One of the benefits of helping promote Spoken Word All Stars is that I’ve attended several poetry readings in the last couple of weeks when I might otherwise have been tempted to stay at home by the fire! In fact, when I was writing the featured listing about Spoken Word events for LeftLion Magazine last week, I realised how many poetry nights are now happening in Nottingham – about eight in February alone. Nottingham is definitely a great place to be if you are interested in poetry and performance.
Anyway, Spoken Word All Stars (plug plug!) is a UK tour organized by Apples and Snakes and Poet In The City, and will be at the Lakeside Arts Centre on Tuesday 1st February (8pm). This is the only date in the Midlands and should be a brilliant evening of words, beats and jazz sounds, including two guest poets from the East Midlands, Mulletproofpoet and Lydia Towsey, along with Kat Francois (a World Poetry Slam Champion), El Crisis and Oneness.
I wanted to get the word out at some like-minded events, so on Tuesday (18th Jan) evening, my sack of flyers and I took the train to Beeston for the monthly Shoestring Press evening at the cosy Flying Goose Cafe, one of my favourite venues in Nottingham (and impressively busy for a January night) with two poets reading, Sue Dymoke and Lawrence Sail. The following evening I headed to Speakeasy (The Alley Café), where the compere introduced the night with a long speculative ramble concerned with conspiracy theories, energetically and very amusingly heckled throughout by feisty young poet Deborah Stevenson. We eventually got to the open mic, and it was good to see a real mix of ages, ranging from some of Deborah’s young Mouthy Poets group to a fantastic gentleman in his 80’s. What I love about Speakeasy is that, as the name suggests, people are welcome to do whatever they want – a speech, a poem, a song etc and it’s a really refreshing approach to have an event where anything goes.
Quite different, but equally enjoyable, are the juried readings run by the Nottingham Poetry Series, which I attended on Thursday 27th (January) at the Lakeside. Eireann Lorsung (who runs the event) started by introducing the three poets reading that evening – Simon Turner, Matt Welton and Carol Rowntree Jones – but her preamble was both charming and brief. I was sitting with Lydia Towsey, who wasn’t that impressed with the very small plastic cup of wine she had received on arrival (however, the cakes – which Eireann baked herself – were excellent!) but was very impressed with Matthew Welton’s use of a loop station to perform one of his poems by recording and then speaking over the top of the playback, inserting new words to subtly change the repeated lines and create new meanings. Matt did, however, struggle with the technology to start with, so once again some heckling ensued, but this was supportive heckling such as “Go on Matt, I’m sure it will be worth it”. In fact the initial uncertainty helped build the anticipation – Matt’s delivery seems to be fuelled by a kind of nervous energy anyway, which really works for him, and I found it impressive that he memorised his poems which made this a performance in my book, rather than a reading. I liked the way his work is humorous and experimental, but also has a lot going on in terms of the content and the kind of word games he plays. As it happens, Matt is a guest speaker at the Spoken Word All Stars Event – so looping back to that….
Having spread flyers far and wide, emailed my mailing lists, uploaded the listing on websites, contacted schools and colleges, done the usual Facebook and Tweeting, my part is nearly finished, so I can just look forward to attending the event! All the performers seem quite different in their approaches, but the connection is the use of music in combination with their words. This will be particularly interesting for me, as I work with a musician for some of my performance work, so I’ll be really hoping to learn a lot from watching the show.
The poetry scene in Nottingham seems to be thriving and growing, with so many different approaches to spreading words and lyrics and stories and a lot of talented people working really hard to create opportunities for themselves and others, and loving what they do. Long may it continue!
|For a flavour of Spoken Word All Stars, check out this video of our visit to Latitude this summer, filmed by Sky Arts:
The show will take place on Tuesday 1 February at 8pm at Lakeside Arts Centre, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD