Review of Openned Night

This night was put on for the poet Jerome Rothenberg. At this reading the poets, Martin Dean / Caroline Bergvall / Openned mic (filled by Becky Cremin) and Carol Watts read, amongst others… possibly. Will Rowe had put us in touch with Rothenberg and there was a reading at Birkbeck late in the week. Rothenbergs reading was divided into two sections, an introductory ten minute section followed by a longer thirty minute section in the second half. 

The night was reviewed by the poet Ryan Ormonde on his blog I need some fine words and you need to be nicer On Thursday, October 4, 2007.


Caroline Bergvall at Openned last night

Openned is a group that among other things ’seeks to create flexible spaces for poetry and poetic practitioners by inviting less established and more established writers to read together’. It does this by hosting evenings in the bowels of the Foundry in Old Street. Take a wrong turn and you might walk into the middle of somebody’s sprawling sculptural plaster work, still in progress; retrace your steps and you will find yourself surrounded by mildlypsychedelic canvases in a long, low-lit basement room, suitably scruffy and bohemian, but not so far away from the real world that we can’t hear what sounds like a Lauryn Hill retrospective booming from the speakers in the upstairs bar. JeromeRothenberg seemed quite at home there, stroking his beard and delighting in the sound of his vowels.  

Someone with a more diasporic relationship to herdiphthongs was the French-Norwegian Anglophone, Caroline Bergvall (below). Brilliantly, she had found in the Canterbury tales the exact point in time where the sound of the English language most resembled her own accent. Her joyful reworking of Chaucer, in which she grouped together all his food references, sparkled off her tongue and allowed her to confidently move into a mix of Chaucerian and her own English for her second reading.

It was when Bergvall was commissioned to write a piece in Norwegian for the online poetry journal Nypoesi that she really came up against herlinguistic anxieties, and in doing so created a very moving piece.