Midpoint of the Universe: Event Review of Murmur #6
Common was quiet when we first arrived, just a couple nestled in the back and a family with a toddler that was all too fascinated by the glass windows. Slowly, people started filling in: Rory and some of the Murmur organizers I recognized, then one of the readers, then lots of artsy folks ordering burgers and popcorn cockles. Then the lights dimmed.
Honor Gavin went first, in reverse poster-advertised order. She lectures in fiction at the University of Manchester, where I had just finished my MA in Creative Writing. Despite being more familiar with her than the other readers, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I found her short fiction a lot like poetry, or at least, a lot like the poetry I write. They’re odd little anecdotes or thoughtful daydreams, peppered with calculated repetition and word play. They seemed both whimsical and careful. Her mastery of the short prose craft was on full display.
Aurelia Guo’s poetics stood in stark contrast to the availability of Honor’s prose. Her images were interesting and captivating, though they did not always obviously connect to each other – such is poetry. I remember her speaking about fantasizing about terrible things, about being racist or about being hit by a car. The vulnerability and brutality of this poem somehow struck me as tender and forthcoming about the complex and often hurtfulness of desire.
Alan Fielden’s set began with a celebration of the midpoint of the universe, followed by a strikingly accurate commentary on the audience’s inner thoughts whilst watching said celebration. Through this commentary, other things that did not happen were added to the commentary – a power outage, or specifically thinking of love and being by the ocean. However, when I remember this event later on, my memory will be altered and I will remember both a power outage and love, though they weren’t there to begin with. This meta-performance and its alterations will have an outstanding effect on my memory of the night’s cleverness and artistry.
From my review, you can probably guess that Murmur is one of my favorite recurring literary events in Manchester. Common bar already oozes coolness and the readers are always engaging and professional.
If interested, the next installment is Ed Atkins and Fatema Abdoolcarim on December 9th. You can find more information and updates on Murmur’s Twitter page, @murmur_presents, or on various posters around the Northern Quarter.