Read Rose Reade

Recently I attended a poetry reading organised by Ars Poetica, that was hosted in a candlelit Magdalene College Chapel. This was the first poetry reading I have ever attended, so I was not sure what to expect, but in the ad they offered mince pies and mulled wine, which at least to my Scandinavian mind meant they must have good taste. Anyone that offers mulled wine automatically has a small gold star in my book. This evening Rose Reade was reading a selection of her own work, and some works by a few lesser-known poets like Shakespeare. She mixed the poems up with a bit of her personal story, explaining what had inspired her to write a particular poem. Then she took us on a mental journey, letting us for a little while glimpse her life through the poems.

We had arranged to meet about an hour and half before the reading to do a bit of photography, and Rose had recruited a couple of her friends as a well-dressed audience. The chapel was lined by candles that we lit and the smell of burning stearin filled the space. I wanted to take some atmospheric photos, so we played around with different angles while Rose was reading in the centre of the aisle. After that things got a bit more creative and crazy, and we did composite shots, and then vampire shots. What else can you do in a chapel? I realised that I did not upload any of the really crazy photos, I might share those later. Below is a more sombre selection.

We were lighting the candles in the chapel and used them as our main lighting. Some of the wall lightings were left on also to provide a bit of a boost to the ambient light level. This shot of Rose was staged, we were playing with the matches that Eve had brought.
A view of the chapel. If you should have a poetry reading, this seems like the right place to do it. We had a bit over an hour before the audience started to arrive to get the shots.
Did you see the fourth head? If not go back and look again. I tried to put them on a line, and as close to a candle to give them a nice side light on the face. Added a bit of split toning to the photo, giving the highlights and shadows a bit of colour. Normally I only do that on black and white photos.
Eve Waller, here we were burning several matches to get that initial puff of smoke.

Here are a selection of my favourite photos, and if you scroll down there are also some of Rose’s poems. Enjoy!

A Reade-ing portrait. I made the white balance a bit cooler to bring out more colour detail. That was a trick I learned from some landscape photography YouTube video. Move the white balance around and see where you get most information in your photo, somewhere is a sweet spot where you can see things the best.


Poem by Rose Reade:

In the waterfall pupil of my eye,
A silhouette of you blurs these hours;
Arms and hands and heads overflow with such
Smoky brevity in our streetlight souls,
We can’t help but splay our silky smiles.
Sinking, whole, we swoon into one scorched skin:
Moon; ever attently gazing sur nous.
And the hands of the soul-drunk, jazz air,
Build us a cavernous witching hour
In which to dance, naked, with our visions;
Indefinitely an angel, you sing
At backlit street corners, paved with scripture,

In the waterfall pupil of my eye
Your blurred silhouette dances-
my love,
I could never count beyond my fingers.

Eve Waller, Rose Juliet Reade and Henry St Leger-Davey.


Poem by Rose Reade about living and studying in Cambridge:

If the terror leaves I might die
Yet living like this is killing me.

Whatever you do will always be
More smooth than I behave and it’s a
Crying shame I don’t try to be more brave,
When the sun sinks low, I’m thinking
How can I be this slow to know
The things that I know I know I already know.

A catastrophic cacophony of misunderstandings,
Or confused unhandings of reason:
Something bemuses me and wreaks
Havoc in my belly – there are all the clichés of
Birds and butterflies in there.
To tell you the truth, I’m so fucking scared
And I have nightmares of being
Swallowed from the inside out.

We could do with a drought in this season of rain –
Too much water, too many tears and
Still its not enough to fill up my fear
That I’ll fuck it all up.

Maybe it’s down to fate or chance or luck,
But all these hearts are colliding simultaneously
And it’s all I can do to be
As far away as possible –
The nearness of me romantically is
Practically impossible

At this present moment.
For when the moments present themselves
I put all my trust in hell and
Well, it’s easier to pray to the devil,
Easier to get into trouble these days,
Than rise to a heavenly haze:

Seems to me to be
Lacking in hyperbole.

I excel in convincing myself
Otherwise, other states of
Mind perplexing me indefinitely,
Only, to have so convincingly
Made myself a falsity
I seem to lack reality in how I behave
(It’s a crying shame)

Fractions of my former self
Reside inside my mind,
But they are so hard to find
I only trust the bard in me
To flip the playing cards
To chance.

Spontaneity used to be my deity
Now my mind runs away from
All the days when I felt things
And my heart-strings are tied in double knots
I am a double-crossing schemer,
Formerly a dreamer (yet still I dream)

Shot in the Pickerel Inn after the reading. I think Rose nailed the Mona Lisa look.

If you want to hear Rose read her poems, then head over to her SoundCloud page.

I am curious to hear what people think about the combination of poetry and photography. Would be fun to try and do a photo that accompanies a poem, capturing the story and feeling of it.

– Johannes

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