Saturday, 4 June 2016

SATURDAY NIGHT NEWS - Restless Pens, Cave Poems and the Southwell Festival

So this week I have mostly been working on mah projects: writing a couple of poems for the Museum of Cambridge poetry trail, and organising stuff ready for the Gate to Southwell festival. (More on that later!)

I also spent my Bank Holiday Monday at a workshop called Restless Pens and Foreign Tongues, which was hosted by the Nonsuch Theatre and run by Chris and Melanie from the Mouthy Poets.

The workshop itself was really good, with some great prompts and exercises to help us participants to think about language and new beginnings. I particularly liked the exercise that encouraged us to swap some of the words in our writing for foreign translations, and I even wrote a couple of things that I quite liked, so you might see them on the blog in the coming weeks!

Chris McLoughlin performing (with Lowenmaul on the screen via Skype)

But the highlight for me was the performance after the workshop, which featured poetry from Lowenmaul, a German poetry collective based in Braunschweig, as well as poems from the workshop participants and some of the Mouthy Poets too. It was incredible to hear spoken word in a variety of languages – including a Spanish performance and a poem in Afrikaans, as well as lots of English and German pieces too!

Although I couldn’t understand the words in these poems, I was really struck by the rhythms and the performances, and it was really great to hear so many voices from across the world all coming together in one space.

I also felt a bit embarrassed because the only languages I speak are English and Bad English, yet here were all these poets doing amazing things with words in all sorts of awesome languages.

In short, it really made me want to try to learn another language.

Unrelated: the loos at the theatre were very pretty

Upcoming gigs:
This coming week is a busy one for me, because we have the Crosswords open mic night on Wednesday, followed by the Gate Southwell Festival on Saturday and Sunday. It's all a bit 'seat of your pants' but I reckon it'll come good in the end!

Our special guest at Crosswords on Weds 8th June is Michelle Mother Hubbard, a fantastic poet, storyteller and African drummer, and one of the founders of the Black Drop poetry nights in Nottingham. I've been a fan of Michelle's work ever since I saw her at my first ever Poetry is Dead Good back in November last year, and I'm really excited to see an extended set from her at Crosswords!

Last month's Crosswords with Shruti Chauhan

As usual, the show will take place in the sandstone caves underneath the Malt Cross pub on St James' Street, and there'll be plenty of open mic slots available for anyone who wants to join in! Doors open from 7:30pm and we kick things off around 8pm. Entry is £2 per person, and we have a mini bar down in the caves, so all your beverage-based whims. Should be a good night, I reckon! Check out the facebook page for all the details!

Then, on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June, I'm taking a group of poets to the Gate to Southwell festival, for various spoken word shenanigans. On Saturday, we'll be hosting a showcase from 1pm in Smiffy's Tent, with performances from a host of fantastic performers, including a shed-load of DIY Poets, plus a very special guest all the way from Scotland!

On Sunday we'll be taking over the Alternative Stage from 4pm for the Southwell Slam! It's the festival's first ever spoken word competition, where anyone can get up and perform for three minutes, with the chance of winning the title of Bard of Southwell 2016! An incredible prize, I think you'll agree. And our audience will be in full control, choosing their favourite poems and stories using a very scientific measuring system (numbers on bits of card). The slam is open to all festival-goers, so if you have a valid ticket for Sunday, and fancy trying your luck in the slam, please do drop me a line to let me know. Email us at to register your interest!


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