The Quiet Compere Tour 2014 – End of year blog (Part 3/3) – York/Leeds/Sheffield/Stockport/Special Mentions

York – dislocation of poets One of the parts of the tour I was looking forward to was savouring local accents and slang, in this respect York was a disappointment, but in terms of poetry, poets, audience friendliness of locals for a first gig away from home this was a cracking first away date. The venue was both large and intimate and we happily filled the area and even needed to source more chairs when the turnout more  than doubled on the night. Hmm! This is a difficult one as I decided my blogs were too waffly after the Manchester one and didn’t put as much detail here! Oops! Rookie error! Poetry Highlights for me: Will Kemp’s poem about a family falling into water and keeping tally was touching and spare. Chris Singleton’s T’was the night before pay day received a lively response. Amina Rose’s set was gentle and musical. Non-poetry highlights: Oz Hardwick buying me a cheese scone (at the bakery that opened until midnight and where they had York accents!) and taking me the circuitous route home to avoid stag dos.   Leeds – a warmth of poets Poetry Highlights for me: Emma Decent’s poem Advice from a Stone on traveling alone has stayed with me. The line that has stuck, even now, is: “Your centre will hold you.” Martin Vosper: performed his Leeds Prayer which gets better on every listen and as I learn more areas of Leeds. “Superman writes poetry” was playful as Superman was “allowing himself a little laugh”, “lingering over his lycra” and there was a “frisson of a fetish shared”. Ian Duhig: “The Lammas Hireling” was an excellent poem to take us to the break and I love the line “in a sack that grew lighter with every step.” Steve O’Connor: took us with him and got us lost in the sounds of speech and landscape in “an embrace that sustains like the ocean’s roar.” and “the noise of clouds at sunset”. John Siddique: His “End of the mango season poem” was powerful and moving and he ended with a lighter piece, which was an ideal to finish the evening, though it is the mangos that remain with me. Non-poetry highlights: The surprise addition of Laura Cole on keyboard to accompany Rommi Smith as “Gloria Silver” washed over us. Lines that stayed with me: Caleb Parkin: “Let us honour the Hangover Pig Angel”. Sheffield – an amusement of poets Poetry Highlights for me: Sarah Hymas: brought paper boats and exquisite artworks of poetry volumes. Helen Mort: The poem about walking the Swiss Alps in a crinoline “An easy day for a lady” amused me. Anne Caldwell: She “longed for a starless sky/short circuited everything/a cliff-top house where she sang to herself”. Genevieve L Walsh: rhymed “breasts” and “BBC North West”. I don’t need to say more!   Non-Quiet Compere event Highlights: Picture the Poet exhibition at Graves Gallery – half an hour of looking at still poets in print. Sheffield Poetry Business Writer’s Day: I was talked into buying a new train ticket to stay long enough to stay for the writing session run by Ann and Peter Sansom – it had been too long and was lovely to share more time and words with Lindsey Holland, Carole Bromley and Martin Collins here. Sheffield: I love your space and street art, your compactness and charm. It is so compact I feel I know it well, from the back streets of Vicar Lane and Campo Lane to West Bar roundabout in rush hour and the Graves Gallery.   Lines that have stayed with me: “Always give hope back in the same shape it was given, but bigger”. Gav Roberts “Most of all we wanted song/its tide in our ribs.” River Wolton Stockport – a questioning of poets. Poetry Highlights for me: Jane Rogerson’s Watching Jaws with Louis  poem. Genius. All questions Sarah Maxwell brought us daftness interspersed with medical terminology in What kind of bug would you be?. Helen Clare: I want the “gentle-pedal” Helen mentioned and the delicacy of “Blackberrying without stains on your fingers”. Philip Davenport: Without love we are no thing was harrowing as was the repeated line “wolf in drag”.  Dominic Berry: The refrain “men in suits, boys in school uniform” says so much in few words. He finished the tour with a Dragon in our homework.   Non-Poetry highlights: The Blue Cat Café in Heaton Moor was one of the best venues on the tour. My Mum and Dad came along to see what the tour was all about. The venue was buzzing from before doors at half seven.   Lines that stayed with me: In Ambush Street “the ghosts of hope will meet”. Steph Portersmith   Special Mentions: Co-hosts: Jenni Pascoe and Ann Wilson. xxx Joy France: for attending 5 events out of 12 this year. Plus for her excellent promoting throughout the tour   Sarah James: For advising me so expertly on the Worcester and Birmingham poets   Colin Davies and Big Charlie Poet for helping set up Lancaster without me asking. Stars!   