Last Wednesday I had the good fortune to be the rump (no really it’s true) of a party heading from Milton Keynes to The Albion (via supper with Oxford-centred writing chums) for a poetry reading by Wendy Klein and Dorothy Yamamoto. And I’ve been meaning to jot down some thoughts about it for nearly a week. Where does the time go? Oh, yes … marking. Again.
First off I must mention the kindness of Dennis Harrison who very kindly turned his ‘closed’ sign to ‘open’ for an early bird and made me welcome with jazz and Bach on the piano, which seems to treble as sales point and bar.
Next I will mention how very good the reading was. Both poets revel in a mixed heritage which gives each an interesting perspective on the way their respective worlds work. They read separately and they read together. They like to read together and do it as often as plausible. They like to vary their double act as much as they can. One or two poems not yet collected were shared with us.
Dorothy Yamamoto is published by Blinking Eye and her collection is called ‘Landscape with a Hundred Bridges’. She has a very spare, direct Japanese soul cut with plenty of western wit. The combination is unusual. Her poems often start out in a direction you think you recognise and understand and then veer off and end up somewhere different – often with a chuckle attached.
Wendy Klein is published by Cinnamon Press and her latest collection is called ‘Anything in Turquoise’. Her background is American Jewish on one side. And her style derives from that side of her ancestry. There are many words. Even when the poem is actually shorter than one of Dorothy’s, one still feels there are more words in it. She tells stories, she can’t help it – everything is a story. And as poetry is, in a way, ‘long story short’ (as the saying is), she’s found the ideal medium.
So when they read together you’d wonder where the commonality could possibly be – and yet each poem dovetailed into the other marvellously.
An evening greater than the sum of its two parts. And there was wine. And music (the piano needs tuning, Dennis …)
And I’m enjoying both collections all the more for having heard extracts first read at the glorious Albion.