A heavy sheet of copper, bronze and gold hangs down her back. Her face is as strong as her hair and yet she reads from her essay as all Norwegian poets do: with monotonous tonality, randomised pauses and a dogged disregard for meaning. I want to climb inside her body and feel her metal shield heavy against my back: I would read from my guts, I would gush and glow and growl and scream but never let that false rhythm betray me.

Afterwards, a young man rubs his hand back and forwards across his freshy shaven scalp and nervously reads from his story of violence and hatred. A guitarist, a pianist and an accordion-player follow him. The singer self-consciously pulls his cap down but can’t hide his eyes completely. He sings a love song to his microphone, his gaze never slipping away to glance at the audience.

They’re even more frightened than I am.

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