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.