I could get used to having a committee of six (?) to plan for me. Caroline swapped a workshop (I came out with two strong pieces I have already performed) for a Quiet Compere t-shirt and drove me to get ale and to the venue. We arrived there ten minutes before doors to find the PA being set up and Antony on a book stall and a dozen people happy to help us set out tables and chairs (there was a detailed chair stacking diagram and 8 part instruction list that made me smile). Kim co-hosted beautifully and Mark morphed into the tenth poet at very short notice. As soon as we started there were complaints that the Quiet Compere was too loud. The mic was too loud, it was turned down and normal service was resumed. David Borrott: In his poem Wolf Fell, mountains were ‘air-fuddled in the distance’ and in Pigeons ‘pulling together to become a spun set of dancers…each giving way to the general pattern to become something more than themselves.’ we are treated to a pigeon dance. http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/shop/901/porthole Antony Christie: took us to a mythical house, Applegarth where we met ‘a threatening blackbird, stiff as a dowager’ and ‘last Autumn’s windfall sheds pale worms.’ His comment on the work that needed doing: ‘It is whole. That is all we can say.’ And in his Ontario poem: ‘the new ice sings to itself.’ www.antony-christie.com Neil Curry: I feel a gig has been a success if I go away having learnt something. Now I know Ulverston had foundry and rope makers. Sir John Barrow “wanted to be known/ as the man who filled in / those last little gaps in the Atlas” and I passed his Hoad monument both before and after the poem. From his poem Touch Wood : ‘Trees don’t even burn the same. / Some are generous with their heat / but give it out slowly…Nothing else on earth can be said to still look beautiful when it’s dead’ : www.neilcurry.com Kerry Darbishire: From Army Blanket which won first prize in Grey Hen poetry competition the concentration and affection in the line ‘fold it like a lover’s jumper’. There were a number of painting inspired poems and here was one about life-drawing called Posing for Andrew: ‘bearing stillness in failing sunlight’. Kerry’s collection is called A Lift of Wings and is available here: http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/kerry-darbishire/4586916905 Caroline Gilfillan: The line about her mother being ‘protractor angles of elbows and knees’ struck me as this is often what children feel like too. All edges and corners and awkward. In her poem Things he loved the line ‘eyes limpid with chalky loss’ shone out. Her two most recent collections are Yes (2010) and Pepys (2012) both published by Hawthorn Press. www.carolinegilfillan.co.uk Barbara Hickson: I enjoyed the contrast of ‘heather and bracken, smoke and song.’ in Traveller. At Loughrigg Tarn we are ‘like a reflection on a lake, one cloud and we’re gone.’ No link available. Maggie How: dedicated her set to her father and it was a beautiful and moving tribute ‘I am the sunlight on the bar-tops of trees… I weave thoughts with the evening mist’ The heart-breaking phrase ‘You smudge my heart with your art of dying.’ I also found out a lonning is a small country lane. No link available. Ayelet McKenzie: From BLACK MAGIC: The ‘night/creeps in like a black widow spider,/devouring the daylight /as she goes…to form a rainbow…/arcing over the wilderness of the earth,/this planet that will not stay for ever.’ Ayelet’s set was punchy and there were a lot of short pieces. No link available. Sue Millard: Wow! Lines from Driver’s Girl: ‘I will let you go, trusting/ the otherness that swallows you.’ ‘the road, the day/ and all its business claims you.’ http://www.suemillard.f9.co.uk/ Mark Carson: I loved poem Synaestheticae (first published in Brittle Star 2014). ‘This poem is written in oils, I have been adding layers since May.’ And in Canafy, lighten up! we get ‘the tapered ignition of the dawn’. Beautiful. No Link Available. Kim Moore’s wolf poem was one of my highlights of the evening. ‘No sound I make will still be made of words’ is a stunning line, much stronger than the phrase ‘speechless’! ‘the sound of their slow breathing fills her house.’ Kim lifted me up and carried me into the story. https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/ A Poem and a Pint page is here: http://www.apoemandapint.co.uk/ Quiet Compere Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quiet-Compere/523455994408580 ENTS24 page here for future Quiet Compere gigs: https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/the-quiet-compere
