Last week Charles Bernstein read downstairs at The Foundry
on Old Street, a bar still in mid-decoration flux since we first
went there six years ago. Outside in the mid-May sunshine
sat the Shoreditch flakes - smoking, drinking - not talking but
looking good in pink shirts & overszied shades. Bernstein reading
here excited me because the carousel can run the cut-up shop.
It really worked : inquisitive, alert, the fashion-conscious breezed
in with little pre-thought for poetry - pints pinned with bubbles -
and then back out again. But some stayed to listen until the end.
Bernstein provoked, entertained, like a Larry David alert to his
ironies. His poems looped with echo, cadence, repetition, chiasmus -
unlike much 'experimental' poetry, not cold & not closed. Leaving
just before the end I went into the toilets before I took the bus
and train out east - the walls graffitoed in Boosh-doodles. Pissing
I read an exchange before fours pens, on the wall over the urinal:
PEN 1: Middle-classes fuck-off back to Mummsy & Daddy
PEN 2: Working-classes fuck-off back to the coal-pits
PEN 3: Upper-classes fuck-off back to Monaco
PEN 4: WHAT THE FUCK....WHERE'S EVERYONE GONE?