My Top Five Strange Poetry Readings | Alistair Noon

From the series ‘Sketches for Summer’ by Andrew Hirst

5  In a working Alpine farm hut at an altitude of 2,200m. The audience (five culture/outside human contact-starved summer farm workers) sat round the huge cheese-making tub.

4  The gig where 6 people turned up – me, the four other readers, and a mate of mine. Not even the organizer was there – a certain “Boris” who none of us, it emerged, had actually met. There was a bar nearby.

3  On a pleasure boat going down the Spree in Berlin. I was reading water-themed poems through the boat’s megaphone. Just as I was reading a line about coming out into the light or something, we passed under a bridge, and came out into the light.

2  As a sound poet in the late nineties, doing a festival in Bordeaux. Halfway through my set a guy started, and kept on, heckling me. The guy seemed to be complaining that (a) my extended vocal technique-based sound poems were a heap of shit and (b) I was going on too long and was eating into his time. My French mates yelled “Continu, Alistair!” The guy stormed off, didn’t do his set, and started clearing away his other contribution to the festival – an installation composed entirely of (very artfully arranged) potatoes.

1  Recently, a dance/poetry collaboration without prior rehearsals/coordination. A Turkish poet read a long poem about police torture. This was followed by a pair doing the cha-cha.

Alistair Noon

Written in response to Tom Chivers. Alistair Noon’s Longbarrow Press pamphlets Across the Water, Animals and Places and Swamp Area are available to buy here.  To listen to a selection of Alistair Noon’s poems (set and recorded in Berlin) click here. Earth Records (his first full-length collection) is available from Nine Arches Press.

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