One of the reasons I like listening to writers read their work is so that afterwards, when I’m reading it myself, I can hear their voice in my head. (It keeps the others company. – just kidding!) What it does is help give me a feel for the rhythm of their writing, which, in turn, enhances my own reading of their work. Assuming, of course, that they read well. It doesn’t always enhance my enjoyment and understanding of their work.
No such concerns over having Don Paterson read his poetry to me. Driving through heavy rain for over an hour to get to the Drill Hall in Chepstow seemed like such a small effort to make in order to listen to him introduce and read a selection of his poems. He is quite brilliant. I do have a soft spot for his wonderful accent but it’s not that alone which makes him such an excellent reader. You truly get the impression when he’s reading his work that he lives and breathes it and understands it inside and out, backwards, forwards and every which way. He is, also, very entertaining in the links between each poem with what could be throwaway remarks and anecdotes but are, in fact, intelligent and witty insights into the inspiration behind his work and what they mean to him, the poet. I would drive a lot longer than an hour if I had the opportunity to listen to him read again. If you get the chance, seize it.
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