I had checked out the location earlier and bobbed in to say Hi to Dennis at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop. I gave myself plenty of time to get there. Then my phone maps app took me on a scenic route by changing my destination to The Pitt Rivers Museum. This meant I arrived back at the point I had started out from twenty minutes later and set back off in the opposite direction arriving at the Albion Beatnik a few minutes before doors. I bought a glass of wine and started meeting poets and audience and settled after ten minutes of this. Sarah Bryson: Sarah’s take on the space theme, as the space left by an Aunt’s dementia and subsequent death, was powerful. Her mirror poem was well-executed. ‘Outside, under a dull sky/fat white feathers accumulate/covering the tarmac’s black gaps as I watch.’ which was mirrored at the end with ‘Covering the tarmac’s black gaps as I watch/fat white feathers accumulate/outside, under a dull sky.’ Samir Guglani: In the poem Fireworks – a striking space-themed stanza ‘a constellation of freckles/as if you were the sky/or an inversion of it, reached for,/ lived in but always just gone.’ captures a lot. Then in Fingerprints (a recurring theme of the night), ‘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: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/medicine-unboxed-mortality-tickets-16304418956 Jennifer McGowan: Jennifer treated us to a full space-themed set. From her poem Lightyears: ‘So we could prove we tried./We shone and consumed like suns/ but by the time your light reached me,/you was gone.’ Jennifer’s observation time flowing differently inside with the Italian frescos rang true: In the poem Snapshot – Yesterday: ‘I smudge/my fingerprint under Eve’s foot, here./You will see it, and know’. The idea of leaving a fingerprint for someone to find makes me smile. www.jenniferamcgowan.com Alan Buckley: I could taste the ‘peat and iodine burn of a single malt drunk from an antique flask’ and I think the first place I appreciated single malt was at the Arvon week Alan and I met at seven years ago. ‘All that/ matters is the recognising touch,/one skin finding its home/ in the other.’ https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/poets-in-oxford/alan-buckley/ Hilda Sheehan: The line ‘wealth hopes us into a corner.’ says so much about the election outcome in five words. ‘I have washing-up to finish and a front page to believe in.’ Hilda’s pamphlet Frances and Martine is available through Dancing Girl Press: http://www.dancinggirlpress.com/ http://www.poetryswindon1.blogspot.co.uk/p/news.html Penelope Kease: I enjoyed this take on the theme as personal space. I love the vision in Water Meadows of the old willows ‘at the ramshackle edges/ of the water and the land’. My Dad’s a balloon, my mother’s the string started with the lines ‘She’ll fray and break and on that day he’ll float/into new adventurous skies’. Claire Trévien: The space a person has inhabited take on the theme captivated me. ‘The house is dragged apart by the absence of your smiles.’ ‘I still sing lyrics to the wrong tune/and imagine you, furiously rescuing/each damaged chorus in your hands/like a small snail.’ The idea of skin that is ‘littered with deaths’ and the menace or promise of the line ‘only the young know my tune./and it swallows their hearts.’ http://www.clairetrevien.co.uk/ http://www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk/index.php/2013/02/the-shipwrecked-house/ Sarah Watkinson: Her poem about ‘Birds being made of light.’ came second in the 2014 Battered Moons competition. ‘Time still comes in lines, life in boxes of dates.’ we don’t know what time is, so we talk of it in terms of space. ‘My father’s bear‘ lives on my desk now. But back then, as part of a memory of her father; ‘Home from the army, you took Bear from your pocket, placed him on the pub table like a small portable comrade . . .’ – the poem came out at the end of May in Pennine Platform, issue 77. https://sarahcwatkinson.wordpress.com/ Ben Parker: Ben introduced his set with a preamble about Van Gogh sketching views from windows ‘faithful to the ordinary’ I enjoyed his randomly numbered titles – after the first that was tied to a real flat number. 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. http://www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk/ Sarah Maitland-Parks: ‘If I were to make a promise, it would be to somehow make separation beautiful.’ Wow! Also, the idea in At the Checkout of the people you share all with at bus-stops or school-gates (when you need to) being ‘emergency services’. This latter poem is here in The Stare’s Nest: http://thestaresnest.com/2015/01/14/sarah-maitland-parks-two-poems/comment-page-1/ http://shinynewcomputer.blogspot.co.uk/ Sarah Bryson brought me a small glass vase with wild flowers as a gift. As I was travelling 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. Look out for a poem soon called Leaving flowers in Oxford. Also, more than half of the people in the Albion Beatnik decamped to a local curry house and we had wine and food. Love an end to the evening when I can let go of the being in charge and I am always keen to share the post-gig poetry buzz.
Poems about hospital and kindness swamped this night and this was not surprising a week after an election shock and in a Labour Club. More poems about the good and the kind, I say. More poems about the good and the kind, I say. Yey! for nourishers and everyday heroes and random acts of kindness. Ailsa Holland: In her poem about the uncelebrated heroes and things not in the news specifics add to the news report feel along with formal language. The roads and names of those involved make it feel possible, not just an imagined utopia. Someone stole into a garden on Paradise Street/discreet as an assassin/ took down the clean washing/folded it with cold-blooded precision/ and left it in a basket under the back porch/just before the rain started./ (from ‘Fixer’ Strikes at Heart of Community) Find Ailsa here: www.moormaidpress.co.uk https://about.me/ailsaholland Midnight Shelley: In her poem Come scream with me she spoke of “words dedicated to those whose mouths never allow them to share their story.” “Come scream with me!/Clockwork the hand/heartbeat the rhyme.” In her love poem to a best friend Alex Park in the Early Hours: The Forever Space: ‘A piece of me will always be in the forever space with you.” is an interpretation of space intertwined with memory. https://www.youtube.com/user/MidnightVerses Charlotte Ansell: addressed the post-election malaise with: “This is why we can’t have nice things. It took just weeks to demolish the Bohemia… They will smash up what even in the first place wasn’t much…” then a line about the management “preferring to announce the problem than mend the broken glass. Maybe it is also an epitaph to hope.” I do so hope not. Charlotte’s two collections available here: https://www.flippedeye.net/ John Mills: John introduced Parkinson’s Disease at the outset and the fact he might ‘vibrate gently’. Little Louis, a poem about a brain-damaged child was tough on the audience and performer. The sing-song rhythm of it made the truth even more shocking. The damage happened because his Dad hit his head against a wall when he was 12 days old. I have written in my notes BASTARD!!!!! John and Liz are in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5QCnZ2ASAA Sarah Thomasin: I loved “The Quiet Woman’ and the story about the bus-stop being labelled the The Quite Woman and the reason she was Quiet is because her head chopped off. One way of stopping a compere going on, I suppose. In her space-themed poem, Horoscope, we are instructed to “look up at the sky/past the sequins in velvet./Just try it.” Her poem about misogynists wasting away because they can’t make sandwiches without women brought some levity the room. https://wordgeekery.wordpress.com/ Mavis Moog: While listening to her poem Plum Sunday I could smell the mint at my feet and the feel the weight of the plums as I reached up to test their ripeness. I also like to learn things and the Araucaria Monkey Puzzle tree cross-words poem captivated me. No Link Available. Ruth Aylett: Ooo! The scale of space here: “The long exhale of the universe/always moving apart/never coming back together.” And more space in Ruth’s Turing poem : “Write space and space and space. Where logic is not decidable. Death is.” http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html Joy France: In Joy’s set we received broken biscuits and patchouli soaked poems. The poem is in my notebook and I can still smell it now. I loved the fact Joy had done a haiku for both themes – Volume and Space. I had included both 2014 and 2015 theme in the email (Oops). See Joy here: https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=joy%20france%20home%20truths Chris Woods: Chris read two poems about not being there. Firstly, a space-themed one On not seeing Halley’s Comet and later on in his set about turning up the wrong week for a poetry event ‘enjoying the wrong time again’ Spontaneous nights are often the best. In Black Holes he described people who are “taking everything from everything.” No link available. Claire-Jane Carter could not make the event due to a last minute emergency. I read a few more poems to fill this time. The audience enjoyed the mix of styles and themes. After the event and a pint with poets and punters I started looking through 100 photos of Mid Shelley for one where she is still. I bought an extra half while I laughed to myself in the corner of the Labour Club about how blurry she could be.
The Laundrette was a unique venue. The venue runs as a Laundrette until 6pm and then sets up chairs to become a gig space. They have a variety of ales and sweet snacks and were very welcoming. These photos will not be like any others on the tour, unless a venue cancels on the last minute and we end up performing in someone’s kitchen in front of their washer, always a possibility I suppose. Jane Burn: performed ‘Worm’, the first poem in middle English to appear at a Quiet Compere event. Hear Jane perform ‘Worm’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RElc3K3l5FA Michael Brown: In ‘From Hungerford Bridge, Looking East.’ ‘To touch the cache in the dark of you’ is a line that grabbed me and keeps returning. My favourite line was ‘half-way between the words we speak and the middle of this street is where we kiss, where we meet.’ Michael straddles the rhythm of performance poetry and the careful redrafting of the seasoned page poet. Find his pamphlet here: http://www.eyewearpublishing.com/products-page/books/undersong-2/ Jessica Wortley: wrote about ‘hair that fingered outwards like patterns of ice’ in poem ‘Immersion’. And in a later poem the lines: ‘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’ Find her pamphlet ‘As if we were the trees’ by Ruby Wolf Press here: http://rubywolfpress.com/ Blog: http://www.dancingbeepoetry.wordpress.com Catherine Graham: kept coming out of the poems with asides from her mother. These made me smile Catherine’s honesty about agoraphobia was refreshing and telling us about sending out the other Catherine. Catherine’s set sang in parts and her delivery sings throughout. Her collection ‘Things I Will Put In My Mother’s Pocket’ is available through Indigo Dreams Publishing through Catherine’s author page here: http://www.indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/catherine-graham/4574225826 Ira Lightman: His intro made me smile (the ghost of Asa Maddison – future). This time Lancelot was on a date and the poem had the line ‘How could this work? The commute was a fortnight by horse and you’re married.’ We were treated to a full new set. See Ira here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auNAbGJ5irI Catherine Ayres: She promised to bring us from a pit of despair to a place of vague hope. I think this was achieved. Quite a few date poems in the evening. She performed a quite terrifying date poem. Then she introduced me to the word: Hiraeth. It means a longing for the past culture of a place. No link available Asa J. Maddison: Asa described a Manc attacker as someone who had ‘his waistline weakened by pastry’. Asa is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ebaWD6zy5k Judi Sutherland: The line in ‘Work Gypsy’. ‘every time – all that was left behind was love and settlement.’ is so sad. Judi described UKIP as ‘the stag night with more beer and fewer hats’. Judi co-edits Stare’e Nest as, a site for ‘poems for a more hopeful world’. http://thestaresnest.com/ Arwen Webb: This Arwen’s first performance ever. Her first poem ‘The Gob’ as touching and there was a sadness that the heart consistently stayed silent while the gob and other body parts did their thing, which eventually meant “Brain was silent, Gob shut up. Heart broke.” I also enjoyed ‘Inspired’, a McGough inspired poem. No link available. Sheree Mack: I am assuming Sheree chose her poem purposefully with the line ‘making suds on the surface of the water. All the time singing her song, lost in her own world.’ Because we were performing in a Laundrette. In here poem ‘The Arsonist’ the protagonist says: ‘ I love the way they dance. It’s slow at first. Tantalisingly slow’. http://www.shereemack.com/Poetry.html Judi Sutherland invited me to stay with her and was a wonderful host. Making a massive cheese sandwich when we got back in after the gig. On Saturday, before I left, her husband, Frank made a delicious Bolognese served with chilled wine that was an unexpected treat and much appreciated before the train ride back.
