OTR Review: Pound Poems

By: John Rattray

Last Tuesday I went for a coffee. There was nothing novel in my choosing to go for a coffee, nor the coffee itself. Indeed, the experience would have been decidedly dry and routine – notable for nothing beyond a welcome caffeine boost – had it not been for two students and a typewriter, who prompted this review. This grouping formed Pound Poems, a small event run as part of On The Rocks student arts festival.

The idea behind Pound Poems was wonderfully simple and attractive; prior to ordering a coffee, you paid a mere pound to have one of the two students write you a poem based on a prompt of your choice. I did exactly this, and so after only 10 minutes spent in Taste, I found myself with not only a coffee in hand, but a personalised poem, too.

There was a brilliant duality to Pound Poems; one ordered not only coffee, but also a poem. Though it may not have been intended, a list of suggested prompts, provided by Pound, struck me as being rather like a menu, attempting to cater to all your poetic wants. After briefly considering the prompt menu, to no avail, I came to rest on the theme ‘tentative’, in an attempt to capture my own manner and provide the poets with a challenge.

My challenge was well met, and not long after I was presented with a poem of eight lines, typed and signed on considered cartridge paper. The poem, and the experience as a whole, was charming and intimate; chatting to the poet and watching his interpretation of your subject come together was worth far more than a pound.

As pleasant in practice as it appeared on paper, I – and no doubt many other coffee drinkers – would be delighted to see Pound Poems return in next year’s programme. 

ST.ART Magazine