To Deal Library last night to attend a performance by the Stubborn Mule Orchestra, a trio of local poets who recently collaborated in the self-publication of a rather good collection of poetry. There was a good turn out for the event, which was held in the gallery, a corner of the building set aside for displays of work by local artists. Gary Studley, a member of Deal Writers as well as SMO, Canterbury Poets, Save As and several other local literary groups, emceed the evening.
First off was Luigi Marchini with three poems from the SMO collection including David (Before Goliath), a poem that effectively distils both the sense of Biblical destiny and the poet’s trepidation at opening the show: - today is that future./I rise to meet it/lyre in one hand/sling in the other.
Chris Hobday then read three of his poems, including the excellent Swamp Work, about the process of writing poetry: With a shovel and a good arm/you can shift the leathery top-slop/and get underneath, like a peat bog. Reminiscent of Seamus Heaney’s Digging, but without the Irish accent.
Then Gary performed his three poems. Of the three, Gary is the more confident performer and his poems are better suited to performance poetry. They are, perhaps, less subtle than those of his two colleagues, but in the delivery they acquired a gutsy passion. The highly personal Dear Grandad, Wish You Were Here is case in point: on the page it seems a peculiar piece; in performance it sparkles.
During the interval, members of the audience were challenged to write a poem of their own, inspired by several ‘unusual’ objects brought along by members of SMO, and quite a number did so. The second half of the evening was then a repeat of the first, with each of the SMO members reading three poems, but it was finished off with poems from the floor.
A good evening of contrasting but always entertaining poetry. Copies of the Stubborn Mule Orchestra collection are available at £4.00 from the following bookshops in Canterbury: Blackwells, Christ Church University Bookshop, Castle Arts Gallery. They are also on sale in Deal (including the public library) or direct from Luigi: firstname.lastname@example.org.