounded fantastic. Swar, you'd have enjoyed it.

In effect, a good time was had by all.

Update: Some of the poems from The Randomiser's Survival Guide can be found here.

* This business of finding out that the most unexpected people - in this instance, Ranjit - read your blog, is unnerving. Especially if one intends to write about them. How much can one say without becoming either self-conscious or garrulous?

** Of course I didn't. I know that much of the contents of the preceding sentences was about ME, Me, Me, Baby, but even so, I wouldn't hijack someone else's reading (just their display table where the books are laid out. )

*** I know better than to mention names now. The last time I did that, it turned out that the gentleman had a Google Alert for his name and once he read the post, he knew who I was and called and I just wanted a ready made hole in the ground to sink into. See [*] above.

Which reminds me, Penguin Man - the Penguin books sales rep - gave us a few anxious half-hours by losing his way in the vicinity of the building in which the GZ is. Some birds, clearly, are never meant to go south in the winter.


kuffir said...

was tied up at work, and feel greatly annoyed with self now. glad you seem to have enjoyed the evening.

dipali said...

Sounds like a great evening, despite the early lack of coffee.
There's something for you on my blog.

Extempore said...

One well-known (at least locally and in certain circles) poet/professor languished and flirted and spoke immense quantities of Parsified Gujarati.

Now why does that sound so very familiar?! :D

Space Bar said...

kuffir: yes, yes - you should have come. i'm sure you'd have caught at least a little bit.

dipali: :D thank you! now i have to pass blogging buddy tag on?!

extempore: i knew you'd recognise the person concerned! there are more stories, but am very sure this is not the place for them. god how i want to gossip! why do we not have angkor wat type secret-holding walls here?

Ludwig said...

apropos of something one caught Ranjit say during the q&a, there was a swipe at a certain specific reading-to-unsuspecting-book-buying-pubic-in-the-aisles poet, no? kinda came out of the blue.

speaking of the blue, i was tempted to ask him to do a "request" reading, repeating something from last year. there's one of his with a frigate that was striking, for some reason. but then got all tongue tied.

"stunning", is it? tsk, tsk. guys these days...

kuffir is in hyderabad? we live and we learn.

and yes, reena mukherjee kaun hai?!

Space Bar said...

Ludwig: you caught that did you? I wanted to die. and what frigate poem? you shoulda asked.

'guys' these days, indeed. :D

Space Bar said...

ludwig: just re-read your comment. not sure it was a swipe at anybody in particular, so much as the separation of performance from reading. Ranjit's point was that such strategies are old hat and one contributes nothing new to poetry-as-performance by doing it today.

That's debatable, of course. Do we necessarily reinvent the wheel by doing something with an audience that hasn't seen anything like it, if we do what's been done before but elsewhere?

Vivek, any thooughts?

equivocal said...


It's hard for me to comment very precisely on an event that I wasn't at (of course that goes for everyone else as well)-- but what exactly was the discussion? From the comments field here I can get no sense at all of what Ranjit said or what he was asked...

To reply to your question, it's true that I wouldn't mind doing something that had been done before, as long as it continued to be meaningful.

At the same time-- perhaps I'm ignorant-- but what I did specifically at the Landmarks, viz. amplified poetry in the aisles of a department store + remote performance (as described in yr comments field), has it been done before, elsewhere? And where has it been done? I'd be very grateful to learn of other practising poets around the world who are working with similar ideas, relating to poetry performance. It would be useful to compare.

Finally, I don't know if I would want to separate poetry from its performance; I don't know if or how that is possible, especially in the case of going to a poetry reading; but unlike svar, I guess I work with a very broad notion of poetry performance-- all that's fundamentally important to me, whether it's an "act" or not, is that the words are clearly enunciated with an awareness of time and rhythm, and that the poet's address is in earnest. Ideally, the poem itself should be equipped to take care of the rest.

So one last note-- the way I work at least, I always start with the text of the poem on the page: that's what I focus on honing and sharpening, and any kind of performance possibility comes after, based on possibilities that I detect in the text that are already there, ie. things that the poem on the page is already saying or, more importantly, doing.

Thus as always with poetry, what matters most of all is the individual words themselves and then, one level further, the utterance.

??! said...

ha! this is why anonymity is one's preferred cloak.

You should also get sicrit blog.

Swar said...

bloody rehearsals have kept me away from blogreadin' after I left those long bleeding comments on your poetry post. Yeahhh, i get carried away.

btw, i have got a german actor to accompany me to all german plays now. hee. you will soon get my reports. i am goin for this HOT IN NEWS german plawright called Marius von Mayenburg .