Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips is in my mind as I look out at the rain this morning. I wanted to start with the midnight train to Brighton last night, but that's the power of a famous title, it led me into that soulful refrain.

It's almost always interesting, that Brighton train - it has two destinations and divides at Haywards Heath, it's also the one that takes us all home after a night out. Some stagger on and fall asleep, risking ending up at the end of the line in Worthing or Eastbourne, serious penance for a few post work drinks. Some stagger on and chatter.

It was the chattering type who found me wide awake and still buzzing from reading at the Troubadour in Earls Court, a Coffee Poetry night organised by Anne Marie Fyfe that featured the astonishing US poet CK Williams, promoting his hefty Collected Poems, a sharp and witty Roz Goddard from Birmingham, reading from her great book, How to Dismantle a Hotel Room, and another American, Janice Moore Fuller, reading from her third book of gentle and humane poems, Seance.

And it was Seance that this chattering young man picked up off the table as he dropped into the seat opposite me. One of the more delightful conventions at poetry readings is the swapping of books, so I had Janice's and Roz's out of my bag and was looking back over poems I'd heard them deliver, discovering others and generally enjoying a post reading high - compensation for a day hoovering and cleaning the loo.

Oh, we talked about upholstery, job satisfaction and happiness and he liked Janice's poems. I was his second target. The first was a young woman on the other side of the corridor, working away at a project on Parnell, who looked at me nervously a few times as he tried to persuade her that history was taught wrong. But I just want to get to university, she said......As these things go, he lost the thread and after me he staggered down the carriage to start up a third conversation. I wonder how many of these fractured meetings took place last night. He seemed lost in his drunkenness, but I guess that's better than aggression.

The Troubadour was a gathering of very different styles and run with the generous, efficient spirit of Anne Marie and her husband Cahal Dallat. Both of them are good poets, kind people and Cahal is also a fine accordianist, who played us into both halves of the night.