The evening was opened by the Bloodaxe’s founder Neil Astley who introduced the Kurdish Choman Hardi. Hardi took to the stage with her poetry that explored the relationship refugees share with their homeland, before she read a number of chilling poems about the Al-Anfal Campaign. The brutalities of the genocide and the victim’s harsh realities were shared through her words. Hardi closed with A Day for Love to offer some light to counteract the darkness of her other poetry.
Next was Tony Hoagland, looking eccentric in a sparkly red waistcoat. Through his poetry he critiqued the modern world, and he addressed issues such as the environment and our ‘high velocity, consumerist culture’ in a hilarious, satirical way. My favourite poem Romantic Moments showed Hoagland’s skill as he compared a date between two people to the different courting methods of animals. Hoagland’s surreal and original poetry was met with laughter and I was unsure of what to expect from the final poet.
Kim Addonizio was welcomed to the stage by Neil Astley who described her as one of the ‘edgiest’ contemporary poets. She began by reading some of her new work: mysterious poetry packed with references to religion and the environment. Like Hoagland Addonizio’s poetry was funny, but in a more subtle way. Addonizio’s poems whirled through topics and big ideas while her interwoven satire questioned our preconceptions and beliefs, keeping the audience on edge. In my eyes it was not until after her poem Cigar Box Banjo that Addonizio truly proved her edginess, by taking out her blues harmonica and performing a couple of train songs.
The evening was a huge success with Neil Astley picking an eclectic mix of poets. The next event will be a reading by Marilyn Hacker on the 19th November.