Quiet Compere Review of 2015 3/4 featuring Camden, Hackney and Hull events.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016 Camden – Outbreak of poets The sound of the sewers under the streets was eerie after reading about in The Ghost Map (Steven Johnson) In the 1853-4 epidemic having a pint was safer than trusting the pumps (as they had their own water source). I found the site of the Broad Street Pump and had a pint in the John Snow. I also bought myself some badges. My poetry highlights: Fran Isherwood’s story of the successful singer who gave it up to own a tripe shop in Bolton ‘..to the stages of London, Paris and Rome. but Bolton, Lancs, was always his home.’ Cathy Dreyer’s poem about motherhood: ‘life was so much heavier and faster than any one of us ever expected. We are their early universe. Trying to make the bouncing be dance.’ Ella Jane Chappell stood in with four hours’ notice. The fact all her poems were space or science-based was a happy coincidence for the space theme. I smiled at the rhythm of the phrase ‘fool-hardy carbon’ and the poem Hokum Sands where ‘thoughts only of the goodbyes we need to say, and the wind that will sweep them away’ and then, ‘She tastes of a note echoing in the hallway.’ ‘A thunderstorm within a marble. My non-poetry highlights: The Ghost Map tour I led myself through. Photography by Andrew King and partner was striking and the venue had at least six types of chair. Joshua Seigal’s account of doing a gig when his parents were the only audience. The lines that stuck with me: ‘We’ve all spent nights under glitter ball stars in red stilettos!’ Emma Simon ‘There are stories she needs to tell that don’t stop at fingertips’ Zelda Chappel ‘we all fall off the edge and get smaller.’ Laura McKee Hackney –an attic of poets My poetry highlights: Clarissa Aykroyd captures a lack of choice beautifully with ‘He had to fly into the storm, because there was nothing but storm.’ Gary from Leeds: Had a poem about an Allen key ‘he’s called Allen, frankly it suits him.’ Still smiling now. Natalie Shaw: Clytemnestra is steeped in passion and the raw anger ‘If you knew what it was to stretch yourself to fit a life, to watch a body you have made find itself and move and grow, you’d not make this, this nothing.’ My non-poetry highlights: Finding the shard after looking for it in its shadow for a good five minutes. Stumbling up a 300 year old staircase to The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret. There are poems waiting to be written about this place and lots of photos. An afternoon in The Poetry Library on the South Bank with new and old friends and so many magazines to choose from – my favourites is still The Interpreter’s House and I discovered Popshot Magazine is gorgeous. The buzz of the picturehouse venue. Though how to garner a healthy audience in London when not based there eludes me. The lines that stuck with me: Nicky Phillips: ‘Deep below the chatter and excitement of a London Monday morning’. Tom Gill: ‘Let’s invest in a dress for anorexic buyers. Bring out a new Size 5 and pretend that that’s fine.’ Susan Castillo: ‘Caress their spines… never stop at endings.’ Hull – a reality of poets – there was much more of the real life in the room that night than a percentage would have suggested. Even with numbers depleted by it being the same day at The Freedom Festival. My poetry highlights: Sue Lozynskyj: I didn’t know Sue before the event and she blew me away. ‘Let dance listen until the last note – rocks decorated by drops of pitch’. I love her instructions to ‘meet me at the nose of this cow a week on Friday. Bring Cake.’ I smiled at the dishing out of the flags and how one is bestowed for ‘the most imaginative use of seaweed’. Carol Robson’s take on space as Women’s Space in Spoken Word: ‘is genderless’. My non-poetry highlights: The Hall Wall of Fame: I found Philip Larkin and was surprised Reece Shearsmith was from there. The Charity shops. Ye Olde White Harte pub – the doors, the spaces, the people who were in having pints and ready to share their stories. The lines that stuck with me: ‘stop folding the sky through the creases of your skin.’ Wendy Pratt ‘The floor he made from his jealousies and fears/The bars from empty promises’ Miki Higgins ‘we are all damaged inside. I think even you can see that.’ Anarchist Rob Eunson ‘a history of the world’s pain distilled to perfect complaint.’ Bernie Cullen A poem by me about how the tour is now part if me, including Hackney and Hull – seems fitting to place it here: Places dress me Small axes lie at my neck in Knutsford. Hull tattoos roses and lisianthus on my skin. Hackney ties my legs with trails of hearts trips me into the sting and pulse of playground knees. Leeds provides heels and feeds patent leather needs. Sarah L Dixon 2015 Never stop at endings! (Susan Castillo 2015)…

Quiet Compere Review of the Year 2016 2/4 – Features Worcester, Halifax and Exeter

