Wednesday 30 October 2013

Tasting Notes and StAnza at the St Andrews Food and Drink Festival

I'm really looking forward to my next reading in St Andrews on 15th November. Here's the background to the event, taken from the St Andrews Food and Drink Festival website:

"Working with StAnza, Matthew Stewart, exporter and blender for the Spanish cooperative Viñaoliva, leads a guided tasting and talks about the blender’s art. Matthew is also a poet – his entertaining Tasting Notes were published by Fife’s HappenStance Press in 2012. There will be time for interaction and questions, as he introduces the wine of poetry, and the poetry of wine.  Guests will have the chance to taste four Zaleo wines (Pardina 2012, Rosado 2012, Tempranillo 2012 and Premium 2010) and food pairings of ham, bread and Spanish cheese."

£7.50 or £5.00 conc.
[To include tasting, copy of Tasting Notes, and tapas.]

Booking link -

If you're in the area, what could be better than four glasses of wine, a poetry pamphlet and gorgeous tapas alongside, all for less than a tenner? I hope to see you there!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Half a comma

I've always been intrigued by the way poets deal with line breaks when giving a reading. Many skip them entirely, often arguing that they are purely a effect to be seen on a page. However, such a view undermines the necessary marrying of content and form, of the aural and the visual. It implicitly lends weight to the school of "chopped-up prose".

Nevertheless, opposing techniques don't convince me either. One such example was a reading by the renowned Spanish poet Jorge Riechmann in Badajoz a few years ago. He placed such an emphasis on his line breaks, marking them with such deliberation, that all flow was lost. Artifice took over.

So, all of the above begs the question: how do I deal with line breaks myself? Well, I refuse to ignore them. What's more, if I want my reader to notice a slight hiatus on the page, I'd also like my audience to feel that same slight pause. My best stab at an explanation would be that I treat a line break as half a comma. That's not a rule. It's not a norm. It's simply the way I imagine my poem being read aloud while I write it, and it's a fundamental part of the music I try to convey when standing up in front of a microphone.