Jo Bell: For the inspiration through 52 for a lot of the poems performed and I met 27 poets whose work I knew better through the 52 group before I met them, which helped me balance the line-ups better than I would have been able to without this knowledge! And for letting me promote the tour here and there. Sheffield, Leeds and Blackpool: Highest number of poets stayed behind after to share the poetry buzz. Top Venues: Midland Arts Centre (Birmingham), Three Minute Theatre (Manchester), Blue Cat Café (Heaton Moor), The Imperial Hotel (Blackpool) and CityScreen (York), Alexanders Bar (Chester) and Brewery Arts Centre (Kendal) and Seven Arts (Leeds) for being more than just venues. Steve Nash, Steph Pike and Write Out Loud for making my first experiences of interviews and radio so enjoyable. Reuben Woolley, Susan Deer Cloud, Erfan Daliri for traveling from Spain, America and Australia to be part of the tour. Colin Davies, Tony Walsh, Reuben Woolley and Jo Bell for sharing and retweets.   Apologies that I could not mention everyone. Thanks to all performers, sharers and supporters and for all the positive feedback. Thanks to anyone from the audiences or who sent encouraging messages the day before. The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’ Look out for the national tour next year. Find dates below: Quiet Compere National Tour 2015 – Confirmed Schedule  Date                                        City                 Venue Thursday 5th March               Halifax                        Bar Up – (co-host Spoken Weird) Friday 27th March                  Durham           The Old Cinema Laundrette  Friday 15th May                     Chesterfield    Chesterfield Labour Club Saturday 16th May                 Oxford                        Albion Beatnik Bookshop Friday 26th June                     Ulverston        Bardsea Malt Kiln (Co-host Kim Moore) Friday 10th July                      Worcester       The Hive Friday 4th September              Hull                 Union Mash-up Saturday 12th September      Exeter             The Phoenix Voodoo Lounge (co-host – Alasdair Paterson) Tuesday 13th October             London 1         Phoenix Artist Club, Camden Wednesday 14th October        London 2         Hackney Attic Thursday 15th October                       Norwich          The Bird Cage(Co-host Live Lit Lounge) Friday 20th November                        Cheltenham     The Strand Hotel      

The Quiet Compere End of Year Blog 2014 – Part 2 (of 3) – Featuring Manchester/Liverpool/Lancaster and Chester

Manchester – a familiarity of poets Gina Frost and John Topliff let us hire Three Minute Theatre, a venue I knew well and loved. Narrowing down the hundreds of poets in the area was my hardest task here and I ended up choosing poets I felt most encouraged other poets within the scene and had encouraged and supported me along the way. The tour would not have taken place unless Tony Walsh had planted a seed about applying for funding.   The Poetry highlights for me were: Jackie Hagan: Performed material from her one-woman show “Some people have too many legs”. Ben Willems: Stood in at a couple of days’ notice and he fitted into the line-up beautifully. His poem “Is your accent strong?” to the tune of “ Do you ears hang low?” was genius. Becca Audra Smith: Becca asked us “to tell me something real” about being a man. She took a risk and performed this piece she was unsure was ready. It stunned all. Tony Walsh: Tony treated us to a journey through the history of Manchester music. I love “Eyes the size of Timperley” and “passion underlined” and the list of Manchester things including: “rainbow flags/gladiolis/sewn on badges”.   Non-poetry highlights: Drinks with old school-friends who has come along to support and surprised themselves by enjoying the night immensely. SOLD OUT gig: Playing stock market games in the back of a cab on the way to the event – cancellations coming in via Twitter and requests for spaces from Facebook!   The lines that stayed with me: Charlotte Henson (now Felix Henson): “I am the thing you never asked for, but ended up with anyway”.   Liverpool – a friendship of poets The poetry highlights for me were: Andrew McMillan: Andrew was one of the poets in the Liverpool line-up I had not seen perform before and his poetry was subtly stunning and we were the “we” in the poem: “dressed like kids who have forgotten their games kits. Crying in the toilets.” David Bateman: “Word Wizard” in which he makes a stutter a luxury item. Colin Watts: “Taking down the treehouse” after children had left home and the memories coming to “half an hour with a  lump-hammer.” Stephen O’Shaughnessey: Stormed his first ever performance, especially with the detailed “Contents of a bed-sit” poem. An especial relief when I had been following a rampant purveyor of the bluest language by the same name on Twitter in error   Non-poetry highlights: The Blackburne House Cafe quiche and salad deal was exquisite. Poetry friends who hadn’t seen each other for years were catching up and reconnecting in the break. Yey!   