Saturday, 8 November 2008

The amazing world of the Labyrinth Poets

In Cafe´ Kafka where the clock in the bar is permanently showing five-to-twelve Poet-in-Residence joined the Labyrinth Poets (link in sidebar). Over 60 people packed themselves into the small room. Late arrivals were forced to sit on the floor and stand in the corners. It all began with a pretty girl and a poem in Finnish; a poem about geese, birdsong and warm mud. Next, an enthusiastic Colorado poetess with an Obama t-shirt gave the audience her take on the financial crisis. A Maoist-style rapper then treated the room to his 'beat and loop'. A poetess from Bucharest stepped-up to read her untitled poems on 'rumours of revolution' 'green bananas' and 'standing in line' in both Rumanian and English. A man called Shakespeare read some stuff. Labyrinth's founder Peter Waugh wowed the audience with a poem without words, a 'sound' poem. A youth from the band 'The Merry Virgins' recited something about an umbrella and a bloodthirsty vampire in German. Someone with his own sound-effects produced a 'jazz poem'; a kind of howling to Malcolm X it seemed to be. There was some talk of a $100 bet, made 6 months ago, that Obama would win the US election. Felix Mendelssohn recited an haiku about the new President-elect. 'From memory,' he joked following in the wake of an Irish poet named McCartney; a man who had obviously kissed the Blarney Stone and had the wonderful ability to recall a drunken ode he had composed a few years ago on a midnight spree in the Austrian capital. The efficient Evelyn Holloway, ubiquitous with a clutch of papers and her busy pen, kept the evening's bardic business in perfect order; and even found a moment to recite a lovely poem about the Cornish town of St. Ives; but in Denglish a spicy Sprache that is a mulligatawny of English und Deutsch. It contained the lovely line 'I found God in my handbag'. It went on and on. After the midnight hour Poet-in-Residence bid fond farewells to his new bardic friends and hurried away into the night; and into the last tram.
Of course the above is only a small sample of what went on. It was all a crazy wonderful mixed-up directionless labyrinthian beer-flowing poetic and suitably Kafkaesque experience. And what's more, in this place of all places, the events of the Nazi Kristallnacht, 'the night of the broken windows' to coin the trite phrase of the time, exactly 90 years ago, were on this evening recalled; and recalled without the usual political footle and foozle, but with bare faced poetic integrity and power. A bardic night to remember. A great pleasure to have been there.


  1. Sounds more fun than a lot of English speaking poetic gatherings in England!

    I was going to ask: was that the Felix Mendelssohn who appeared in the 1969 Children of Albion anthology? But then I searched the net and found the answer for myself.

  2. Felix Mendelssohn has 2 poems in the Labyrinth chapbook titled 'for carlota rokita' ISBN 3-902339-12-3 They are 'The Old Gardener' and 'Deconstruction Site'.
    His thumbnail blurb is: 'Born in London in 1944, living in Vienna since 1975. Teaches at the school of social work and works as a psychoanalyst and group analyst in private practice.'
    Just got in from a Britten / Tchaikovsky concert. Bloody marvellous!

  3. Met Peter Waugh in Romania fairly recently. Do say hello to him for me if you can...

  4. Will do. Hope to see Peter on 5/12 if not before.


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