Belated blog due to access issues to my website – Events were 1st-4th June 2023
Workshop – games and play-themed went well.
Lots of random photos from the 3 days I spent at the festival below:
Quiet Compere Showcase – Rochester Library
A brilliant afternoon with 50% guests I had not before and I am hopeful all our poetry paths cross again soon. A few lines I enjoyed from each of the poems shared below. A big thanks to Richard Cooper for sharing Rosemary McLeish poems.
I loved Richard’s freshly printed t-shirt. The poem that struck me most was the Janet and John one. The way it played with the structure and kept the simplicity but ramped up the darkness and rebellion. This seemed very Rosemary from what I know of her.
Lines here that particularly leapt out at me were: ‘all the headstones looked drunk or broken like closing time.’ And from Just Walking: ‘I am not actually going anywhere. I am just wearing out my shoes.’
Wow! Description of pub as ‘an enclosure for the supposedly strong.’ I have also made a note that looks like ‘inebriated by beckoning time’ and Jon has not let me know if this as right or not so I will leave this as the quote 🙂
I enjoyed the way Sarah’s set took us on a journey from Rochester to Ramsgate. I enjoyed the visual impact of ‘the flat of palm on cold’ touching the stone of the cathedral and ‘daylight putting itself away’.
Selection of photos of showcase performers and the open mic:
Thanks so much to Sam, Barry, Medway River Lit funders and all volunteers (plus a big thanks to Anne-Marie Jordan).
We did it!! And I made it to everyone and thoroughly enjoyed splitting some of the responsibility and tasks with my co-hosts and Nina, Super online event Tech. Co-hosts were sorted so everything could go ahead if either of us went down with COVID but we were very lucky and I caught it in a break from tour time in mid July and we made all nine dates with full complement of co-hosts too.
Co-Host Emma Purshouse
I love Emma’s Black Country words. I definitely use some of them, ‘mithering’ and ‘firtle’ and I wonder if these were passed down by my mum’s family. The rhymes in Art school Annual picnic are inspired and this piece is brilliantly crafted. ’Salavador Dali/Harley’ and ‘Van Eyck/on a borrowed bike’. Emma finished her set with a walrus singing song which made everyone rush off to listen to singing walruses in the break 😊
Mark’s delivery was just the right side of languorous which had us waiting for what was next… The poems were sensual with exquisite detail, holding us in the moment of the poem. The keying of a car, an action that could not be taken back ‘so he applies the key-tip until the metal concedes a slow dimple’. And in the nettle-pit alone and ‘the only sound was the slow laugh of a crowd and wind like applause through ash trees’.
Jennifer A. McGowan
Oh! Shrapnel was such a fitting poem for Remembrance weekend. Measured and personal. And in Jennifer’s love poem, The Boy who went back to Singapore ‘we’d both slept through, waking with imprints of the other on our faces.’ Such variety here in a short set.
The incantation of ‘Kallax, Klept, Empak, Ransire, Finskuron’ made me smile. I loved The Beekeeper’s wife and am hoping it will be in the Wordsmithery Bee Anthology. After following a lot of Mark’s recent American adventures, I enjoyed ‘New York state of mind’.
I was so glad George could make it to the event. His univocal poem was beautifully-formed. His rhythm, repetition and delivery style made for an engaging and lively set. I especially enjoyed The Imp of Distraction and The Yarn Spinner. My favourite stanza is:
‘He used to work for MI5, but he keeps that on the low
He used to be a roadie, went on tour with Status Quo
He used to be a boxer, trained in the States with Smokin’ Joe
Plus, he played all the instruments on Enya’s Orinoco Flow
He’s the Yarn-Spinner, you know him’
One of the massive bonuses of hosting online events is the chance to share poems like Misophonia on the page. The way it is chaotic and then pulled tightly back by the repeated mantra ‘make manifest’ and with lines like
‘you can corn dolly their hearts,
twists like straw,
set intentions like love potions.’
Alex the mascot having fun loitering about the mic and drinking ale.
There was definitely a witchy and magical theme running throughout the event and after a short break I read a few poems and we continued with Helen Ivory’s witches:
Oh yes! I loved the fact Helen shared so many of her new witch poems with us. Th incantatory nature of her poetry was compelling. Especially in lines like ‘you cannot sing grass sweet’ and ‘a quiet pandemonium emanated from the apple.’ I enjoyed the brevity and precision of Scry and can’t wait for the new book.
