Last year I made an audio recording of excerpts from Mayakovsky's beautiful 1923 poem Pro Eto – literally 'About This'. The poem is read by me and George Hyde (who is also its co-translator, with Larisa Gureyeva), and features an original jazz score by Jonathan Lambert. Veronika Krasnova additionally reads parts of the poem in Russian.
Mayakovsky was renowned for his live performances; accounts of his shows describe audiences reduced to absolute silence in sheer amazement, standing open-mouthed in wonder at the electric force of his stage presence and booming voice. Mayakovsky composed his poetry mostly in his head, and knew it all by heart. He used stepped lines over traditional punctuation to indicate breath and pace, and even bombastically claimed 'I know nothing of iambuses and trochees, I've never diferentiated between them and I never will'.
'Take breath and read it with the ears, as I always wish to be read, and my verse becomes all right'. Such is the instruction of the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Although Mayakovsky's poetry certainly does not suffer from being read 'with the eyes', it is practically impossible to read it earlessly, and indeed when you begin to read it or listen to it aloud, new fantastic elements leap out that to the eye only are invisible.
You can hear a short excerpt of the recording on Jonathan Lambert's website, and can buy it via Amazon or other online places, or through me by emailing me at email@example.com. Copies cost £5 each, plus £2 p&p.
This year I am cutting right back on how many performances I am doing, to give myself a chance to finish off my PhD and also to focus on writing new shizzle. However, I do have a few appearances coming up that are a tad different from my usual shebang, and which I'm really looking forward to, so if you're around, come along and say hello! Mon Feb 15th Blah Blah Blah – Love: what's the point? (Poetry Performance) The Old Vic, Bristol £7 http://www.bristololdvic.org.uk/blahlove.html
I shall be focussing on the multiplicitous torment of DOOMED love
Thurs March 10th 'Bodybuilders in Bondage, feat. The Many Agonies of Dolph Lundgren' (Talk) The Catalyst Club Latest Bar, Brighton £6 http://www.catalystclub.co.uk
I heart beefy men in terrible pain...
Fri March 25th Volodya: Selected Works Book Launch & Reading Venue tbc Lincoln £free