This was the scariest run up to a gig I have had so far this year. On Thursday I checked and we had sold one online ticket, on Friday (day of the gig) we had sold five!!! One performer had made his way over from Spain and I was hoping it would be more than us performing to each other! On the evening I set up the door and prepared for possibly a dozen punters. By the time we closed the doors we had 45 in a 50 capacity room. Another four came in quietly after we started. This event that was making me panic mildly on Thursday had become the fourth sold out gig on the tour (following Manchester, Kendal and Newcastle)! Wow! Blackpool. You know how to keep me on my toes. In the afternoon I became a feral poet with Joy France. We danced around the Comedy Carpet talking to strangers about poetry and performing pieces to them. I wore a pink wig as a disguise and to give me confidence and also so members of the public could tell I was a “poet” and might talk to them so they could make a wide diversion if they didn’t want me to. Steve Gunnar Stroud: Kicked the event off with style. His poem Blackpool Transport Anthesis was at speed and he was masterful with rhythm and language. He talked of “chewing-gum constellations” and “using bass as a weapon to kill the gods of oppression, riding a slow pulsation all the way to gate-crash heaven … and reside in the colliding tides of everything.” Reuben Woolley: I told us of “deep music” and ended a complex poem with the line: “I’m just dancing”. He took is somewhere serious and held us with powerful words: “We feed the screams of all the silent children.”. Then performed a lighter poem to finish including the line: “The growing is music and the dying is laughter.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrFiKB4suXs Christopher James Heyworth: I loved the salamander poem. The line “Loneliness in crowded places is a seaside specialty” rang so true and has stayed with me.http://livepoetry.org/dates-venues/ Laura Alice Nation: Her poem about anorexia was raw and honest and I love the hope and control in the line “I am not the brittle one you last saw”. Joy France: I always enjoy the Bic pen one and the audience were well up for it. She treated us to a penny arcade one: “when pennies were big enough to matter” “whispered wish-words” and the “Fruitless!”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqIKk6hDjjc Break The Blackpool audience were well up-for-it and you could tell by the second half that some of the performers were possibly pushing some of their safer stuff to the back and taking risks. The audience were respectful and quiet when needed and loud and raucous as they felt the poetry deserved. Tonnes of fun! Shaun Brookes: Listed the places someone was to him “You are Lancaster, Hebden Bridge, etc…”.This litany was strong and pulled us in. David Riley: In his painting poem: “the furniture is made of lines, gestures, like my hands.” In a family history poem he is: “Knitting together her history – backwards”. Beautiful and visual. Lara Clayton: The poem about her aunt was haunting. In Fortune’s kippers “the scent becomes our compass” echoing the scent of the sea and navigation. Big Charlie Poet: I drank in the stillness of the audience listening for the “The little flat with rescued clocks – sound of childhood.” He performed a poem called it’s the grit that makes the pearl that was a masterpiece. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKuD1CfyasQ Colin Davies: I felt the sharing of our masturbation poems added to the raucousness of the second half!?! He says poetry is the new Rock and Roll! “SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SHOUT VERY LOUD. and sometimes you have to whisper”. “they listen to the whispers of the economy, rather than the shouts of those on their knees.” https://www.youtube.com/user/Wordrabbit Otley (the otter mascot) is very proud of his new rainbow scarf (presented by Joy France), but he says he is happy to share it with other mascots. We had our own illuminations a few days early as Joy has contacts, she wouldn’t tell us more than this and they were magically lit for the end of the event! A poem about Poulton Clouds written on the train back You offer me a thousand silver linings watery truths vapour promises fleeting lies You are cotton-wool divided by nimble fingers, Torn and ragged. Your poise, your tiny movements as you pull yourself apart to change my view I rearrange my thoughts, laced with vapour, the light touch of the cirrus, a cumulus bulk. I can’t touch you I can’t hold you Yet you are part of me.
Jibba Jabba: Thanks so much for letting me use the space and the night and silencing Jenni for a couple of hours. Ettrick Scott’s love poem to dry shampoo is genius. Ettrick owned the stage and usually performs as one half of PiPE RiOT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EeI-z8tr8o Sky Hawkins: I don’t often laugh out loud at poetry. Sky, gladly, caught me off-guard a couple of times. That is craft. I loved her piece to the charva and especially the response piece to the hippie. Her domestic abuse series is taking shape and is stunning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OeGAVjBI98 Scott Tyrrell: “Fortune’s pervert” was hilarious. http://www.applesandsnakes.org.uk/page/84/Performance+poets/287#-biography Alix Alixandra: her gentle lyricism and mandolin-playing were a perfect way to finish the night after Ettrick’s total owning of the stage she managed it in a more subtle, gentle, but just as total way. https://www.facebook.com/alixalixandramusic Steve Urwin: I loved the way he had taken the “in my box” type poem and added all kinds of abstract things and mixed them with the everyday and the “clutter hidden behind a screen/leaving silent space/in which to dream.” http://www.applesandsnakes.org/page/84/Poets/424 Chrissie Petrie: Chrissie offered us dirty pantomime or death, then told us we were getting death! Yey! for the pony that didn’t die in 1914, but probably has since! (Chrissie’s aside). Audience participation for a sausages/war poem. A first for the tour. http://chrissiepetrie.wordpress.com/ Jenni Pascoe: let me take over Jibba Jabba and locked away her non-quiet style for one night (only to explode at the end). What control! I loved her line about “magicians or children lacking an understanding of consequences”. The sadness of “fingers that had never held pencils” holding guns with skill. Then the seamless change in tone for the Real Noah to leave us on a less solemn note. http://applesandsnakesblog.org/blog/tag/jenni-pascoe Harry Gallagher: I was struck by how honest and raw “This is how I fell…” poem was and his volume poem was well-realised and disturbing. https://www.facebook.com/harry.gallagher.9 Valerie Laws:Valerie’s pathology poems were detailed and well-crafted. Love the five-year old’s question “Will she be stuffed and displayed in a glass case”!. She treated us to a ‘first lines of jokes’ poem. “Celebrating small penises” went down well, not sure what that says about the audience. Sally Evans: Sally conversed with a buttercup. In a later poem: “the audience walks away after Carol-Ann Duffy and doesn’t come back”. A feeling well-recognised by any poet who has performed more than a dozen times. Other highlights of my first visit to Newcastle: Thanks to Sky, I now know what a “charva” is and (thanks to Ettrick) how to spell it Was great to hang out with Alix and Jon after. We ran flat-out for a tram (in insuitable shoes – Leeds, I blame you!) and waited for a taxi with me. That was the most amusing bit of the night to me as we swapped lines from films and speculated about the two guys staring at us (as we stared at them) plotting our deaths! I hope to make it back Newcastle way soon. The Quayside Seaside, after a swift pint in The Crown Posada I would highly recommend it. I am always surprised by ale prices outside Manchester (or Chorlton). I then met up with a dozen performers, “52” poets and others in The Cluny where we sampled pie and pints. Was excellent to meet so many people I have built virtual relationships with in the reality and find them very like I’d have expected from their poems. A horribly smoky B+B resulted in this poem: Weaving a home Your house was spun from cigarette swirls, angry words and a lack of nourishment that reeked of stale bacon. We rebelled in the smallest ways: left the school-gate evading dinner-lady gaze to watch INXS videos and weave teenage laughter into the foundations. Next: Blackpool 22nd August. The Imperial.