I was hoping to see Linda at a real-life gig but when she couldn’t make it I was delighted she agreed to perform at one of the online events instead. Linda’s attention to detail is exemplary, particularly in the Ancoats poem. My Dad is from Ancoats and I could just visualise everything. I loved the Philomel poem stuffed full of bird sounds too.
Yes! A set by Penny after seeing the process of her poems being crafted in workshops so many times (Penny has become an online friend over lockdown). And more witchiness and fairy tale from Penny including the line ‘my lying tongue is tart with poisoned apple craving.’ And ‘Inside me, moor fires burn brighter than ever.’ And this block of text from Uncharted Waters is glorious:
a truth which could not be stopped
nor changed, nor denied.
He left behind in the untidy cabin
enough of both the truth and lies
to splice his tale together.
Jack’s loss haiku was beautiful and haunting and I loved the idea of ‘Hallmark-induced sunstroke’. I felt like that in stuffy, heated charity shops when I was younger. Stonewall was necessary and well-crafted piece., especially this section:
‘Larry Grayson, shut that door!
And to top it off,
thanks to Alan Turing
we even won the fucking war.’
I enjoyed the playfulness as family/cultural history embedded in If Shakespeare was Jamaican. and I love the line ‘I still like listening to song in a language I don’t know’. I listened to some Ukrainan song and Ukranian poetry with and without translation at an event recently and will look out for more bilingual and multilingual events in future.
One of the massive advantages of hosting an online gig now is that I can bring all the people I have discovered the work of or learnt and heard more readings by in lockdown could all be brought together and make more connections with each other.
Thanks to all for making the tour possible – venues, poets, co-hosts and supporters and ACE and of course audiences.
Still to come this year
Readaround Saturday 10th December 5-630pm FREE event on Zoom to make up for missing open mic sections online (as events would have run too long with open mic section).
Group poem made up from lots of single words audience members have given me – I will perform this on Facebook but I have to write to first!
Lots of final report writing.
Coming in 2023
The Quiet Compere will be hosting events at River Lit in June 2023 and Morecambe Poetry Festival in September 2023. Watch this space!
6 random favourite photos of the tour (they’d be different if I chose them again tomorrow)
Attending Quiet Compere Tour events is a truly joyous and uplifting experience. The wonderfully refreshing format of the events allows attendees and contributors alike to enjoy a uniquely varied, engaging thought-provoking and entertaining blend of poets and performers from across the country. It shines a spotlight on everything that makes the spoken word scene so spellbinding. The fact that the Quiet Compere Tour also included several online dates was very positive and profoundly appreciated as those virtual tour stops made these already refreshingly diverse events even more inclusive by giving those of us with disabilities, medical vulnerabilities, health and/or mobility issues the opportunity to access and enjoy a top-quality live show. As a full-time wheelchair-user with Cerebral Palsy, I know first-hand how sadly rare fully accessible and inclusive arts events can be. The Quiet Compere is working hard to change that by embracing technology to bring people of all backgrounds and abilities together to share our love of poetry. Many more event organisers could learn from the Quiet Compere’s example and leave the virtual door open so that people with disabilities can relish new and exciting arts events in a medically safe and powerfully inclusive way. Bravo Quiet Compere, long may your shows continue to enthral and inspire!
A brilliant mix of poets of all experiences. Sarah’s informal approach is very welcoming. We had a chat afterwards too, which included the audience. A very enjoyable evening.
From Caleb’s book All the cancelled parties my favourites in it were Peacebuilding, Ridgeway, What we animals do and Almanac of Lunar Songs. I didn’t know there were so many types of moon.
And from The Estuary and egret poem. I loved ‘Estuary dressed in its most imposing power-suit grey with pinstripe waves.’ And ‘the moral of this story is – is – somewhere, somewhere in the gap between Egret and Estuary.’
‘Gritted teeth of the National Gallery’ and ‘Please do not touch the walrus or sit on the iceberg‘ were striking images.
Open mic and a bit of me
Caleb then brilliantly hosted the open mic section and gave a very brief and impressive account of all the places we had been taken to, all the moments we had visited and the people we had been introduced to through the pieces shared.
