Sunday, 29 May 2016

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Going Back Down South

So this week I was mostly stressing about doing a supporting slot for Harry Baker, who is a massive star on the spoken word scene. He’s only 24, but he’s already won both the European and World Slam championships, and he makes a full-time living performing his work across the UK and around the world.

Harry Baker doing a TED Talk

It’s enough to make you sick, isn’t it?

At least it would be, if I wasn’t so stoked for him!

See, it’s actually pretty amazing to watch people succeed within the poetry community, and it’s even more amazing to see that writing and performing can become a career, if you work hard enough and have the talent.

(Fingers crossed maybe I’ll get there one day too!)

It goes without saying, but I really enjoyed the performance on Wednesday night. Harry has an incredibly engaging performance style, and his poetry is filled with wit and warmth, and is brilliantly funny without ever being mean-spirited. I particularly enjoyed his Dinosaur Love poem (complete with all the growls of a T-Rex) and the German/English poem Falafel Löffel was like a master class in creative word play – and pretty hilarious to boot!

Plus, I got the chance to see some pretty awesome local performers too. Dan Clark is a particularly favourite of mine. I absolutely love the way his mind works, and his rhymes are effortlessly tight and lyrical, without being pretentious in the least. I particularly loved hearing ‘April Fool’, but the whole set was fantastic.

And, I finally got the chance to see Lee Turner (aka Nature Culture) who played an incredible set, with a lyrics full of whimsy and a funky bass guitar. My favourite songs were Little Mardi Gras and Gramophone Cactus, but the whole set was so joyful and full of energy that I just couldn’t keep still! Amy Wragg, who organised the event, did a bloody brilliant job, and I'm really looking forward to working with her again at Folk East in August!

Terrible photo (of an awesome night)

While I was back in East Anglia, I took a wander round my old stomping ground, the lovely city of Cambridge. I was there to visit the Museum of Cambridge, because I’m working on putting together a Poetry Trail for them based on the objects and artefacts displayed in the museum. And, given that I hadn't actually been there for ages, I thought it was about time that I refreshed my memory and checked out the permanent exhibitions.

The museum is one of those great little treasures in the town, and it’s filled to the brim with all sorts of weird and wonderful treasures. They have a bit of everything, from historical objects relating to the Colleges of Cambridge University, to working artefacts from Cambridgeshire’s agricultural past, and some fantastic gadgets and gismos which tell the story of industrial progress in the home.

This may look like a torture device, but it's actually an apple corer. Poor apples!

There are some brilliant objects in the museum, and I’ve now got a load of notes and photos from which to write my poems. So, if you want to know what I’ll be doing this weekend, I will be writing about eel traps and Victorian toys and sugar loaves.

And you know what? I’m pretty happy about that!

How could you not love a museum with this sort of thing in it?!

This week, I also got the chance to see three performances from local poets as part of the Nottingham FONT Festival.

 I saw 'Cutting Edge' by Michelle Mother Hubbard, 'God Save the Teen ' by Mulletproof Poet, and an extended poetry set from Ben Norris, and all three of them were brilliant in very different ways:

Cutting Edge was first, a piece that spoke about Female Genital Mutilation and similar cultural practices that harm women and girls around the world. Michelle's vivid and graphic depictions of these practises were very hard to stomach at times, and I was shocked by some of the things she described. It was a really eye-opening performance, and I would definitely recommend it as a bold and unflinching piece of social commentary.

Ben Norris was up next, with a fantastic collection of poems that illuminated the age-old themes of family and growing up with a wonderful mix of sober reflection and laugh-out-loud wittiness. One of my favourite pieces was a list poem about moving to London and trying not to become a wanker. Ben candidly revealed that the poem did not play well with audiences in the capital, although it was very well received outside of London. Funny, that...

Finally, Andrew Graves aka Mulletproof Poet gave us a tour around his old estate, taking in school yard bullies and slightly creepy PE Teachers, before moving through to his first job staking shelves, his dreams of being a rock star, and his eventual career as a youth worker.

Photo Courtesy of FONTfest
Throughout the piece, Andrew describes the often fraught relationship he had with his father, culminating in an incredible reveal that most teenagers will never believe - that their parents loved them all along. It's a deeply personal show, which combines poetry and storytelling to give us an insight into the mind of that most derided and misunderstood of human beings, the teenager.

I really loved all three performances, despite their very different styles and tones, and I think I also learned quite a lot about the structure and narrative of long-form performances pieces. Seeing these shows has definitely inspired me to pick up my old notes and go back to working on my ideas for an hour-length show of my own. So watch this space, I guess! 

Upcoming gigs:
I haven’t got any gigs next week, but I am going to the Restless Pens and Foreign Tongues workshop at the Nonsuch Theatre on Bank Holiday Monday. The workshop is being run by the Mouthy Poets in collaboration with their German sister collective Loewenmaul, and it’s going to be a lot of fun! I really like the idea of using foreign languages as inspiration for creative writing, and I’m really looking forward to trying something a bit different as well.

There’ll also be a performance in the evening, where participants can show off their work-in-progress, and also watch performances from members of Mouthy and Loewenmaul (who’ll be joining the show courtesy of skype).

It’s going to be a really cool event, so if you have a bit of time to kill on the Bank Holiday, why not come along. You can find all the details here.

No comments:

Post a Comment