Sunday, 22 May 2016

SUNDAY NIGHT NEWS - Watching Other People Perform

One of the really great things about doing this whole Performance Poetry shiz is that you get to see *so* many fantastic people doing their thing on stage.

But sometimes - because I'm so focused on my own performance - I'm not really fully 'present' to enjoy other people's poetry.

So this year I've been trying to go to more gigs as a civilian rather than a performer. And, let me tell you, it's *so* much easier to relax when you're not busy worrying about your own silly poems!

This is what google thinks 'relaxing' means...

Plus, I always find it really inspiring to watch other poets perform, especially those people who have a perspective that's different from my own.It's amazing to watch someone on stage who has complete confidence in themselves and their poetry, and I always find myself coming away from really great gigs bursting with new ideas.

For example, last week I went along to the Quarterly DIY Poets gig in Nottingham, and we had a guest set from four of the Mouthy Poets: Bridie Squires, Neal Pike, Chris McLoughlin and Robbert van Dongen. Their poetry collectively blew me away, and even though all four of them had very different styles and perspectives, I found that I could relate to each of their poems in a really visceral way.

The gig also featured some incredible poetry from the DIY Poets, and I was particularly struck by the coincidental overlappings between the work of different poets. That's something that I don't think I would have noticed if I was busy angsting over my own performance.

Anyway, I came away with a notebook full of half-formed ideas and hurried scribblings, and I got the chance to see some of my favourite Nottingham poets, so all in all it was a pretty productive night for me!

I'm going to continue my winner's streak by heading down to FONT Festival next Saturday night for a poetry triple-feature at the Lofthouse in the Lacemarket.

The first one, God Save the Teen by Mulletproof poet (aka Andrew Graves), is one I've been wanting to catch for a long while. It's a show that recounts Graves' past life as a council youth worker, and speaks about the tragedies and triumphs of adolescence in what the reviewers have termed is an accessible and often humorous way.

Then, there's 'Cutting Edge' a hard-hitting piece of performance poetry by Michelle Mother Hubbard, which deals with the traditional, cultural and historical practices that dehumanise and damage women throughout the world, with particular focus on female genital mutilation. Michelle is a powerhouse of creative energy, so this is definitely going to be an incredibly thought-provoking and powerful show.

Finally, I'm really looking forward to seeing Ben Norris perform. I first saw Ben at Rough Trade back in November, and his unique mix of wit, wisdom, and wonderful wordsmithery had me sold from the very beginning. I'm not quite sure what his new show will be about (the festival website leaves the whole thing delightfully vague) but I reckon it's gunna be a good 'un!

Gigs coming up...
Did I mention that I've got with the very excellent Soapbox Presents… at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket on Wednesday? I’ll be performing alongside some brilliant local talent, including Dan Clark and Lee Turner, plus the headliner is the one and only Harry Baker – who is a huge deal on the international poetry slam scene. a completely massive star on the Spoken Word scene. Harry’s won tonnes of poetry slams, including the London Slam, the European Slam and he was World Slam Champion in 2012!

Harry Baker doing a TED Talk

I wish I could tell you that I'm not massively nervous, but I am! So that's good news for my blood sugar levels! Still, Amy Wragg at Soapbox has put together a bloody amazing lineup, and I'm honoured to be allowed on stage with them all! Tickets are £6 in advance (£4 for concessions) and £8 on the door. Maybe I'll see you there?

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