When booking spaces for poetry gigs, it's only a matter of time before the landlord (or whoever is otherwise in charge) specifies firmly, you can have it that night but strictly no music. The pedant poet inside has to stifle a laugh through gritted teeth: oh I promise there'll be no music, just poetry...
It's all music of course but few musicians can share the spotlight with poets without it transitioning into an X Factor's Got Talons moment. So when Kim Addonizio pulled out a harmonica at this NCLA Bloodaxe trio of readers I did the internal gasp of the well behaved audience member faced with the awkward tuning up of a squinting hipster with a uke or the guy who somehow, without fail, has just written this song on the way here!
Having wowed us with lines from her New and Selected like whatever constellation or holy Smurf guides people through their lives, the whole room wanted her harmonica to be as good as her provocative poems. And it was. Train Song was a provocation of the same order. The huffing, bluesy beat left some still footed, soulless saps muttering well this isn't usually part of the poetry show and the rest of us bouncing our feet, smiling, asking why not?
Kim Addonizio on harmonica. Photo my own.