How do you say his name again?


Shit man, there should be some kind of punishment for ignorance. Maybe I should be embarassed, but for some reason I’ve developed a slightly careless and most probably egotistical attitude, which keeps ignorance as a safe haven.

Last night I lost my poetryinternational08 virginity. It’s true – once you start, you just can’t stop. Let me explain…

…I walked over the bridge from Embankment – had a bit of a Bridget Jones moment and felt like I was on top of the world. So happy to be in London town and walking towards the Southbank Centre. Walked past RFH windows – trying to glimpse a familiar face, but no one. It felt a bit like a lonely child looking into Christmas windows with perfect families all warm and cosy inside their houses, but then me being on the outside.

Went into QEH to check out the gig where I found quite a chilled out atmosphere. I immediately tried to gage the kind of audience that would come to this event, as I chose it because it’s not something I would usually invest time and money into. Were they all mega intelligent poetry buffs with stanzas on lips waiting to be analysed and smooched over – man, I can’t even say this guy’s name!

I literally had to find a way of getting my tickets without making a fool of myself,

“erm, excuse me, I’ve got tickets reserved for the erm, the, erm, the purcell room tonight…” lolz. Ok, so his name is ZBIGNIEW Herbert. The Herbert part I can do. Parentseh.

So, you pronounce his name “Spignee – ev” right? Im not sure coz I heard various variations on it throughout the evening. I shall call him Herbie. Henyways, so this is me. Girl – mixed race – East Londoner – LSE student – worked for the Head of Music at Southbank this summer – knows very little about poetry. and actually despised it at secondary school.

Thank God for the kind people running the show, because they were very easy to understand and started with the basics of Herbie’s life. It was like being told a story. In fact, it was like giving birth, because I suddenly had this new life in front of me. One which I knew nothing about. Not only did I lose my virginity, but I also gave birth- all on the same night. quite an ordeal as u can imagine.

Ok, so this event marked the 10th anniversary of Herbie’s death. I was 10yrs old when he died. He is Polish, u probably guessed, and he studied law, which I might do too. It was like I was meeting him for the first time. Amazing when someone writes, because then I can connect to them even when they’re in the next…world, if that’s what you believe.

Cool. So there were four people on stage. 2 men and 2 women. The lady who chaired the event had a most gentle and soothing demeanour. She introduced an Irish fellow – a poet, who began by reciting some of Herbie’s poetry. I enjoyed it. Again, it was like being a child and having a story told to you. I want to read his poems now, so that I can share in a bit of him.

They also showed a film of him speaking about how he used myths as the basis for some of his works. He seemed so lovely and I wondered what he would have thought of me, this Polish man.

At first I disliked the harsh tones of the Polish spoken on the film, rough and throaty. Then, one of the ladies on the stage recited his poetry in Polish and suddenly I saw the beauty of it all. It’s so seductive! Loving Polish, man. It’s all the sh’s and ch’s. Wow and to think I know nothing about this country, I just read a book set in Warsaw during the second world war…also I had a polish manager when I worked in Books Etc and erm, I know a polish student at the LSE. But, that’s as far as my insight into Poland goes. Oh yeah and once I went into a Polish bakery in Ealing Broadway me thinks.

There is a freedom in poetry. I’m envious and I want to find it too. Herbie’s poetry doesn’t follow the lines of rational thinking and he’s liberated and liberating in being able to craft these words.

I wonder who I would be, if I knew all of the stories of the people sitting in this room…how they got to be here on this night…?

Ok, so I started and I cant stop – will be back tomorrow night…viva PI08


2 Responses to “How do you say his name again?”

  1. msbaroque Says:

    Hi Amina, Katy here – it was great meeting you last night, and now your post has made me even sorrier than before that I missed that event. It IS the kind of thing I’d have chosen to go to and your description makes me feel like I was ther – if I were you – if that makes sense…! I’m going to link it from my own blog & I hope you do go back for more! xx

  2. how do you say his name again? « Baroque in Hackney Says:

    […] how do you say his name again? Jump to Comments Last night I went – still mellowed out from my lovely evening in Surbiton – to a dinner at the Southbank, where all the Poetry International bloggers (such of them as are still in town, sorry George et al) had been invited to have a bite and a drink and do some mingling. There I met a charming girl called Amina Adewusi, who had deliberately – because she doesn’t “do” poetry – opted to go to last night’s panel discussion of Zbigiew Herbert, with Al Alvarez, Agnieszka Wolny-Hamkalo, Eva Hoffman & Nick Laird. Wow! There is nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end, and it all worked out, too, because she loved it.  See her refreshing account of the experience here. […]

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