I then shared a poem about my body as a 90s indie moshpit and one about my son asking if we were poor and the reasons why.
Ben made me really want to visit The Argus Fish bar after Ben’s description of every tiny detail of their food. I almost clapped for joy when he described his sloth encounter with a ragged set of bagpipes. And the car gulped greedily at the asphalt as Ben took us on a driving lesson.
Oh! Helen brought us guttural sounds deep, old as Eve in birth poems, a charcoal foundling on a doorstep and winters too cold for terry nappies to dry which took us a very exacting moment of time.
In Rachael’s set there was a theme of brightness, music and character. Continuing the pregnancy theme lubdub of her existence. Rachael later takes us a childhood friend’s funeral where all the leather guys wept into lace.
Pey weaved worlds for us with the high call of cicadas rising to the sky. And in Smiling at communist China ‘smile in rebellion/in openness/in risk/in red silk/honeyed peanuts are required for hostesses.’
The alliterative play in one piece is glorious ‘sighs of silt slid from seams.’ Then Elizabeth pulls us close with ‘my sand tried to keep your small darkness.’ It felt like she was talking to us all individually, somehow as she invites us to ‘join her at the white-barked tree.’
Edson was honest ‘the garden is not rewilding. I am just idle.’ And I love the visual impact of ‘words often eat themselves.’
There was a brilliant after party that was full of poetry warmth despite it being held outside to keep any lurgy transference at bay. It was such a joy to extend the event further into the evening and catch up with many friends I had not seen for a long time and make some new friends too. You will have to take my word for the after-party brilliance as any photos taken were too blurry, chopped people off them or were too dark taken outside and at arm’s length.
The final event of the tour is online on November 12th.
Well organised event with warm and welcoming hosts.
Great to have a variety of poetry voice, page, spoken word, storytellers and free style.
Themes were varied; nature, journey, family, mothers, place. Something for everyone.
The Quiet Compere is a great concept for a touring poetry show providing a platform local poets.
A lovely night catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances.
A terrific range of voices and experiences from both the featured poets and the open mic performers.
Great venue, brilliantly organised by Sarah and Caleb.
So, this is my first local gig since moving to this county, so I felt some pressure to get a good turnout and atmosphere. I ate a Bao bun for the first time in The River Head before heading over to The Mechanics to check the venue was set up.
Rose Condo, my co-host for the evening, started the event with a poem which was about eh secret thoughts of pens. And then read a poem where we blew bubbles when we heard a word repeated. Both the bubbles and Rose were very fun to photograph.
After Rose followed a varied and enthusiastic bunch of open miccers.
Sadly, one of the showcase poets pulled out a few days before. I managed to replace her and then the replacement poet contacted with lost voice and full of a cold. I made the decision instead of booking someone at the last minute who would not have time to prepare, the fee for the missing poet would go back into the tour costs as online audiences are really low now and audience numbers in real life at some events have been lower than I guessed.
Wow! The handmade guitar poem. A ‘flame that flickers in the wood’ and it ‘has a voice but can never sing alone.’ And Tim writes well about what it is like to live/be in the valley, ‘I rushed laughing through their valleys, like a stream.’
Barry Bacteria and Victor Virus were brilliantly inhabited and the wordplay and rhyme in these were equally fun and dark. ‘Cure, kill and conquer, alter the sensation of taste.’ And ‘vindictive, virulent virtuoso.’ And, wisdom in the saying I had not heard before: ‘Never roll a barrel down a two-sided hill.’
Jack performed an exquisite piece about carrying a piece of lapis lazuli up a hill ‘a block of blue makes the sky look less like sky.’ And he talked of ‘the peace of mind that comes from painting on window frames.’
Anna’s self-love poems were beautiful and affirming. Self-love is ‘a lifeline when you haven’t got a friend.’ And I was so sad for the ‘baby tomato crying when he loses his Mum at the fruit and veg stall.’
I think we all know Joe’s ‘deluded busker’, and if we don’t, it may just be us:
20% Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
And from ‘Hibernation’:
“It was a blizzard year
that brought down houses,
bit through brick and bone,”
made me think of the three Beast from the Easts we have had since moving over The Pennines.
And an after party!