The phrase that stayed with me: Cath Nichols: “Bat applicants” I often repeat it over and over and smile. Lindsey Holland: “the anonymous smell of long-forgotten crevices.”   Lancaster – a clash of poetic styles I arrived at Lancaster venue with ten minutes to spare before doors, in contrast to my arrival at Liverpool almost two hours early. The Gregson Centre had not been laid out and all chairs were being unstacked by a wonderful Blackpool contingent who had arrived before me, Big Charlie Poet and Colin Davies. My lateness was due to my day job hours shifting so I had to work Sunday afternoon/evening, which was not ideal and then catch the train the one before the one I must get. Train ran late and then Google maps got me lost in Lancaster. I couldn’t book a holiday. I ended up arriving a bit frazzled and panicked and the line-up had changed at 9am on the morning of the gig. I had booked one of the poets originally scheduled for Blackpool and Ashley Lister would have fitted best this raucous Bank Holiday Friday crowd. On an October Sunday his reception was cooler. I think adding his well-crafted, but erotic, poetry to an already wide-ranging evening of performance and page poets was one step too far and this was totally my mistake as at one day’s notice I did not check his style and re-balance the running order to take this into account. The Poetry Highlights for me: Jennifer Copley’s poem when she “fell in love with a word.” Rachel McGladdery’s whole set had a volume theme! “Syruped by sun slant and felt like almost joy”. After the Old Dungeon Ghyll was a poem about a folk night. It started: ”night is a moist blanket which we leave to dry and creep in through the crawlspace to a hum a hive of smoke and sweat and song.” “yaddering drumming”  “Deafened by the thrum of silence”. This poem drips volume.  She finished the night on a high note.   The lines that stayed with me: Erfan Daliri: Everyone IS looking for a place “where they no longer have to shoot down stars to fulfil their heart’s desires.” and “Love will be the smile we give away for free.” Ian Seed: “Sometimes a city is shown its own reflection in the sky.”     Chester – an organisation of poets Alexander’s Bar was laid-out brilliantly for poetry, however there were some lighting issues I hadn’t foreseen. I had printed out running orders, as I have from early in the tour for each performer. Chester was the first venue where four poets had printed out the running order themselves. They had also timed themselves to perfection, which made my job a lot easier! The Poetry Highlights for me: Angela Topping’s description of puberty as “No TARDIS to travel back to myself”. Katy Konrad continued the Doctor’s presence in her Bloodlines poem. “No longer a donor and no longer afraid of Dr Who.  He protected them and made them brave.” David J Costello’s MRI poem “a mildewed void the size and shape of me.” and in the scans “I saw the darkest workings of myself.”   The lines that stayed with me: Edwin Stockdale: “A manicured house, a perfect life in a mirage.” Jan Dean: birth as “the trick of clotting cell soup into ravelled flesh.” Christopher Coey: “We had covered more than miles on the scale of who we are.” “We are the show. It does add up. Just not how we ever thought it would.”     The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’  

Quiet Compere End of Year Blog – Part 1 (of 3)

Featuring Blackpool/Kendal/Newcastle and Birmingham round-ups 4 dates on the tour sold out: Out of these, two were co-hosted by regular nights (Ann Wilson of Verbalise in Kendal and Jenni Pascoe of Jibba Jabba in Newcastle). Another was the first date of the tour and on home turf. Blackpool – a raucousness of poets The fourth was Blackpool, with only 5 tickets sold in advance and one poet travelling from Spain (Reuben Woolley) to be there, the nerves were jangling. This was the first event where there was going to be a press presence. It was August Bank Holiday Friday. Had all the poets gone away? Would there be more performers than audience? My way of thinking has always been that if the audience numbers match the number of performers or are higher you have yourself an event. In the afternoon Joy France led a few of us as Feral Poets on the Comedy Carpet in front on the tower. I downed a swift whisky and pint of ale and ventured onto the carpet in a pink wig to read my poetry to complete and unsuspecting strangers and in the process met Colin Davies and Reuben. I had also checked out the venue on arrival. The Churchill Room at The Imperial Hotel was imposing and the best on the tour that wasn’t set up as a gig venue (with lighting and tech). At the door I was pleased as there were a