Weird Pleasure by Jim Ferguson review of the launch by Pat Byrne
I think it’s fair to say that most book launches, particularly on zoom, no matter how engrossing, can be fairly staid affairs. Not so the launch of Jim Ferguson’s ‘Weird Pleasure’ – this was a raucous, irreverent and highly entertaining event. There was much praise for Jim’s impressive new poems and Louise Malone’s art work on the cover. The host, Peter Burnett of Leamington Books, had a pretty easy time of it – no need for him to manage the chat as appreciative interruptions, questions, comments and questions were shouted out by an uninhibited audience.
From the outset I got the impression that the event was to take a novel turn. There was Jim done up to the nines in his good suit and smart hat, all set to perform in his kitchen. Since lockdown I have been on numerous events on zoom but this was the first time I’ve been greeted on my arrival – I was pleasantly taken aback when Carla Woodburn called out ‘There’s Pat Byrne’. This was a first – there was to be no muting of the audience.
Jim and Peter chatted amicably about this and that as they held on for five minutes until latecomers arrived. There was a good turn out and Jim treated us to some fine poetry from the new publication.
He kicked off with ‘Alex Harvey Was Our Guide’
‘this is Hey Jimmy with a touch of Jacques Brel’ – a song he wrote when he lived in Edinburgh and was homesick for his native Glasgow.
He followed this by singing, the comical and thought provoking ‘The Song of the Deep Fried Dug’. Many of Jim’s poems address issues of social justice and this one is about food poverty.
His creativity reaches full flight in ‘If I was Pablo Picasso or the Porridge Song’, another poem about a man drowning in the Clyde and the title poem of the publication ‘Weird Pleasure’ – a death of rationalism:
‘The porridge tasted better than ever, the mail was all good news, a bit weird and slightly mental’.
Jim spoke some prose, recited, sang and at times ranted. Every poem was engrossing and his delivery excellent.
He answered many questions including from Ruby McCann – had his experience in acting contributed to his ability to perform his poetry? He explained that it was actually his performance poetry that opened the door to the stage. Jim is very comfortable performing and clearly enjoys sharing his work. He is spontaneous, unaffected and easily connects with his audience – even digitally. He was happy to see his sister and brother appearing in the audience and pleasant and patient – even when faced with complaints: ‘Rab can’t get in’.
He spoke about his creative process ‘That way you’re thinking one thing and then it morphs into something else’. In an odd turn for a book launch, Jim responded to requests to recite some of his poems from other works (John Lennon’s Elbow’– and even the works of other poets.
The zoom audience could not have been more enthusiastic. It included a lot of longtime fans with extensive knowledge of his work. The launch whetted their appetite for more of Jim and there was a suggestion that he write a script for a play for Christmas (that would have to be fast). Participation in an event at Sunny Govan Radio was also mooted. No agreement was reached but who knows what will happen.
With the event in such full flow it was extended by another hour. It was smashing, unique, very Glasgow and in itself a really ‘weird pleasure’. I loved it.
Thanks very much, Jim.
A very talented poet and great performer. And so attentive to his fans.
One poem requested ‘The Russian doll Poem’, which he didn’t have to hand to perform, he put up on social media next day.
what can we do?
that’s a kind of interesting game,
I know it, and I love it just the same,
my pleasure is your pleasure, pleasure is ours,
I kiss you again, and again, and again, and again…
time is a slipping thing, it whirls, and it falls,
inside in, upside out, layered like Russian dolls,
whose hearts are baked in peaches and in flowers,
walls become the floor and the floating ceiling falls
in shock for all our memories drifting out,
through all time’s fears and all life’s dread-filled doubt,
romantic dreams seep through unearthly hours,
young ideals split once, yet, remained uncut.
a game of random rules and tottering truth
where old is young and certainty’s just youth,
the only thing for sure’s to mend and do,
you blink I’m gone, we blink, our world’s gone too.
Weird Pleasures can be bought on Amazon – full price of book goes to the poet during month of December.
Podbean: Jim and Pat’s West End Chat: Jim Ferguson chats with Pat. (March, 2020)
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