One of the best things about a local gig, apart from going back to you own bed on the last bus, is the fact you can have an after party 😊 I met Joe’s parents who I had met dozens of times online but never in real life.
We had a widespread group for the workshop on the Tuesday (I had to move it to the day before as I have started a full-time job and run out of holiday days).
After a brief panic because both Zoom and Eventbrite were being glitchy we had a great turnout, considering we clashed with Nine Arches triple book launch. I think the choice to reduce the length of the event and not have an open mic, as there was very low take up on this last time, helped with audience numbers. I may well run a double open mic read-a-round session in November ahead of the finale.
Dave Pitt – Dave performed a poem about Hillsborough and provided brilliantly brief yet insightful introductions to all poets in the first half.
Ruth Kelsey –
Ruth shared two poems about her journey. I felt honoured she shared them with us. They were the most concise and direct poems of her set. The lines:
‘like making up the words to hymns
By mouthing shapes we think might fit, and hope no-one will notice.’
particularly chimed with me as capturing that feeling of unbelonging with such precision.
Nicky Longthorne –
One last cigarette and endless cups of tea stood out for me as a poem that had a bouncy rhythm, that contrasted well with the content and I think the lines running into each other until that final line and giving that space worked so well and I was glad we could see that on screen, one benefit of being on Zoom instead of live.
Jonathan Kinsman –
Such breathlessness in ars poetica and I started writing down lines to comment on and ended with two-third of this poem in my notes and the line ‘at what age did you begin to feel an indescribable falsehood inside?’ provided such a invitation to intimacy in that one question.
Liz Mills –
I loved Liz’s Scottish accent. The poem about Clarice Cliffe pottery was accompanied by a piece on the screen as ‘the poor girl from Tunstall, a mover of clay mountains.’ And Aunt Winnie was exquisitely described.
Siegfried Baber –
There was great detail in Siegfried’s family-focused poems from ‘a tender seam of blue sky.’ AndApplying Bruce Lee’s three principles of Kung Fu to my grandfather who has dementia was at once moving and compelling.
‘he hangs like a shadow
from the branches of a chestnut tree
until his arms ache and his grip finally falters.’
The scent of honeysuckle by itself and think the combination of ‘the scent of fireweed, honeysuckle and dark peppery nettles.’ may be quite overcoming.
I then performed a brief set including my epic love poem (shrunk to 2 pages from 6) to some of the people and some of the places. This is one of only two poems written since starting a new job eight weeks ago. I am finding it difficult to balance full-time work, single parenthood and tour admin and find time to write. I am hoping that a return to work and school routine will mean more time for creative ventures, be that playing an instrument, collage, colouring or writing. I have read a book of poetry a day in August and loved immersing myself again in this way with the moments I have found.
There are wonderful observations in the pieces Olivia chose for her set. ‘Perhaps poetry isn’t what I love, but how I love’ and from the Stim poem ‘O, secret metronome of me.’ I have not heard stimming tackled as a subject beforeand as one easily annoyed by repetitive noises this poem challenges me to have more empathy.
Hannah Linden – Hannah’s Childhood poempinpointed one elegant and important purpose
‘Today the only job I have
is keeping the blackbird quiet.’
and she delivers searing social commentary in the poem about the neighbour’s treatment of the wasp nest.
‘I hadn’t minded the wasps myself. They come back every year and have never stung anyone. I’m guessing they might want to sting someone now. Oh how my country has changed.’
Gill Lambert –
The whispering of salt was surprising, while also being spot on and
‘though she throws spilled salt over her shoulder,
whispers it, like prayer, into cooking water.’
and at the end the tender giving away:
‘How her father loved her,
gave her away, like salt.’
I loved the variety in Gill’s set too as she brought us snow, salt and summer.
Finola Scott –
Finola’s poems describe a place with a child as ‘a sweet oasis in a careless city.’ And the idea of ‘time worn thin’ grabbed me and stays with me now. And I loved the music in the line ‘unstackably awkward on Formica shelves.’
Sharon Larkin –
We seemed to have a honeysuckle theme tonight and how subtle the honeysuckle scent is, yet so recognisable.
‘honeysuckle smuggles her scent,
no more than a whisper at the start.’
Marsden Mechanics up next Friday 16th September
The next event is my first local hosting since I moved to The Colne Valley five years ago and I am hoping for a good turn out at Marsden Mechanics.