dozen audience seated before official doors. Then they kept coming until every seat was taken. As well as the number of audience being a triumph the enthusiasm was tangible. Steve Stroud kicked us off with his machine-gun style wordplay. The crowd were respectful and silent when the poems aimed to elicit this response, but delightfully raucous when called upon. Colin had mentioned he was going to perform his masturbation poem, so I took the challenge and performed mine (possibly for the only time ever), a poem written from a prompt to write erotic poetry (from Jo Bell’s excellent 52 group). The poetry highlights for me were: Laura Alice Nation: she rarely performs and 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”. Big Charlie Poet: It’s the grit that makes the pearl poem – for the first time with that t-shirt. The non-poetry highlight: Joy managed to magically get the section of illuminations in front of The Imperial lit for the end of the event! The line that stuck with me: Christopher James Heyworth: “Loneliness in crowded places is a seaside specialty”   Newcastle – a dark amusement of poets Jenni Pascoe co-hosted in Quiet Compere style throughout and exploded at the end to everyone’s amusement. She really reined in her usual compere style and kindly let me take charge of Jibba Jabba for a couple of hours. The poetry highlights for me were: Sky Hawkins: Who made me laugh out loud several times by catching me off-guard. Ettrick Scott: Partly because of his performance style and partly because he explained all the slang terms to me after!   The non-poetry highlight: On my first trip to Newcastle: The Quayside Seaside and a dashed pint in The Crown Posada. The line that stuck with me: Steve Urwin performed an “in my box” poem and mixed the abstract with the concrete: “clutter hidden behind a screen/leaving silent space/in which to dream.”   Kendal – a respect of poets  Ann Wilson is a poetic force in Kendal. She was on chatty form and an excellent hostess. The audience at The Brewery Arts Centre were so respectfully silent I paused a couple of times in the night to hold the tension in the room for a few seconds. The Poetry Highlights for me were: Kim Moore surprised laughter from me with her rant about Brass Band students: She was putting a curse on the parents of these children that would: “involve marching and outdoors and coldness”. Mark Mace Smith: Mainly for his sideways “Can I get away with this?” glance and then a shrug “Well, I’m going to do it anyway!” Non-poetry Highlights: Meeting Geraldine Green and Susan Deer Cloud the night before and Geraldine’s Write to Roam workshop. Staying on Jane’s farm and witnessing newly born lambs twice in one day (tups and gimmers). The line that stuck with me: Polly Atkin: “Tonight we are full with species of madness”.   Birmingham – an encouragement of poets Birmingham, happily, sneaked into the tour of the North, partly because my geography of the UK is sketchy and partly because I feel an affinity with it, even though I’ve only been there twice. This event was particularly scary to me as I had not met any of the performers until six weeks before (when I met Sarah James briefly) when flyering. Both the Worcester and the Birmingham contingent were brimming with welcome. The Midland Arts Centre had a Green Room and was the poshest and most expensive on the tour. Well worth it to have experienced this, but a little over budget for hire fees of this level to be sustainable across the tour. The Poetry Highlights for me were: Bobby Parker: His pieces were raw, but tempered with a delicate, dark humour. Ddotti Bluebell: Her style was expressive and entertaining and action photos I got of her amused me! Matt Man Windle: Birmingham’s Boxing Poet. The first poet to make me cry on the tour with “Awe of us.” A poem about overcoming bullying. Ruth Stacey: Weaved delicate verse and then stunned us with “the bear who brings white roses that smell of other girls”. Non-poetry highlights: The Brummie welcome and the wealth of regional accents strong and subtle among the performers. Three blog reviews of the event were posted within 24 hours. Sarah James expertise of the local poets and styles which was essential to me in pulling this event together. The lines that stayed with me: Ian Bowkett: “Tomorrow we wake up better people with longer hair and a lesson learnt.” Charlie Jordan: “Bridges are where I feel small.” The Quiet Compere is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Stockport blog – A buzzing finale with a ‘questioning’ of poets, two wasp poems and a man in a Lacoste tracksuit