Worcester – a hive of poets I met the lovely Steve Wilson, who is in charge of the event at The Hive and stayed in an old inn with sloping floors (who let me eat fish and chips in my room while I got ready because I was short of time). My poetry highlights: Catherine Crosswell’s lively style that jumped between weird and dark and funny made her a perfect person to start the evening. Her tape measure that measures arms lengths is genius. I can safely say Jasmine Gardosi’s take on the space theme to produce a piece about a family dying carbon-monoxide poisoning will probably be the only one. It was! Loved the way Neil Laurenson came on after the strange storm that is Jasmine and kicked off with a gentle intro poem where ‘he was so softly spoken that they thought he was miming’ My non-poetry highlights: Mike Alma’s beautiful war post-cards and his two header poem with Moira. Meeting Adrian Mealing who was as lovely as our email correspondence had suggested. The lines that stuck with me: ‘Our emotions are carried on F sharps and B flats. I let you carry me on melody alone. Cello notes absorb the darkness.’ Nina Lewis From Teaching your daughter to crack eggs ‘Tell her to remember not all broken things are wrong’ Claire Walker Again finding it so hard not include every poet – another showcase! Halifax – A den of poets My poetry highlights: Simon Zonenblick and Freda Mary Davis both performed full space-themed poetry sets to kick off the tour! And Simon’s ‘grottoes holed out of the tangles’. Nasser Hussain’s set and the fact he stood in at such short notice (3 hours!). Loved Gaia Holmes’ idea of going up to the wind-farm to scream. ‘We stopped trying to talk and raised our arms and screamed…….’ My non-poetry highlights: Arriving in Halifax four hours early expecting to find something to do – the only recommendations I got from locals were pubs! Staying with Steve Nash meant having someone to share the mini bottle of prosecco with and the poetry buzz that always keeps me up until at least 1am! We had got to know each other through interviews online – I think his on me ran at about five pages of A4! I then fired some questions back to even things out a bit. He was just as I imagined from his banter and grilling. The lines that stuck with me: From, Lass Grenade– ‘less of a woman and more of a lass grenade’ Geneviève L Walsh on Midnight Shelley. From, Cuckoo ‘They name bars after illness around here’ John Darwin Exeter – A coven of poets – hard to review – I want to mention every one! My co-host, Alasdair Paterson was brilliant and lively and his poetry was entrancing: In Pier Head, Liverpool is ‘a good place to get your heart broken and find a song to patch it.’ My poetry highlights: Hannah Linden’s poem The Stars Are Cherry Stones that Have Lost Their Colour that was about her son and how “The idea/of no one counting up to the beginning of time frightens him” Matt Harvey: After hearing Where earwigs dare where Matt ‘first went freelance, then gently feral.’ I want my own shed to go feral in. His time lapse love story with flowers was genius and reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Magnus Mills. Rebecca Gethin: in Owlography published in Three drops from a Cauldron ‘valleys of their anatomy, tours of their feathers’ ‘calls rip apart the vertebrae of stars pencilled on to the night of this map’. My non-poetry highlights: Staying the Jean Brodie room with separate Brodie bath-room and the fact this meant The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was in my bedside cabinet and I had to buy a second copy to read on the train back. The fabric and flair of the Witches’ Ball that was the same night as our event – they became a little raucous near the end but added something to the night too. The lines that stuck with me: ‘lurking in dark, he was badger, dust-scuffed and branch-strewn, sunrise turned him into a dazzled vole’ Susan Jordan From These threads are the singing: ‘the curse of being melts from you in torrents.’ Gram Joel-Davies ‘all scuttle and fluff’, wild boar ‘all snuffle and bristle’, beavers ‘all chisels and paddles’ Mark Totterdell In case you might have missed this. I am determined to make at least four events happen next year. Pledge here to help and get great rewards: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016  

Quiet Compere 2015 Review of the Year (1/4) – Part 1 – Durham, Oxford and Norwich and an apology to Exeter and Manchester 52 gatherings for no blogs

Firstly, an apology to the poets at both 52 gatherings I organised around the tour dates. I fully intended to write in-depth reviews of these events, but life and other poetry admin got solidly in the way, to a point when it felt like an after-thought. I loved every minute of the Manchester gathering at The Lloyds and the Exeter gathering at The City Gate from the moment Jinny Fisher arrived with a smudge of berry on her new jumper (and proceeded to pour almost a full cup of coffee down her pale tan trousers). Check out the tour video and pledge or share to support Quiet Compere 2016 here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016 Three dates on the 2015 tour were sold out – a couple were small venues and brought their own character and became like an eleventh performer (twelfth if you count the compere!). Durham – A wash of poets The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham was a very cosy space and for the size of audience we were with I was torn between feeling the audience had an exclusivity due to the fact only 40 could attend that event and thinking it was possibly a bit uncomfortable for a two hour poetry event where only half of