The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (I’m sure there’s an oxymoron in there somewhere) is in the throes of celebrating its 20th anniversary. One of the events that grabbed my attention was the performance of The Gingerlight. The Gingerlight are the fusion of London poet Jeremy Reed and his electronic soundscape collaborative partner The Itchy Ear. Together, they form The Gingerlight
I first encountered The Gingerlight when they supported Marc Almond in Wilton’s Music Hall in London (I refer honourable members to an earlier blog posting) and was extremely impressed by the tripartite configuration of a poetry, so dripping in visual imagery that you feel the words fall from Mr Reed’s mouth like diamonds to the floor ; the sophisticated and unnervingly clever electronic arrangements and of course, the filmic over head projections depicting amongst other elements, smartly spliced excerpts from the seminal Armenian movie, The Colour of Pomegranates.
Jeremy read mostly from his latest work, Picadilly Bongo. Jeremy was born in the Channel Islands but Soho, London was his poetic blooding as an early adult. He has written many works of poetry, narrative fiction and biography and I will explore these works in more depth at a later date.
The performance space was like a temple, a cathedral, a synagogue, mosque or any other Kasbah of praise, secular or spiritual. Jeremy, at the front, at the altar, giving himself in an act of sacrifice, each recitation, each reading of his kabalesque curlesque, image-quantic poetry, an exposition, a revelation, an exposure of himself.
Reading one’s work is like stripping in a room of the blind. They only hear the words and may not understand them but the poet leaves him or herself vulnerable to the possibility that there may be that one pair of unknown, invisible eyes lurking somewhere behind the curtains, behind the crack in the wall.
There lies the vulnerability of the poet in performance.
Striking, resplendent in his black beret on a good head of Bowie/Bon Jovi-esque hair, eyeliner and diamonte stone studded crucifix broach on lapels of a suit jacket commandeered to accompany dark rock-star jeans, the congregation was a strange brew of the dyed in the wool types who sat at the front, squatting, seeing Jeremy as we figuratively see him, above us, far from us like an angel who stands on a blue and orange cloud that may have flown in from an alien world, is only inches from our grasp but how we didn’t want to grasp in case touching the Magi kills the magic itself.
Nifty Jim was the first track, one I’m very familiar with from the wonders of Youtube. The Thin Thief of Hearts continued with Closer. The other parts of the audience, the ones who were tentative were drawn in. This was their America, their discovery, the one I made in London last March. One’s ship can first set upon the shore but only once. There were others who had access all area tickets who didn’t know what they were coming to see never mind whom. They responded warmly and appreciatively yet I wonder how they first reacted in their close encounter with this silver cigar shaped flying saucer of a poet. In the end, no matter the shape, we climb aboard if we feel the urge to fly.
Poetry, to me, is the like freezing a vision of the world or a feeling, scraping it and moulding it into a different shape but still retaining the essence of the original. Poetry may be oblique or obvious but its inner truth cannot be made disappear completely. The poet may smelt the plate into liquid ore and cool it with fresh words and hammer it into a different shape, a bowl, an ear-ring, a spear or a necklace even but the innate immutable truth of the metal remains forever the same.
Jeremy shared his truth with us, with all our truths, like all poets do. Each brushing of a truth against another enhances both, never diminishes. The deeper we dive into the sea of meaning, the more we find it around us for there is never a shipwreck of glittering meanings. The depth is meaning in itself. It’s a rueful day when you touch that ocean floor for where else is there to venture but sideways. There is no floor but only the one you have laid down to greet you before you leap off that diving board of faith.