I was in London on Wednesday for a reading by my friend Aidan Andrew Dun from his latest book, Unholyland published by Hesperus:
Unholyland is a love story in 264 sonnets. Against the background of daily events in the West Bank and Israel, an Israeli DJ, Moshe, meets and falls in love with a Palestinian rapper, Jalilah. In a trance-like world of music, verse and drugs, the star-crossed lovers come together in spite of the barriers of religion and politics.
The event was at Housmans bookshop in Kings Cross and I was one of the first to arrive. There was a £3 entry fee which was redeemable against any purchase and I put it towards a copy of Unholyland which Aidan signed for me. By 7pm about 15 people had arrived, more or less filling the seats that had been set out in the somewhat cramped bookshop.
The Star of Kings
Back in January I got an invite to the wedding of my old friend Aidan and his partner Lucie, which took place on Saturday in St Pancras Old Church. As an athiest I generally avoid attending religious services but in this case I decided to try to leave my prejudices at the door and go with the flow. Father Duckett (Assistant Curate with the Old St Pancras Team) was good and the service was powerful but it still didn’t feel right to join in with words addressed to a mythical being in which I do not believe. Once at a party at my house Aidan sang an excellent song about the revelation of Saint John the Divine and more recently he recorded a setting of the Book of Job (called Manchild) for his album Love’s the Drummer, so there are definitely Christian influences but for some reason I have always thought of him more like an Eastern philosopher. I guess I was a little disappointed that the service was a traditional Christian one but as long as the bride and groom were happy with the ceremony that is the main thing, and it was obviously incredibly meaningful to them both. Having friends and family present to witness it was also important, and they were, it was standing room only. Marriage is in the news at the moment since President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he now fully supports same-sex marriage. I could go off on one about it but I will spare you and just recommend an interesting article called Till Derrida do us part from the August 2002 edition of Harper’s Magazine.
St Pancras old Church
After the ceremony people gathered outside the church and then set off on a procession along the canal towpath for which guests had been invited to wear costumes and bring musical instruments. I wore an embroidered jacket and matching hat which were gifts to my father from a Kazakh colleague. My friend Malcolm was there and had brought a selection of Tibetan singing bowls which he distributed for people to chime, and the party slowly made its way to York Way and a pub called the Star of Kings for the reception. As would be expected there were a a fair few poets amongst the guests and they were encouraged to perform. Philip Wells, The Fire Poet kicked it off with something he had written for the occasion. I must have left by about ten o’clock when the party was really only just getting going but I trust that a good time was had by all.
The title of this post is the name of a new album just released by my friend Aidan Andrew Dun. Over the years he has given me a number of demo tracks and live recordings but as far as I know this is his first published album since 1997 when he released “The Cool Shall Inherit” (he did record an album called Honeyland in early 2011 but I don’t think it was widely distributed). Like the earlier album this one is attributed to Third Temple Records but technology has moved on in the last 15 years and whereas “The Cool Shall Inherit” was distributed on CD, “Love’s the Drummer” is only available as a digital download for $9.99 from from cdbaby.
The tracks on the new album are not so much songs as poems set to music, with Aidan’s partner Lucie Rejchrtova on piano/keyboards. I had already heard most of the material performed live at the German Gymnasium in a series of events called “Winged Thoughts, Words and Music” which I mentioned in an earlier post, Poets at the Gym. It was great to hear it all together in a studio album and after a couple of listenings I would say my favourite tracks are “Son of Erin”, “Manchild” and “Fierce Moon” – but it is all good stuff.
You can preview the tracks here on cdbaby, and if you like what you hear please consider buying the album. Aidan is an uncompromising and visionary artist who is unlikely to achieve great commercial success so every download will be much appreciated.
Way back in 1997 I had the good fortune to meet Aidan Andrew Dun after seeing him perform at Union Chapel in London. Aidan is known as the poet of Kings Cross, and through his interest in the Kings Cross redevelopment project he has been given the opportunity to do a semi-regular series of performances in an excellent space called the German Gymnasium, right outside Kings Cross station. I have been to five of these performances now and they just keep getting better.
The first was in November last year where Aidan relaunched his epic poem Vale Royal (originally published by Goldmark in 1995, republished by Dark Star in 2010). He was accompanied (as in all subsequent performances) by magical Czech pianist Lucie Rejchrtova. The next event in January was called “Spirit of the River” where Aidan read from Vale Royal as well as another epic tale of his, McCool (published by Goldmark in February 2010). For the February event he came up with the title “Winged Thoughts, Words and Music” and shared the space with John Gibbens and Armorel Weston who came on first to perform a fine set of songs and poems – check out their website. Since then Aidan has stuck with the same title and format and in March the guest artist was the fire poet, Philip Wells.
Bringing things right up to date, on Thursday I made the journey into Kings Cross once more to see Aidan and Lucie, this time joined by the poet of Southwark and author of The Southwark Mysteries, John Constable. John maintained the very high standard set by the all the previous contributors and was a tough act to follow but after the interval Aidan rose to the challenge and produced his best performance yet, including the premiere of two new pieces – a powerful poem for Gerry Conlon (of the Guildford Four) called Son of Erin and a hypnotic setting of The Book of Job.
If you haven’t been to these events then you have been missing something really special, and what’s more they are free! I don’t know exactly when the next one will be (probably around the middle of May) but I will try to remember to update this post when I find out – or you could try going to Aidan’s website and joining his email list. Hope to see you at the gym.