The venue often feels like an extra performer. Bradford City Library (hosted by the excellent Dionne V. Hood) was no exception to this. They provide a cosy space between the shelves and a bust of Humbert Wolfe, a locally famous poet.
We had a good turn out for both the workshop and showcase event despite Arriva bus strikes. Two people from the workshop had never written poetry before and one attendee read the poem they wrote in the afternoon in the open mic section of the evening.
On the open mic Maz dedicated each of her four short poems to women in the audience who had been part of her writing journey which started in the last year or so. Yazmin read us a piece about quiet words and ended with ‘silence’. Steve shared a moving poem about how ‘the guys in here say I was born sad… I was born happy.’ Kellie gifted us a haiku.
Steve was an excellent co-host and even invited me along to his workshop in the morning at the town hall and introduced me to the massive hot chocolates and Manchester tart at Café. Steve dedicated his poem Carrot Girl to Eileen Lumb and his mum. I enjoyed the defiant celebration of ‘We are people. We are here and we abound.’
And genius rhyme-play from Party to it:
‘Eyes squint, upturned collar,
Desires and designs on you
As your mates dance on the sofa
Because your folks are in Corfu’
from collection, Extrano (from Flapjack Press who have a Spring sale on until 30th June).
I enjoyed the rhymes ‘nervous/epidermis’ and alibied/inside. Trevor also read a positive and hopeful poem about health, ‘give me ten more years and I’ll think I’ve got a bargain.’
There was such compassion in the poem Some Men, especially the lines ‘they remove slugs so you can be comfortable… Some Dad’s…create new stories each night, they teach you how to grieve the loss of failure and how to ensure victory.’
The phrase ‘don’t cramp her into a tiny jar of your expectations.’ ‘let her sing in the spring and dance in the rain.’ Such gentle and seemingly simple freedoms.
Nabeela performed a poem in Urdu with no translation and instructed us if we didn’t know the language we could enjoy the music of the sounds. This surprised me and made me think. Loved the fact Nabeela did not feel any obligation to share a translation.
I love the sad rhythm in the line ‘midges mass and mingle. We stay single.’ ‘Choke on your own hat/ charge you VAT’ made me smile. And the ‘ripples on love’s lake’ in your vibrating hotel rooms poem.
Sharena Lee Satti
Sharena shared a strong set of poems and particularly emotive lines were ‘Every planted seed is picked before it can blossom.’ and Sharena talked of sometimes being ‘just seen as a tick box in other people’s lives.’
Music seems to be one of the themes of Kathleen’s set. A rock n roll poem talking of ‘signing autographs on soft-skinned groupies’ and ‘how to stack a never-ending arsenal of 45s’. This reminded me of the time I found out I could load up more than one 45 and the Dansette would play them after each other. There as such tenderness in Kathleen’s poem about teaching her parents to twist ‘if twisting was their only foreplay I would have never been conceived.’ And in Things clouds get up to, ‘conjuring kidnapped mists into foggy lovers.’ A varied and strong set.
Photographing David was a challenge because of how active he is. ‘a human goldfish, insanity season and the madness in bloom.’ I loved the 80s references in I want to be bionic – muppets, Dusty Bin ‘The Ceefax of all knowledge’. I remember following soaps and jokes in Ceefax. And from Barstool know it man ‘He’s welded up the Titanic. Been a Formula 1 mechanic. Tamed a Bengal tiger and didn’t panic.’ This guy is referred to as having ‘done everything and been everywhere’ whilst in reality he’s never left the pub.
The next Quiet Compere gig is Wolves on Friday 1st July…
I went back to Morecambe, a place I fell hard for last year. One of the places I felt I could escape from the lockdown hangover and find pockets of normal, where I met such a supportive and friendly bunch of creatives. I return when I can. On arrival, I went for some drinks with my co-host, Matt Panesh and on my way home I found myself almost passing Popworld. I asked how much the entrance charge was and it was free so instead of seeing that as a reason not to go in, I decided to venture inside as I could leave when I was ready.
I made friends with a group who were out celebrating the birthday of their 23-year-old son and was dancing with son, sisters and their Dad. A good two-hour dance with a couple of Smirnoff Ice bottles. I was still up for a sea-swim by 10am and joined Matt in the cold bay. The hangover was banished!
