On March 6, Lighthouse Bookshop played host to a night of poetry reading from the newly released book Multiverse: Science Fiction Poetry. For a night on which the rain seemed to be endless, this was a soothing retreat. The size of the bookshop meant that an audience no larger than thirty could be accommodated, allowing for a certain intimacy but with enough buzz that you lose yourself in the crowd if you so pleased.
The editors of the book, Rachel Plummer and Russell Jones, introduced it as a way to reach out to communities which may have felt excluded by the sci-fi genre in the past, with an aim to redefine its traditional description as only being accessible to the “old boys’ club.” In promoting Multiverse, Plummer and Jones aimed to show the diversity of the genre of sci-fi, and to even shock people by what could be deemed as so. As someone who had personally held such prejudices against science fiction, they succeeded in revealing the multiple forms of the genre even to me.
All of the writers brought a unique twist on what sci-fi meant to them; the range of people varying from creative writing professors at the University of Edinburgh itself, to astronomers who had battled with the age-old riddle of dark matter and went to poetry as a form of sanctuary. However, a linking factor between all of the poets was the high quality of their readings in displaying their personal connection to their work. Likewise, the multinational range of the poets also meant that even international poets who couldn’t be there themselves took part through recordings. The eerie and fuzzed sound of the speaker seemed fitting in playing with the theme of sci-fi; and if that wasn’t unfamiliar enough, there was also a reading in Gaelic. My lack of understanding for the words themselves only served to highlight poetic techniques such an onomatopoeia and sibilance.
The choice of topics was also surprising. No sci-fi poetry event would be complete without talk of space; but coming in the form of a physics exam question was unpredictable. Furthermore, the choice to talk about parallel universes in which we could talk to animals and go to the cinema with panthers also brought with it a childhood memory of The Tiger Who Came to Tea. This served as a stark reminder that we have all delved into the realms of sci-fi at some point in the past; either or both knowingly or unknowingly, and that we should stay open minded to the variety which this genre has to offer.
Overall the event was a success in boasting all the revelation which the book brought in showcasing science fiction, as well as a familiar warmth which comes with a poetry reading. While I can only boast for this one evening, the Lighthouse is host to similar events on a regular basis; of which I would highly recommend for those in need of a comforting escape.
Multiverse: Science Fiction Poetry at Lighthouse Bookstore.
6th March 2019.
Image: StockSnap via Pixabay.