Poetry Reading as a Gestalt event: Seán Gaffney's Four Suites!
(photo: The peaks of Ushba in the Caucasus, courtesy of Liz Joudro)
The reading organised by GCB on 10 October 2021 was unusual in several respects.
It took place not in a public venue or a bookstore, but on Zoom, a mode of meeting we have had to get used to in this pandemic. And so it enabled participants to gather from places far and wide, Ireland of course, but also England, the US, Norway, Azerbaijan, people whose mother tongue was English, but also French, Polish, Azeri... If we omitted some, please email and and let us know!
The poet's assertion that a poem is read differently by each reader, and understood in ways the poet had not imagined, led to an experiment in which Seán asked participants to volunteer to read one of his poems, from an earlier suite, 'Aspects of Ageing', entitled 'In No Man's Land':
How strange it is how strange this being
Here not there there where I have and would have been at those
Conferences and gatherings collegial meals and evening tête a têtes
Now nor ever again there nor here much longer anyway and
Already dead for some I sense as e-mails criss-crossed cyber space and
Filled my screen with greetings for each other and those
Well-laid plans for meetings and then
Counting off the seatings and the
Limitations of my age and ailments anyway somewhat known it seems
Gently not included and this my after death experience before my
Death’s oblivion and obliviousness the vacuum of our parting
Now already already now in this my no man’s land
The readers produced indeed new versions of the poem, each with their own prosody!
The discussion included questions of styles and of sources of inspiration, but most of all, people connected with the text and each other in a way made possible by art. With their permission, we would like to share some of the participants' comments, and give them the last word, with the hope you will join us in our next event.