Workshop at The Nib Crib
I ran a workshop at The Nib Crib with many of the creatives I had met on my previous visits and a couple of people new to the venue who were attending both workshop and reading at the open mic. The variety and quality of the pieces produced was impressive and some new poetry connections were made.
West End Playhouse
We started with an excellent open mic section from LaGrif, Clodagh Delahunty-Forrest, Voirrey Wild, Jim Lupton, Louise Hart and Rebecca Mélusine Samuels.
Matt stormed the open mic hosting and treated us to a couple of his own poems from his book Tribe: Collective Monkey Poets.
Showcase poets: I loved the fact the event was so varied in style. I think, if I put a bid in for 2023 I will make the variety a part of it. 10-minute platform slots for storytellers, comedians, prose writers, short excerpts form one person shows, verse novellas, flash fiction, pretty much anything you can do with words in ten minutes. Zoe and JJ Journeyman’s sets in particular, had these bid-writing cogs seriously firing.
J J Journeyman
I enjoyed JJ’s props (a hi-vis poetry vest and eye pad – sigh! and a suitcase he took on his trip dowsing for poetry). I liked the playful rhyme of wiser and Trip Advisor. JJ stepped in at quite short notice when one of our other performers could not perform and he wrote the piece especially for The Quiet Compere Tour. At the end of JJ’s set Martin Palmer had one task to throw a Paddington bear into the suitcase…
I was amused by the fact Martin had to take to the stage immediately after failing to throw Paddington into a suitcase. I was impressed he remembered the name of The Quiet Compere mascot, Alex, the non-binary komodo dragon and greeted them as he took to the stage showing he has an affinity with some of the cuddly animal kingdom even if he was not able to throw them accurately.
I love the music in Martin’s line ‘damp pet millipede on a doily’ a surprising contrast between doilies and insects and ‘the disused lidos of our dreams’. Martin read poems about the sea air bringing ‘notions of childhood.’
I definitely feel more childlike when hanging around in Morecambe, scouring shores for sea-glass, taking brisk swims and swapping hats, which somehow became a thing during my two visits last year. I did leave my hat behind at the B & B but the host sent it to me and said not to worry about the postage, so I sent some of my poetry books for his guest library. Bit of bartering.
Zoe used props well – the coat, Awake! magazines and a Count Duckula diary. To me, as a teenager of the 90s there is a lot of charm in the references that date this piece (Duckula and Tammy Girl, to name two). Zoe told us ‘at thirteen I know how to say no to boys’ but that resolve and confidence changes with age, which is telling and true.
Sarah treated us to a poem stuffed with singing comparisons that was like a lullaby, ‘he was pulse to her beat’, ‘she was sky to his fall,’ and ‘a flower grown for a word dropped in soil’. There was a lot of detailed landscape in Sarah’s pieces and she told us of ‘closed in valleys, like gossip.’
Such concise observation was apparent in Peter’s ‘this is how we say hello/this is how we say goodbye’ piece. The line ‘the sun rose on nothing new’ has stayed with me. And the Ukranian refugees poem that tells us ‘you cannot erase a bird’s memory of flight’ was beautiful and fitting.
It amused me that after Peter’s money-throwing (he asked us to throw notes at him) and the universe gifted me a tenner on the prom the next day, blowing along with no-one chasing it, so I took it as tour income from the universe.
Big Charlie Poet:
Big Charlie talks eloquently about depression and anxiety. ‘I don’t want to admit I am struggling at a time I should be happy.’ And ‘light will come if we just let it.’
And, from The Touch of you:
‘I know the touch of you
And how it makes me feel like I’m worth saving.’
And there was an after party, a hangover, a Sunday morning sea-swim and a long train ride home. Next up Bradford City Library on 11th June.
Oh! And I will be back in Morecambe for The Morecambe Poetry Festival in September.
On the way to Quiet Compere – Chatham, I called in to The Stag Café in Canterbury to perform my first live guest set since COVID started. It felt so good to be up there and engaging with an audience again. Brilliant sets from Tim Taylor, Christopher Horton, Gary Studley, Claudia Volpe, Kat Peddie, Sam Tate and Karen Smith. I loved it. Thanks for the invite and putting on a great event Gary and Christopher. I loved the sign as I feel a lot of us have been hungry for shared words, company and hugs in the past few months.