the audience could be seated. I was comfortable cross-legged on the floor, but I know this is not ideal for everyone. My poetry highlights: Ira Lightman’s dating poems. Ira had become a friend at the beginning of the 2014 tour in a Manchester pub for two hours the day before my first gig away from home in York. He provided much needed distraction and we have stayed in touch since then. I had never seen him perform live until Durham though. Jessica Wortley’s poems from As if we were the trees. Everyone one stunning. With lines like, ‘for her, the width of the sky would never quite be big enough’ and ‘the wind would steal her breath,/ but it would not matter,/ for she would not need words’. I had forgotten about this and it will now be added to my Christmas wish list. http://rubywolfpress.com/authors-2/ My non-poetry highlights: Staying with Judi Sutherland and Big Frank. Main memories involve a massive cheese toastie when we got back from the event and bolognese and wine before I caught the train back. The line that stuck with me: ‘To touch the cache in the dark of you’ (Michael Brown) is a line that grabbed me from and keeps returning. Oxford – a milling of poets Dennis of the Albion Beatnik Bookshop was welcoming and obviously used to running this type of event. I checked where the venue was in the afternoon so I wouldn’t get there late and then totally mistrusted my sense of direction and followed Google walking Maps on my phone which took me to the Pitts River Museum (which was shut) rather than to the venue. I arrived to find half the poets happily milling around in their natural habitat. My poetry highlights: Ben Parker: The magical poem about ‘fashioning your searching hand into an approximation of the lost object’ and ‘the way to hold your hands for love’ was potent. Hearing Samir Guglani read a poetry set: ‘Look at how we start, like fortune-tellers, at the hands. Here by the window, where ward meets world, I examine this man’s, turn them over like found leaves.” Samir Guglani is the curator of the incredible and stunning conference, Medicine Unboxed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_Unboxed I have seen him mastermind this four times, but had only seen him perform one or two poems of his own. It was good to see him outside the Medicine Unboxed mania and relaxed. My non-poetry highlights: So many poets going on afterwards for snacks or meals somewhere local and at least half of us onto a bar until late. Meaning I could share the poetry buzz I often while away on Facebook or looking through feedback forms with a mini bottle of Prosecco in a basic B and B room. Also, Sarah Bryson brought me a small glass vase with wild flowers as a gift. As I was traveling back by train I decided to leave flowers around Oxford on the way home the next day. So I left a rose on a bike, some cow parsley in a phone box and weaved cornflowers through the railings of a disused toilet. The lines that stuck with me: ‘The house is dragged apart by the absence of your smiles.’ Claire Trevien ‘Wealth hopes us into a corner.’ Hilda Sheehan ‘Peat and iodine burn of a single malt drunk from an antique flask’ Alan Buckley Norwich – A ‘variousness’ of poets (I know it is a variety, but I prefer this!) I knew very few poets in Norwich and Julia Webb pointed me the way of most of the poets I found and told me a bit about them all. I attempted to book as a varied a line-up as I could and succeeded. Every poet in the Norwich line-up had a different style, approach and theme. Kept the audience engaged and I thought there were only three types of poet until that night made me reassess my thinking. My poetry highlights: I loved Ramona Herdman’s drink poems: ‘You look like you know the way out of the weight of the world.’ More drink theme from Julia Webb: “You are on fire. You have accidently swallowed the sun… you could drink an ocean. You settle for a double vodka. The Sun approves.” And as well as being an excellent co-host Rufus Lunn gave us The Sentinel: “I swear by sword, or word or kiss. I will stand. Still.” My non-poetry highlights: Finding out the local chippy delivered to the pub The Bird Cage and meeting Rufus (co-host and Robbie (tech)) before the event. A short wander in the lane. I will be back. However, it is not somewhere you can easily find yourself by mistake from Manchester! The lines that stuck with me: “sheets of newspaper cartwheeling to mishap.” Richard Lambert. “I embrace the deeper parts of my unravelling.” Bimble Bee, Huni Bee. “It behaved like any wounded thing.” From Stuart Charlesworth’s medical set. The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’  

A Cheltenham Finale, trial by video and a Sarah who wears space

