Dr. Alex Runchman (TCD) Reviews the Performing Poetry Project

The young Ezra Pound – precocious, bohemian, irate – might have enjoyed reading in the Georgian settings of the James Joyce Centre. Resembling a patron’s living room, and soaked in dewy light, the museum’s second floor gallery lent an air of sophistication to the first event of the Performing Poetry Project. The provision of mushroom risotto and homebrewed cider added to the refinement, while the sense of occasion was further heightened by the ticketed invites and impressive turn-out: for a performance by three as yet largely unheralded poets and a small trad-folk-jazz outfit, the fifty-odd in attendance amounted to a smash.

The Performing Poetry Project is a wonderful enterprise. Dublin’s poets – and audiences for poetry – need the kind of forum that Jonathan Creasy and Eimear Fallon are striving to create, one which embraces experimentation, encourages writers to showcase their work, and insists that poets do not need to choose between the torpor of the institution and the anything-goes raving that constitutes your best chance of winning at your average poetry slam. By taking both the writerly and performative aspects of poetry seriously, PPP is embracing the possibility of bridging divisions between the academy and a wider public. And, as Creasy reminded us at the start (in the words of Thelonius Monk), ‘If you can’t hear it there ain’t no use telling anyone about it’