Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tina at Russkiy Mir: Photos

Tina at Russkiy Mir: Videos

                                         Tina reading Dragons of the Pool

                                        Tina reads Jam on the Butter Knife & Class Reunion

Alex Metslov interviews Tina

Tina reads Aftermath and Adladd

Monday, 13 August 2012

Tina at Russkiy Mir

Just a reminder that Tina will be reading in London this Friday, 17th August:

"In close association with Russkiy Mir, Gruntlers' Theatre is proud to host an evening with the poetess Ms. Tina Warren. Known for her evocations of female consciousness, not to mention Tina's sense of time and place, this reading will introduce the full range of her exploratory work to our London audience."

Venue: Russkiy Mir Bookshop
             20 Goodge Street, W1T 2PL London

Time:   18:00 until 19:30

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Poetic Appearance

Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

These, as everyone knows, are the final lines of Kubla Khan and perhaps Coleridge’s dramatic idealised description of what a poet might look like.  I was standing with a colleague in an office window looking out one day onto a side street in Aberystwyth and I spotted one of my fellow poets from the Word Distillery.  “Ah, there’s one of our poets,” says I.  To which my colleague replied, “Really, you wouldn’t know.”  Clearly this particular poet didn’t live up to her idea of what a poet should/ would look like.  Hilaire also tells a similar story pertaining to myself.  When she mentioned me as a poet to a mutual acquaintance – someone I had known for many years but who didn’t know I wrote poetry – the reply was: “But he just looks like an ordinary person!”  

It’s a sad fact to me that we live in an age when presentation has it almost every time over substance.  Talentless people are increasingly becoming famous for being famous, often because they‘ look’ as though they’ve got talent, which usually means they’re easy on the eye, the camera loves them.  It’s quite ludicrous of course to expect that the beauty and vision any human mind is capable of creating and expressing could possibly be reflected in its physical nest.  The mind may have virtual appearance via its expositions but that’s all it can aspire to.  It exists dimensionless and totally unrelated to physical appearance.

Coleridge, besides being a fine poet, was a great orator and literary critique. But on my study wall to the right of my desk I have a large lithograph of him in his mid fifties and there is no way I can see a wonderfully creative incisive mind reflected in the face of an overweight, cherub cheeked, squat little man who is greying faster than his years.  He looks jolly, not deep. And you can bet that the portrait flatters him. As a young man we do see him with long black locks but there is nothing exceptional about his ‘ordinary’ face.  The eyes do not flash – unlikely considering the amount of laudanum he was daily consuming. 

Byron and Shelly of course, with their early nineteenth century film star looks (if you’ll forgive the anachronism of a twentieth century concept), I suppose go some way towards wearing a marketable muse on their sleeves, Rupert Brook comes to mind too.  But they are exceptions and no way the best of poets.  Certainly not in Coleridge’s league.  Your Larkins, Hopkins, Eliots, Plaths, Tennysons, Masefields, Duffys, Drydens . . . are all ‘ordinary’ looking people, less than ordinary in some cases.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning was mousy and plain – from all the pictures I’ve seen of her she doesn’t look as though she’s got an iambic pentameter in her. George Mackay Brown and WH Auden were fine poets but ugly men who wouldn’t look out of place as bookie’s runners or bagmen.  Pope was only four and a half feet tall and Dylan Thomas had a certain cartoon character look about him – did that slapstick face really write – ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’! 

No one would have looked twice at any of them in the street.  There was nothing which might suggest they had any sort of talent, and certainly no indication of those exceptionally rare minds within.  And yet it appears that there is an ideal in the public’s perception of what a poet should look like – there is an ultimate poet.   Dare I suggest - moody, unapproachable, slightly mad, prone to fits of depression or paranoia, bad social manners, rude due to poor people skills, opinionated - probably left wing, unkempt, little sartorial sense, heavy drinker . . .  Blimey,  I’ve just described Will Self.

Nigel Humphreys