I will start with a link to my guest blog on Sarah Snell-Pym’s site (more about here below) that explains why the final was in Cheltenham, several reasons including it being the first place I ran an event away from home (somewhere I had never been and knew no-one in the area) four years ago and I have run them yearly since – the night before Medicine Unboxed and a little about what that is and why I keep going back. Guest blog: http://wopowrimo.wigglypets.co.uk/?p=802 Celebration of Quiet Compere so far video and crowd-funder: See the outcome of my one-week self-taught crash-course in video-making in this video about the tours with photos, quotes, chat and the story of the rainbow scarf here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-quiet-compere-poetry-and-gallery-tour-2016/ Kiran Millwood Hargrave: Twitter: @Kiran_MH Kiran told us a story about Tiberius being rubbed to death with scales of a fish. “rubbed til we bled each other out and lay milk-eyed on marble.” I liked how she engaged with the space by mentioning the pomegranate wallpaper and the line “something like happiness misting our epiphany.” I loved her pig with a “tassel of a tail”. Website: http://www.kiranmillwoodhargrave.co.uk/ Chris Hemingway: Chris, so understated with impact here: “maybe all these nothings added up to something and maybe that was me.” And in your poem about Personal space: “fools himself he is passing through, he spreads books across the adjoining seats.” The Supremes “lyric with a sub-text of abandonment.” A poem here: http://threedropspoetry.co.uk/2015/10/07/rumplestiltskin-by-chris-hemingway/ Sharon Larkin: I was impressed Sharon did a full space set. She explored the sexual appetite of an alien in Venit, vidit, fugit ‘He came suddenly. / Departed in an instant / leaving a note: / “Recalled to my native galaxy. / Thanks for all the probings”‘. And from Island Fever: ‘I chart the tide’s ebb, flow / ebb, flow / as a heartbeat’ and ‘hope appears to rise with each dawn’. Her blog, Coming up with the Words, is at: https://sharonlarkinjones.wordpress.com Dan Cooper: I was pulled into the refrain in Infinity Pool: “Mum drives us to school. Dad’s got an Infinity Pool.”. and a phrase that grabbed me was “harnessed in drama”. I have said it over out-loud several times just now – it feels good. “Holy runs thick like Tewkesbury mustard.” and “Forgive me because I have sinned. I took my own sweets into the cinema.” I do that and always feel guilty! Ian Whiteley: I always enjoy Ian’s Craiglockhart and 666 poems and the rhyming of ‘cat in’ and ‘latin’. Ian’s page is here: http://www.thecrowsofalbion.com/ New tracks here: https://soundcloud.com/the-man-at-the-back-1/ Brenda-Read Brown Brenda performed three pieces about landing on the moon, with the line from one of them being: “If I could slip through the lace of clouds below.” and suitably for Quiet Compere “nothing is all there is/ and silence feels as if it’s loud.” She also performed a piece about the space left by a teenager who has moved out: ” broken jewellery, like teenage tears,/ has become one with the carpet near the door.” “It takes me two full days to clear each room and yet they’ll never quite be empty, because I don’t want to forget.” http://www.brendaread-brown.co.uk/ Michael Scott: I love Michael’s punchline in My neighbour speaks in Daily Mail headlines and the way it is easier to avoid conflict and “I said (LONG PAUSE) You missed a bit!”. His poem My Dad painted by Francis Bacon was striking “We wait all night for 3 studies of the human head to dry back into my Dad.” I heard the rooms joint intake of breath at that point. Find out more about Michael here: http://www.littleusherette.com/ Sarah Snell-Pym Sarah is obsessed with space and even bought a space dress and made a space pamphlet of poems for the occasion and gave me one with a dedication in to The Quiet Compere! Brilliant! In her poem Microcosm “in a puddle patterns are repeating. In the stars patterns are completing.” Onward to the edge. ” A code within a code/a mystery that is never solved/It is the universe that unfolds. “We find questions to answer another time.” http://www.snell-pym.org.uk/sarah/ Peter Wyton Peter performed a poem about the beginning of time, Back to the Drawing Board  “They wanted oceans/so I gave them oceans/They befouled them/and made a cesspool of the Seven seas… Now they want space. I’ll give them space/ and in the void/I’ll give it a second try/Any God can make a mistake.” Disposal upon pre-request was funny. ” Let the Severn do what it likes with me. Be a devil. Drop the urn in as well and sod the environment agency.” https://peterwytonpoet.wordpress.com/ Mark Blayney “Playing chess, you stripped to distract me. An illegal move.” Mark’s space was the space left behind by a person: “You left your jeans on the radiator and I woke finding half of you.” Shakespeare results read like Football Pools had a receptive audience! He read a poem about his son: “my son destroys flowers. He does it with such love – bringing me the pieces.” http://markblayney.weebly.com/ Sharon’s husband also took some photos to relieve me of one task in the evening. It was a pleasure to be able to listen, time and take notes, without having to get a good shot (I take about 40 per poet) of each performer. Extra thanks also got to Dan Cooper for his simple and striking design of Quiet Compere logo and flyers. The finale. So this is it for 2015. Or is it? I will be doing my summing up of the year in three parts like I did in 2014. Looks out for these posts in the weeks before New Year’s Eve. Have a Happy festive season. xxx Michael Scott on Quiet Compere format: “it was a lovely intimate night. I love the ‘Quiet Compere’ approach, there is so much fluff and noise attached to poetry that sometimes it just seems like a jumble of achievements and posing, minimalism wins every time for me.”