Monday, 23 June 2014

MONDAY NIGHT NEWS - Fen Speak and the Beverley Folk Festival


Hello hello hello! Sorry for being a day late with this posting, but I spent my Sunday in Yorkshire, soaking up the summer sun at the Beverley Folk Festival. More of that later...

Closer to home, we hosted the ninth Fen Speak poetry open mic in Ely last Wednesday, with around thirty enthusiastic poets and writers descending upon the Babylon Gallery for more Spoken Word fun!

As part of the Ely Arts Festival, we were delighted to welcome three of our Young Fenland Poet Laureate award winners to the stage for a special performance of their winning poems, as part of our usual Fen Speak frivolities.

Florence Browse - our 2014 Young Fenland Poet Laureate - gave a fantastic performance of her winning poem, Licorice Lines, and we also heard from second prize winner Kristina Tunnard and highly commended finalist Hannah Lemmon. All three girls were excellent and their poetry proved very popular with the audience on the night. We're really looking forward to hearing a lot more from them in the future, and hope we can work with them all again soon!

Deb Curtis
We had some great contributions from our regular performers too, with wonderful poetry and prose from Deb Curtis, Bob Sheed, William Alderson, Jonathan Totman, Dominic O'Sullivan, Liam Brown, Chris Morgan, Rosemary Westwell, George Ashdown, Mary Livingstone, J S Watts, Alan Bardouleau, Miriam Brown, and Tony McCormack.

There were also performances from two poets celebrating their first time at Fen Speak. Jacqueline Mulhallen blew us away with her powerful and deeply affecting poem on the issue of immigration, while Simon Gilligan recited a very moving piece inspired by a recent funeral. Though Simon has been a long-time supporter of Fen Speak, this was his first time on stage, and we're very grateful to him and to Jacqueline for joining us. Here's hoping they come back again next time!

Our next event is at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum on Wednesday 16th July, and we’ll be back in Ely on Wednesday 20th August. Check out our facebook page for more information.

Then, on Sunday, I motored up the A15 to Yorkshire, to take part in the Beverley Folk Festival.

Folk music at the Beverley Folk Festival

I was invited along by local poet Johanna Boal, who had organised an excellent poetry showcase as part of the festival. We drew a good crowd of around twenty people - a huge success given that our performance time clashed with Thea Gilmore on the main stage!

Johanna started us off with a great selection of poems from her first collection Cardboard City and Clint Wastling followed with a lovely selection of work on themes as diverse as fossils, pollution and David Cameron. Clint is as scientist by trade, and many of his poems were inspired by scientific issues, which I found completely fascinating.

Scottish poet Shay Crinkle was up next, and her fun and funny poetry was a big hit with the audience. Then, Hull-based performance poet Catherine Scott took to the stage, and we were treated an excellent set filled with witty rhymes and well rendered observations.

After a couple of poems from me, our final act, Lucy Ayrton, performed some work from her show Lullabies to make your children cry. Her poems were engaging and confessional, often funny, and full of emotional punch. I was delighted to get hold of a copy of her poetry pamphlet at the end of the show.

In fact, I managed to get my hands on some serious poetry swag:

This month's reading material!

For my part, it was a really good gig. I performed some old favourites, sold all my poetry pamphlets, and got another chance to practise my memorised poems for the Hammer and Tongue Slam final in September. I also got to meet and connect with a host of talented writers from the North East, and I really hope I can get back up to Yorkshire to see them all again soon!

A huge thanks to Johanna Boal for all her hard work in organising the poetry event, and thanks to the Beverley Folk Festival for letting us perform!

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