Last night I went to my very first Pecha Kucha night at Chapter Arts Centre, this time with a poetic twist. I had a really great evening seeing something very different.
What is Pecha Kucha? Coming from the Japanese for 'chit chat', the concept is very simple: it's a night of presentations each consisting of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. As www.pecha-kucha.org teaches us, it was invented in Tokyo in 2003 by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham and has since gone global. While Klein and Dytham devised the night as an innovative way to present new projects without architects droning on for too long, presentations can now be about just about anything, from an artist's latest work to some holiday snaps (although you'd better make them interesting!). The slides change automatically as the presenter talks along with them.
This was the 7th Pecha Kucha night at Chapter, but whereas the others have been open to anything, this was specially organised by Literature Wales to bring together a diverse (in terms of style, theme, age, and experience) range of poets united only by the time-limit and visual accompaniment of their poems. I'd never really seen performance poetry before and I think this was a great introduction as each poet was limited to 6 minutes and 40 seconds and each one was so different that if one person's work didn't appeal to you another would be along soon.
The poets involved were:
- Will Ford - quite a moving reimagining of Oscar Wilde's WWI soldier about to be killed for desertion.
- Clare Potter - an exploration of the power of sounds, some very interesting ideas but quite eccentric.
- Gillian Brightmore - kind of like Twilight set in the dodgy parts of Cardiff, a bit too clichéd and prosaic for my liking, sorry.
- Phillip Gloss - award-winning and you can see why - really interesting marriage of poetry and image, questioning how and what we see and why.
- Jack Pascoe - hilarious - I was giggling throughout his poetic imagining of the carnage Prince Harry's stag do will cause and a woman whose breasts explode.
- Naomi Alderson - really moving exploration of her personal reaction to Fukushima and impressive skill for someone so young.
- Susan Richardson - ecological poetry, nice imagery (in the poems and in the slides) but not the most gripping.
- And finally Mark Blayney, who rather than poetry gave us the inaugural lecture for the MA in Boney M Studies which again had me in stitches, and singing Ra-Ra-Rasputin for the next 24 hours!
So all in all a very interesting night. I'm really looking forward to going to the next one on 24 April to see what the non-poetry version is like. A huge thanks and well done to Mab Jones and her crew at Literature Wales for organising the event. You can find out more about what they're up to at www.literaturewales.org