On arrival in Chatham I met up with my co-host and fellow ale drinker, Barry Fentiman-Hall. We had a beer or three and it was good to reconnect ahead of the gig. I bet Barry was quite relieved to see that I had arrived and he would not be hosting workshop and showcase himself 🙂
The Quiet Compere Live and Online Tour 2022 is supported using public funding by The National Lottery through Arts Council England.
The workshop sold out and a dozen of us wrote to three exercises and shared our pieces. The attendees were all ages and there were such a variety of takes on the prompts.
Open Mic Section
We started with a stellar open mic section with poems from Sue Puddefoot, Timothy Green, Zack Davies, Maria McCarthy, Richard Cooper and Sarah Tait. Zack Davies pointed out it was Shakespeare Day. Richard Cooper read a poem of Rosemary McLeish’s from I am a field (Wordsmithery, 2019).
Barry had a lesson for life about knowing ‘the proper way of caring for Lego.’ and said ‘we all get our sunshine how we can’. His theme seems to be things are dark but there is some hope and it might be in the small things, so look carefully. His exquisite eye for detail was evident in the line ‘ It keeps the tiny ones amused, so that restless feet don’t wander in the life-stained footsteps of afternoon casualties’.
I think a jaunt to Kent is the way I get some of my sunshine from catching up with good poetry friends and making new ones.
Nina took us from intro to poem with an ease that tricked us into already being in the verse and shared such music with us in lines like ‘the journey gives up to the angering deep’ and ‘venture again into mist’. A line from her meme poem, ‘sipped Lipton with Kermit the Frog’, made me smile and I can’t stop saying this line over and over, give it a go, it is so satisfying.
Setareh shared with us several insightful pieces. I loved her description of ‘the exact moment you are new enough and actually alive.’ And later ‘in this moment, we are survivors’.
Ooo! The idea of ‘insects rubbing on the altar of the night.’ and ‘a pale bird in the wildling high’. Christopher’s set and delivery was spell-binding. And ‘sky is a grounded spell’ is a line I am still unpacking now.
Clair continues the spell theme, actually I would say, if there was a theme running through the event it was magic or spells. Clair shared her poem Thread and she ‘gathers spider webs in the contours of her dress.’ and this poem ends with the gentle finality of ‘night closes with a catch’. Clair, then, gifts us the weird, but totally right ‘memory turns a corner with your mouth.’
The spell-like rhythm of incantation is continued by Katy in the line ‘No antidote. No amulet. No way to avoid being charmed.’ And I enjoyed Katy’s description of ‘the sun itself in which the skin and heart both harden.’ from her poem Croonerisms from Broken Cities(Smith/Doorstop 2017). Katy also read a poem in honour of Shakespeare Day.
‘I pick up blue-sky lilies from the shores of Tsushima.” (Great game!) I had to look this one up. Sounded like more weaving of magical places, and it is, a virtual magic, but still magic.
And Nathaniel ended the event with the line “I’m just playing and acting out fables of generations past.”
Thanks and Morecambe is next on the 14th May
Thanks to Barry and Chatham Library Hub, showcase and open mic poets and to all who attended the workshop or reading or shared the event for us. Thanks to the Arts Council for the funding.
It was so lovely to have some time with poets in The Command House beer garden after the event too. So often I spend the time after a Quiet Compere gig in my hotel room looking through feedback forms and drinking a small bottle of Prosecco.
I went for an affordable and really filling and tasty turkish meal at Taze. I would highly recommend it.
Bios of all poets are available on this site under the Chatham Bios blog post.
July ‘Woodlouse’ Dreich – Summer Everywhere anthology ‘Lockdown sundial’ Lighthouse Literary Journal #22 ‘Kathi makes heart-shaped toast’ Spelt 2 ‘Moving counties.’ Prole #39 ‘2020 by the Colne’ The Lake Literary Review
Mechanics Institute, Marsden, April 2022 Venue TBC, Chatham, April 2022 West End Playhouse, Morecambe May 2022 Bradford Libraries, date TBC 2022. The Arena, Wolverhampton date TBC 2022 Venue TBC, Bristol, October 2022