The Blue Cat Café in Heaton Moor was an excellent venue to host the finale of The Quiet Compere tour of the North. I think the audience gathered earliest of all this year with the venue buzzing by doors at half seven.   This could have been a very different event for me as it may have been the end, but as the tour continues next year it was a celebration of a great year and a taste of what is to follow next year.  Was brilliant to have family as well as friends in the crowd.  Also among the performers were my first consultant boss, a surgeon I used to babysit for making his debut performance and my first ever creative-writing tutor from Arts and Health Stockport.  Unfortunately, my GCSE English teacher had to withdraw from the line-up, she is also a cracking poet and this was a disappointment to me, but the replacements I managed to rustle up were high-quality and well-received.   I will have to have a look at my stats, but I think Stockport was the night where most poets had written a poem on the Volume theme, a fitting note to end on. A round- up of the year blog to follow in the next week.     First Half   Joy Winkler: The images in her volume poem was striking, especially “sings me back into a cave of shadows” and from Stolen Rowan Berries: describing playing a violin as she  “skims sins along the strings”.   Zach Roddis: I always enjoy “You only live fifty million times” poem and the repetitive tweets surround sound. Here he is performing at the excellent Evidently, Salford:   Bill Tait:. “Garish colour. Red against the pavement grey” sleeping-bag image has stayed with me. The repetition of months in the barnacle goose migration piece were effective. No web-site available.   Janet Rogerson: “Watching Jaws with Louis” is genius. A taster:  “Why don’t they close the beach? Is that our shark book? Do sharks die when they stop moving? Why are they laughing? Are they drunk? Why didn’t they close the beach?” this carries on for 57 questions! The whole poem is available in Black Horse magazine here: Her blog and pamphlet details here:   Sarah Maxwell:. Sarah brought us daftness interspersed with medical terminology in “What kind of bug would you be?”. We all walked “to the park with Chloe” when we could “tread again as a child”. And Sarah’s questioning by all at the birth of Jesus was well-executed and continued the questioning theme. No website available.       Second half   Solomon Scribble: “a frown among the flowers” was an outstanding phrase in the seasonal haiku. I am now going to play the dating site registration numbers game.  I was delighted to hear “The wasp king” again. The incantation rhythm reminds me of Dead Poet’s Society.   Helen Clare: I want the “gentle-pedal” Helen mentioned and the delicacy of “Blackberrying without stains on your fingers”. Find Helen’s blog here and look and check out her new collection Entomology here:   Steph Portersmith: In Ambush Street “the ghosts of hope will meet”. Steph took volume and fashioned it expertly into an overflowing pot and she became “lost on an island a moment wide.”   Philip Davenport: “Without love we are no thing” was harrowing as was the repeated line “wolf in drag”.  The man in the Lacoste tracksuit has stuck with me and may feature in the blog title.   Dominic Berry: The refrain “men in suits, boys in school uniform” is brilliant and says so much in few words. The “smart” not “warm hearts” sad. I always like to see Dominic immersed in  his children’s poetry and he finished with a dragon trapped in a homework book and the dilemma over whether to hand it in .   Stockport poem:   If you expect your hometown to be the same as in 1989…   …you will fail at buying lunch No pasties from Spinks, No toffee donut in the underpass. Even in Superdrug you can only buy one component of your Wheat Crunchies, Panda pop, shortbread lunch You wonder about the fate of barrels that used to hold spices nuts and yoghurt raisins in the Pic mix store.   … you will be disappointed if you try to find The £3.99 Bag Shop every school bag came from C&A – where you bought your first proper dress, red and strappy, floorlength and fitted to your new curves The place on Higher Hillgate that sold Bros patches for your fashionable torn jeans.   … you won’t be able to buy Cloisonne earrings from Salisburys. …you will still feel like you are fourteen if you go into Ann Summers   …you will grin as those shops that remain   remind you of long hours with fingers fast and then resting at the latest Double Four find: A re-released Smiths single The new Carter album of vinyl A double A side by a disco band whose name sounds like the late 50s   you will stand in Stolen from Ivor stunned that teenagers can still buy their cheap T-shirts and logo hoodies where you did and lumberjack shirts are back in fashion.   …you will mourn Cobwebs, closed seventeen years, though its red sign looks freshly painted, where you spent Saturday hours lusting after velvet and tie-dye and bathing in the sandalwood of ’73. Usually leaving with another incense holder or a new CND or Ying Yang necklace. Or with a birthday money dress, a patchwork hat you’ll wear once.   Preview:   Review: