Oceans of Bisto, sausage rolls and mustard memories – Hebden Blog

Firstly, The Nutclough Studio was a perfect space for a Yorkshire-sized audience, the venue was truly a 12th performer on this night, adding it’s personality to the event and we had a visit from the lovely Fern Bast to check we settled in and again at the end of the evening to see if there were any issues with the venue. Settees, blankets, tall stools, a rainbow light with a tree in it and high windows all added to the evening. And all this before we add a line-up that had been making me a little giddy for a while! I hope to capture a flavour of the evening below in case you couldn’t make it.


Greg White: ‘We tend to spend our lives in the back rooms of ourselves.’  Then from Books  ‘And I, in turn, entrusted you/with my whole self in manuscript.’ and I like that by my reading of The Source, my new poem, I gave him permission to read Leaving, his follicular calligraphy poem. No link available.


Stu Freestone: made us hungry: ‘You remember those crumbly sausage rolls that would just fall apart in your hands, almost like a paper waterfall folding its way through the cracks in your grasp’ and then ‘We are the graphite drawn from those pencil tips sketching picture perfect postcards.’ Hee hee! ‘seasoning pleases me… …I want to bathe in an ocean of Bisto!’ Course he does, I do too! Stu hosts Say Owt Slam! in Leeds. The next event will be on Friday 27th May at The Basment, York. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stu-Freestone-Spoken-Word-Poet/293008464226457


Rose Condo: Rose’s Sexual Assault Helpline poem was inspired and hard to listen to, it was an automated machine making all kinds of judgements about the caller, with no facility for response, talking them out of the claim before they had even made it.  Particularly through the lines questioning the caller’s ‘level of voice or intensity of eye contact.’ ‘Is he just known as an affectionate guy?’ Her Richard III speech was excellent and would have loved to make Shakespeare slam to see everyone’s take on the Bard. http://www.rosecondo.net/ Rose hosts Queenie’s Coffee House Nights in Huddersfield. The next is tonight with Tony Walsh and Alix Alixandra at 7pm.


Winston Plowes: Winston’s war series (first published by Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax in The Writing Room 2016) was moving as it took us through saying Goodbye to someone going to war ‘I’ve buried you like an/acorn in the foxhole/before the winter/burns me.’, how it was like for the person left behind ‘Gagging on every thorny paper kiss… my life is decorated with the long wait for you.’ and the third poem was on the return from war ‘Eyes that blink to orders/since the sand unmade you……you brought a war back with you/In your blood and thunder.’ I had noticed Winston’s Memory Box earlier and thought it was part of The Nutclough décor. He took lines from it in any order they came out and gave us snippets of memories ‘silverfish racing passed the gas-fire.’, ‘mustard mixed with a tiny wooden spoon.’ and ‘flying toys that collect dreams.’ http://www.winstonplowes.co.uk/


Clare Shaw: When thinking about the recent Hebden floods I had thought about the things, shops and homes lost, but not the people and that death was part of it. The resilience around Hebden and the messages of Thanks on windows made me cry and smile, Clare did too. The directness: ‘I am that one car, floating. I am the phone’s blank screen. I am the neighbour with the cigarette. I am too wet to smoke. I am the mother knee-deep. Clare also brought out one I remember from when I first heard her read from ‘Straight Ahead’ Bloodaxe, ten years ago, in which the protagonist dared  ‘to dance the wrong kind of dance with the wrong kind of man. To dance the wrong kind of dance with a girl.’   http://www.clareshaw.co.uk/


I got heckled for heckling! Apparently, I might have been a Quiet Compere, but I was a not so quiet audience member when Winston was hosting. The audience were so warm and open I decided to perform a new poem. Not my usual style or subject matter.  I am going to take this to Manchester monthly slam (Word War at 3MT) on June 7th. Terror and good butterflies mix in a giddy cocktail of anticipation.


Brendan McPartlan: I loved The Madman in the Corner, Brendan introduces us to the Madmen in the corner and gets us into the centre of the room and tells us “Well this room has got four corners and/I’ve shown you everyone,/so you’re probably thinking that the madman’s gone/ Well sorry, you’d be wrong/because tonight I have moved to the middle of the room because I wanted to talk to you.’ Love the family love in the Lenny poem ‘The boy catches me watching/he smiles a smile full of peas/ and says “More more more!’ This made me cry.  No link.


Hannah Stone: Hannah’s set had so many stand-out lines for me, why say pregnant when you can say ‘her belly heaves with legitimate pride and unfamiliar hormones.’

From ‘Reunion of the broken parts’, ‘Who can find one deity to hold it all together while his flayed back knits itself together.’

Hannah’s collection, Lodestone, is now available through Stairwell books here:  http://www.stairwellbooks.co.uk/html/collections.html#Lodestone

Matthew Hedley Stoppard:

Accents are hard to describe, but not to Matthew, ‘Round East Midlands vowels, as if my head’s been shoved in the hollow of an oak.’

‘Bruises beneath feathers, while holding a rook in a headlock’ made me smile.


Becky Cherriman: From Austerity: ‘You woke one morning, aching with it.’ Becky read a number of poems from her pamphlet from Mother’s Milk, Echolocation http://beckycherriman.com/?p=1142/

One of these was All princes were monsters once which held the line about her son: ‘It is as though this is the first accurate mirror/I have come across.” Wow!


David Jarman: Dave’s Stuff poem got me this time. ‘It’s form fell apart, it’s structure fell away’. ‘cut into the bark, stark, square, sketchy letters.’ ‘For we are never nothing!’ These lines in particular grabbed me by my slightly drunken ears and made me listen.  I also love his people on the route to work poem Against the Tide: ‘middle-aged looking five year old with her Mum.’ ‘nothing can wake me like mist on the tracks in the morning.’ http://www.jarmanpoetry.com/

The next day I spent an hour with mallards, pigeons and ravens  by the River Wharfe thinking about the floods and nothing and everything, watching the ravens have water baths. Then I had chocolate cake and wine and caught my train home. Thank you Hebden.

Quiet quiet LOUD! at Chorlton Arts Festival with Steve Nash and Midnight Shelley May 24th 2016

Stev Nash
Steve Nash is a writer, lecturer and terrible musician based in Yorkshire. He won the Saboteur award for Performer of the Year in 2014 and his first collection, ‘Taking the Long Way Home’, is available now from Stairwell Books. His next book ‘The Calder Valley Codex’ will be published later this year by Calder Valley Poetry, and he strongly suspects his Guniea pigs are plotting against him.

Midnight Shelley

Midnight Shelley has an infectious passion, irrepressible love and rarely stays still. She pulls you into stories and you are compelled to go along.

6 minute support spots available. £4 in advance or on the door to cover promotion, printing and transport and refreshments for the guests.


‘Not Human Today’ in The Interpreter’s House #61

Not human today


My head is the sun.

from a distance it is round

up close it is volatile

and makes less sense


My torso often gives away

gargoyle thoughts

but today it is an angel

beautiful with hate


I have one limb

stolen from a stone circle

it insists on pagan ritual

makes me a detached observer

of candles and sacrifice


My elk legs are robust

as the hope that endures

they transport me to tomorrow

while my head burns


Quiet quiet LOUD! with copland smith and Hilary Robinson – Tuesday 12th April 2016

Guests: Hilary Robinson and Copland Smith.

Hilary Robinson:

A Saddleworth resident, Hilary has been writing poetry since 2008. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Hilary has been involved in several poetry projects, including Manchester Cathedral’s ‘Write the Cathedral’ and, most recently, A New Manchester Alphabet which was published in December 2015.
Hilary enjoys writing from her own experience and has been published by The Interpreter’s House, Avis and Beautiful Dragons Press. She has been long listed in the 2016 YorkMix competition and is involved in two collaborations with composers — the Rosamond Prize in Manchester and the Leeds Lieder Competition. Hilary loves attending workshops, readings and being a member of a local poetry Stanza and she is one of the Seven Spelks — a poetry group fuelled by friendship!

copland smith:

copland smith, always small case, poet, musician, playwright, Guardian letter-writer and creative writing teacher. Born in Liverpool in 1953, now lives in Manchester, as do his 4 daughters. • twice a runner-up in The National Poetry Competition. • published in many magazines including Ambit, Outposts, Orbis, The Rialto, North, The Cricketer, The South Manchester reporter… • first collection of poems, one-eyed seller of garlic, was published in 1994. currently writing a book called “The 42 rules of writing”. Rule 42 is Ignore all earlier rules. • He runs Manky Poets in Chorlton, Manchester. 3rd Friday every month.

Support Poets: Rachel Davies, Fokkina McDonnell, Penny Sharman, more TBC.

6 minute support spots available. £3 on the door to cover promotion and printing costs and refreshment for the guests.

The Quiet Compere and Thursday Lates at Whitworth Gallery – 4th February 2016

Firstly, massive Crowd-funder thanks and shout-out to Mary R Crumpton who could not make it on the night.

Secondly, a Big Crowd-funder hug to all that have supported to make this happen.

I planned a workshop and made suggestions of art-work and how attendees could use it to create a piece, pointers rather than directions. I wrote two pieces in this time and performed them both on the night. One was in response to a Greenhouse with words on the outside and light shining from within and the second was in response to a piece that was a map, but if you looked carefully the contours made up names at their highest points.

The Grand Hall lived up to its name with tall ceilings and windows and a screen with Quiet Compere logo on it. We even had a stage for me to attempt to fall off between introducing performers! Many of the audience were not regular poetry goers and had positive feedback and said they will go to poetry events again.

Reece Williams:
Reece told us ‘spin doctors still have my dreams on quarantine’. and that ‘I was already spent on grief. my web of mourning was already drawing’. Also the phrase ‘arsenal of ambition’ was a powerful phrase when used in a poem about a young black boy who was killed.

copland smith:
copland treated us to three art-themed poems. From copland’s piece, How to paint a poem: ‘first you hammer out the framework… …as if you’ve never seen the world before. Do not let people watch, they will say that world does not exist.’ and the ‘brushes dunked in clouded spirit.’

Anna Tuck:
Anna was assured and cheerful and made me cry with her poem about wanting more from lovers. ‘I don’t want to be one part of a roving eye.’ and ‘I want to be loved up full, made whole with you halves.’

Ken Evans:
Ken performed a response piece to an Edvard Munch woodcut (1899) ‘The Lonely Ones’ from The Whitworth collection – which depicted two people on a beach looking out to sea.
‘The only man-made thing seen/from space is the distance/between a man and a woman’ ‘she…shorn of understanding as the stone/that holds him.’


Ken Evans first collection ‘The Opposite of Defeat’, is due out with Eyewear in September.


Leanne Moden:
The promise in Leanne’s line ‘If you need me to I will lace my fingers to build your first step up.’ This is an assurance we could all do with sometimes. ‘we’re luminous with ambition.’ And Leanne talked of listening to music and it being a way to ‘take breaks from the aching of everyday lives.’

Blog here: http://tenyearstime.blogspot.co.uk/

Kate Bendelow:
I particularly liked the lines about ‘catch the wind and smother it until it is barely a cough.’ and in the poem My Girls a parent being as ‘pliable as Playdoh.’

Simon Howarth:
Simon’s ‘First Date’: ‘He cuts his pie as if his Mum’s watching.’ and his poem You’ve been to Bali, but you’ve never put a cigarette out on your arm. always gets me. ‘You’ve never seen the city from a bird-high lip.’ ‘cried yourself inside out watching the sun set and rise and set again … maybe if you had you’d feel more alive.’

Kate Garrett:
I knew Kate would take us into worlds of fairies and magic. She didn’t disappoint:
‘fairytale blooming / in the scrape of her nails / against my cheek.”, ” I love the alliteration and rhythm of: ‘we’re months and miles away from Monday night.’ and “And if the truth / had a bouncing soul / like my best pair of boots”

Editor at: http://threedropspoetry.co.uk/
First collection
‘The Density of Salt’  http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/kate-garrett/4591581784

Hannah Mackay:
From Roast Potatoes ‘For you, walnut tart is an act of devotion; I need more explicit expressions of emotion.’ ‘ and in Lavender – about parenting “Cross little boy, Red face Curly hair…I’m searching for something, Something I can give you; I can give you The smell of purple.”

Melanie Rees:
Mel gifted us a Lowry poem ‘with a tick-tock beat inside my chest, I understand Lowry’s need for vagueness.’ ‘so he painted love in the red of his matchstick men.’ ‘at shift end, going home to dance.’ I am entranced by the idea of holding a wasp: ‘I held a wasp. I wanted to hold the sun – one time.’

Melanie’s collection with Sara Miller: http://www.flapjackpress.co.uk/page20.htm/

This was a large venue with an attendance of around 100, high ceilings, a mic, overhead projector, stage and ten performers.

The next event will be at The Nutclough Tavern in Hebden Bridge, a much smaller venue, cosy and beautifully decorated on a smaller scale. There will be no stage, possibly no mic, definitely no need for overhead projection. There will be ten poets, an appreciative, if smaller, audience and a compere who enjoys the differences between venues and settings as much as she enjoys the variety in the performances and audience sizes.