I recently discovered a tape of a poetry reading from back in 2001, at the old Arcadia Coffeehouse in Belfast. It was at the back of a drawer, on the b-side of a tape of (some very dodgy) ab-libbed poetry. Although I remember the reading pretty well, I completely forgot it was recorded.
As the date shows, this was recorded an age ago. At the time, I had been reading in public for about a year: listening to this, I'm still rather nervous and unsure. It's also interesting to hear how my voice has progressed with my speech impediment: there are quite a few mispronounced words and bum notes here.
Oh, plus also, the poetry is, well, pretty weak. But as an record of a bygone time, it's still worth archiving. Arcadia's poetry nights was, at the time, the only platform for Belfast poets outside of the universities. Run by Mark and Debbie Madden, it was chaotic, friendly, and a great place to cut your teeth reading live.
Arcadia was in North Street Arcade, a 1930s Art Deco shopping arcade in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. It burnt down in 2004, before a time when everyone had mobile phones with cameras and easy access to digital recording. There's precious little record of the Arcadia poetry nights left. At least there's this."