I love Mark Doty’s poems but had never seen him in person before or been to the Troubadour. The art cafe in Old Brompton Road is not only famous for art, music, and poetry events but by the look of the food, the menu too. It has a delightful atmosphere with two bar areas, a garden and a poetry venue resembling a sort of cave in the basement.
Mark Doty was apparently trapped in a tube tunnel just before Earls Court so was a bit late, but a charming singing and guitar duo gamely did some of their set earlier than planned, Bernadette Reed offering some heart-felt lyrics accompanied by guitar.
When the great man did arrive what a treat we were in for. He started with a poem inspired by sitting in an art gallery on the afternoon it was shut to the public and writing poetry. He had not always appreciated modern art but apparently surrounded by, I think it was Pollark, he felt the art work had a spiritual dimension like a prayer.
He speaks quite quickly, reading from one of those digital tablets. The way he flicked from one thing to another then back again, I wondered if he made his choice before he arrived or decided on the spot.
His latest book looked like a work of art in itself with illustrations which were like shadow puppet scenes. I asked him in the break which book his lovely gardening poem was in, he laughed and said ‘the next one’, so I bought ‘Theories and Apparitions’ published in 2005 instead This book includes ‘House of beauty’ one of the poems he read and other poems that I also like.
I met someone who had been on an Arvon course with me, and two people from Brighton, so I am not the only one who gets about to hear some really talented poets.
Great night out, glad I discovered the Troubadour, and the icing on the cake hearing Mark Doty.