Saturday, 13 June 2015

NEWS - Strawberry Fair & the Choc Poetry Club

These posts are getting more and more irregular, aren't they? Sorry about it that. It's just that the last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy. My other half and I are moving to the Midlands over the summer, so I've been searching for a new house, and looking for a new job, as well as keeping up with my current day job and travelling around doing poems.

It's all been a bit of a juggling act. But luckily, I've been to a few really nice gigs recently too! 

On Wednesday 3rd June, I jumped in my car after work, and headed straight up the A1(M) to Nottingham.

When in Nottingham, make like RH

The journey took significantly longer than the two hours that Google Maps promised me, containing as it did a fairly substantial (and accidental) detour around Grantham.

When I finally managed to get back to the main road, I soon found myself in Robin Hood country and, after a few laps of the ring road, I made it to the Broadway Bar on Broad Street.

I’d made the journey in order to meet the DIY Poets, collective of writers who meet every month to share ideas, organize events and chat about poetry. They also produce a series of free poetry magazines, which are distributed at venues all over the city.

In short, they are exactly the kind of people I want to hang out with!

The meeting I attended was really good fun, and the DIY poets were incredibly welcoming, giving me loads of brilliant advice on the Nottingham poetry scene.

I can’t wait to explore more spoken word events in Nottingham soon!

Then, on Saturday 6th June, I helped to set up the Wild Strawberries Spoken Word Stage at the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge. I’ve been going to this one-day community arts festival since I was about sixteen, so I know that it’s always a pretty awesome day out and, luckily for us, it was an amazingly sunny day.

Poetry, this way

It was also blowing a bloody gale, and the wind was so strong that it ripped part of the Wild Strawberries tent clean out of the ground! Fortunately, a friendly lady in an adjoining tent had beaucoup de sailing experience, and her rigging skills were second to none!

Once the tent was securely fastened to the earth, it was time for the poetry to begin!

Fay Roberts (of Allographic) and Wes Freeman-Smith (from Shindig) always put on an exceptionally fine show, and this event was no different! 

I saw excellent sets from Andy Bennett, John Row, Caroline Teague, Patrick Widdess, Michael Brown, Marion Leeper, Charley Genever, and Ashley Fox, plus a whole host of very fine open mic performances too!

Highlights for me included Patrick’s leaky spoon, Caroline’s beautiful ukulele music, and Charley’s fantastic animal bus poems (which were written as part of the Bus Poetry Project we both did in May).

Some of the talented poets at Strawberry Fair!

I also really loved Marion’s brilliant story ‘the tiger and the strawberry’, which was very fitting given our location. (And included free strawberries at the end too!)

Other performers on the day included Poppy Kleiser, Nikki Marrone, JS Watts, Jonathan Totman, Robin Lamboll, Charlotte Higgins, Rychard Carrington, Daisy T-G, Russell J Turner, Natasha Moskovici, Riaz Moola, Steve Lawton and Uppahar Subba (I told you it was a packed schedule!)

And, if the reviews on facebook, twitter and blogger are anything to go by, it looks like each and every poet on the stage absolutely smashed it!

Huge congratulations to Fay and Wes for putting on an utterly fantastic event! Same time next year?

Lovely day for it!

Then, on Sunday 7th June, I hopped in my car and motored down to South London to take part in the Chocolate Poetry Club open mic event at the Communion Bar in Camberwell.

I heard about good things about the Chocolate Poetry Club from other poets who'd been along to their sessions, so I was really looking forward to checking it out. A couple of my friends live in Camberwell too, so they were able to help me find the place, which was hidden away in a basement off the one of the main shopping streets.

Full house for the Communion Bar!

First off, let me say that the Communion Bar is an incredibly strange, and strangely beautiful venue. The only source of light in the place are light boxed set into the walls, which are covered with stained glass artwork of bible stories. There's wine and communion wafers on each table, and all the drinks are served in antique-looking cut glass vessels. Basically, they've decided on a theme and stuck to it.

I liked it very much.

As for the poetry, it was superb. In fact, I've actually never seen such a high standard on an open mic before!

Host Paul Point deftly guided the audience through an array of stunning performances with wit and charm, and featured poet Anthony Anaxagorou was completely captivating. Angry, honest and power, his poem 'I am not a Poet' will stay with me for a really long time.

Myriam Word Maker's amazing mirror poem really stood out for me too - the entire poem was a palindrome, and Myriam had absolutely nailed it!

I also really loved Tyrone Lewis' very witty poem about vanity, and Toby Thompson's gloriously imagined sunset poem. Corrine Altass-Hye blew me away with her heart-wrenching piece teaching young children, and also I really loved the poems performed by Iris Colomb and Becky Moses

Last but not least, Damian O'Vitch's poem about aliens was both hilarious and thought-provoking, and really make me laugh!

I can't wait to go along to the next show!

Yes, I am wearing the same hat. #wardrobemalfunction

Photos of Strawberry fair courtesy of JS Watts
Photos of the Choloate Poetry Club courtesy of Tyrone lewis

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