Author: Suse Coon

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Friday, September 13th, 2013 at 10:54 am
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Arts

Caesura

A ‘caesura’ is a break of silence. It is a term used in music and poetry and has been adopted by Graeme Smith of Goodnight Press, who conceived and brought into fruition an event which champions the best in boundary-pushing literature in the UK.

Graeme explains, “The name was inspired by a George Orwell quote:  “Continue talking just loudly enough for the voices and the music to cancel out. The music prevents the conversation from becoming serious or even coherent, while the chatter of voices stops one from listening attentively to the music and thus prevents the onset of that dreaded thing, thought.” 
“I liked the idea that silence = the space for thought, so adopted this idea for the name. Silence is an important aspect of CAESURA – there is no ‘filler’ music between acts to allow the audience to use the silence for discussion and all performances are unplugged, making silence a necessity.

“The ambition driving CAESURA is to bring writers working in the avante-garde tradition, that often fly under the radar of public attention, to the fore. We don’t go for ‘big’ names, but the tendency is towards writers that are established rather than those whose craft is in its infancy. There are a number of famous writers I would love to include, however I’m more interested in seeing how the audience respond to the ‘up-and-comers’.”

Its bespoke, ‘no-filler’ approach to spoken word events has earned it such plaudits as “an intreguing and enjoyable evening… reminiscent of a 1960s gathering” (Theresa Munoz, Scottish Review of Books) and “the only voice event of the literary avante-garde in Edinburgh” (Martin Belk, author and Calder Publications associate).

On September 13th, CAESURA #16 returns to the homestead of the upstairs lounge at The Artisan, on London Road, after August’s residency at Leith Walk’s Yellow Bench. It has been running on a monthly basis at venues across Edinburgh since March 2012, when the first performers were poets Lila Matsumoto and Pete McConville, rapper Conscious Route and actor Jamie Gordon.  It currently runs on the second Friday of every month.  The event is free, with voluntary donations to help cover travel costs for performers from further afield.

Alongside the spoken word events CAESURA hosts exhibition of visual and concrete poetry and text-based art, the most recent being PALIMPCYST at Leith Walk’s Yellow Bench cafe (9th – 30th August 2013). Indeed, one of the most successful nights, in Graeme’s opnion, was CAESURA #15, which launched the festival exhibition PALIMPCYST. Alongside the opening of the exhibition there were other factors that may have been a strong draw for the audience: an eclectic range of performers, cross-overs with Edinburgh’s burgeoning experimental music scene and an exclusive performance to tie-in with the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing.

Headling the September event will be of the most prominent voices of the avante-garde in the UK, fresh from participating in projects at the Tate and curating the groudbreaking Enemies project, SJ Fowler. He will be performing his own pieces and an exclusive collaboration with local experimental poet and artist nick-e melville. Joining us from Manchester, having recently published the behemoth 100-poem sequence streak artefacts is Tom Jenks. Performers from closer to home include poet Rob A. Mackenzie, author of the highly-lauded recent collection The Good News, and award-winning Glaswegian sci-fi writer Hal Duncan.

The plan for CAESURA for the future, Graeme says, is “to continue to programme a mix of national and local performers, with at least one ‘travelling’ performer per event. In doing so I hope to broaden the horizons of the audience, whilst championing the best home-grown writers.
“Broader plans for Goodnight Press include publishing some new works of literature: the collection ‘The Long Year’ by punk-poet Rodney Relax is due for release in December and in 2014 we will be launching a series of pamphlets consisting of select works from past CAESURA performers.

Full details of past and future events are available online at www.goodnightpress.com/caesura.

 

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