The first gig on the tour has to be a bit special and I made it local, but not as comfortably local as last time. I had met all but two of the performers and knew three well enough to count them as friends (they might disagree). A complacent place to be. I had a performer pull out with about 18 hours’ notice and managed to replace her three hours before the gig. The closest I’ve been to running a ten poets ten minutes with nine performers yet. I got to Halifax four hours early and the general response to this was, you go here too early, why did you do that? I meant to explore a bit, but mainly found pubs and takeaways. I had a slow pint in The Railway Tavern thanks to William Thirnk-Gaskell for that direction and they had my favourite pint Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin J. Simon Zonenblick: I love the fact both Simon and Freda kicked off the tour superbly with fully space-themed sets (I set an optional prompt of SPACE). Simon is also the second person who has mentioned Vasco Popa to me in the last week. On my look into list now 🙂 Sun ‘I am tangled emotions into one. Soils vibrate with slugs alive with hunger.’ Love the fact his tree-house dens were Jedi Houses. – ‘grottoes holed out of the tangles’ https://sites.google.com/site/ryburnramblings/home Nasser Hussain: Nasser stood in at two hours’ notice and was amazing. In ‘Outside the Box’ I love the fact he is a teacher, but ‘the student is still in me.. In ‘How to be brown now.’ The perfect creepiness of the line: ‘What if I could imitate your voice perfectly?’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmZgVtNzKvI https://burningeyebooks.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/new-title-out-now-boldface-by-nasser-hussain/ Geneviéve L Walsh: I always love ‘You sometimes fall off chairs’ poem, the fact ‘women who are walking contradictions are endearing.’ Ah! and her ‘Lass Grenade’ poem – less of a woman and more of a lass grenade’. I’ve only met Mid once and her energy and her poetry are legendary for a reason. Midnight Shelley is due to be a guest at Chesterfield Quiet Compere on Friday 15th May 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t-Of-yrRXc Gaia Holmes: Loved the orange raincoat ‘Loud and kistch as a Warhol tangerine.’ and the idea of going up to the wind-farm to scream. ‘We stopped trying to talk and raised our arms and screamed…….’ https://gaiaholmes.wordpress.com/ Drew Lawson: ‘When we were hipsters.’ Amuses me, mostly because I live in Chorlton The idea of ‘making your feelings out of plasticine’ is so Chorlton! ‘Trying hard not to end up in Stretford, but ending up their anyway’ I love the mention of the local places, especially when they are more local to me than the audience ‘ We laughed in the face of the Apocalypse and hid in blanket forts until it went away “kids that didn’t know when to quit/ who laughed in the face of the apocalypse/ (then hid under blanket forts until it went away)” www.andrewlawsonpoet.wordpress.com Steve Nash: Steve warned us there would be ‘no filthy songs’. He told us he wanted to have books with folded pages and to look like they’ve been read. ‘Show me a book with scars’. He told us a story about a soldier who spent 22yrs in the army and his one scar was from a penguin. ‘You thought twice before waking up a feral dog to see your reflection in its eyes’ http://starlighttocasualmoths.blogspot.co.uk/ John Darwin: In ‘Cuckoo’ there were some stirking lines: ‘They name bars after illness around here’ and ‘a town full of strangers who self-medicate’ is so bleak. He performed show-pleaser ‘I just like art galleries and getting pissed.’ Give it a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLZxTgl6r8I Freda Mary Davis: I was amazed and impressed that both Freda and Simon did full Space-themed sets. Freda tackled inner space and the space between people, taking the optional space prompt in interesting directions. In her poem Alice I loved the line ‘swooping close to human’. No Link. Keith Hutson: Told us a poem about a ‘dame-shaped crater’ – ‘ the sea sneaks into everything, takes shape as dawn begins another morning’. Keith has recently won third place in The Yorkshire Prize of the Poetry Business Competition. Keith is in Kim Moore’s blog here: https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/sunday-poem-keith-hutson-2/ Char March: I was fascinated by the detail in Char March’s pieces, like the fact that Hitler used green ink (especially as I bought a green pen last week). After noticing purple and green in her set, I want to go back in my head and discover a full rainbow hidden in poems. She used the word purple 35 times in the poem rant below about colours a presiding officer can and cannot wear: http://thestaresnest.com/2015/03/09/char-march-the-presiding-officers-choice-of-clothing-narrows/ http://www.charmarch.co.uk/ Firm of Poets video here, featuring Genevieve L. Walsh and John Darwin: https://vimeo.com/114012604 Facebook page for them here: https://www.facebook.com/AFirmofPoets Most of the audience stayed for a beer or two and there was excellent post-gig banter. John Darwin is hosting Write Out Loud Sale on Tuesday 17th March and Steve Nash is a guest. Don’t miss this if you live nearby. I will be there with my ale goggles and non-compering hat on. Say Hi! The other special guest is Anna Percy. https://www.facebook.com/events/1406049146369735/ I stayed at Steve’s house and revelled in sharing the Prosecco and the post-gig buzz, rather than sipping the Prosecco alone, turning off Eastenders in a scruffy B+B and reading through the feedback forms until 1am. The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’