It was a snowy foggy cold cold Sunday, but for the thirty odd people who stepped into The Crown Inn, Hebden Bridge the afternoon turned Tony Curtis. And those of you who've heard Tony read know that means the day became shiny with strangely honest encounters, humming with idiosyncracies, balmy with bathos...
In short he is just the kind of poet you'd want to accidentally wander into on a dismal Sunday afternoon down the pub - as several people did. Arriving with bemused looks on their faces, unable to turn tail and leave immediately and then fall, engrossed.
What Tony does so well is spin stories: from his poems, from the people in the poems, in the audience, from the train ride there, from the poems he didn't write. Part stand up comedian (he'll probably hate me for saying that), part wry poet, part Elizabeth Bishop afficionado, wholly engaged and egalitarian, compassionate and empathetic, you can see why he's invited to read all over the world, contribute to projects and anthologies. 45 haikus in one afternoon? He's your man.
And what a mine of information... Apparently, an unsigned Elizabeth Bishop first edition of poetry can be bought for $30, whereas signed $60000... Not that, he added, he was drawing any comparisons to his own book being available. And I doube he was. He's a modest man, whose purpose seems more driven by sharing a sense of humanity and making connections, which fires his poetry, rather than elevating himself. A rarity in such a charismatic performer.
Keep an eye out for his next appearance.