‘brilliant – an amazing line up of poets – I really enjoyed it – it was deep’ Anne Bailey
‘I liked the time of the day and the variety. Generally, a very good event.’ Linda Goulden
‘It was a terrific event, the detail and the reassurances; the reliability of meeting links being sent, the attention to detail is astonishing, the best I have seen’ Chaucer Cameron
‘The potent mix of hearing the poetry of so many styles and those with lived experience made an event a chance to not only experience poetry and words but also learn other perspectives and grow.’ Dalton Harrison
(Please note while this tour is Arts-Council funded, in my bid I factored in tickets, PAYF payments and workshop income. Two-thirds of pay to myself comes from these avenues – I have put around 100 hours work into the tour so far (since bid success). I cannot pay myself for work carried out before the bid success.)
First of all, I really hadn’t realised how much more work an online event would involve. Secondly, I didn’t have to worry about getting lost, delayed trains or getting caught in a downpour. The Quiet Compere Tour 2022 is well and truly launched. The morning workshop went well.
I got to wear my Quiet Compere t-shirt and put up the roller banner for the first time.
We started the event with a high-quality short open mic section. One of the many benefits of online events is that poems can be shared on the screen so we can see how they are laid out on the page as well as being more accessible. Several of the poets commented on the fact it introduced them to poets they had not heard before and there was no limits on distance, no travel costs and if anyone has fluctuating energy levels performing from home may be less challenging.
Daniel shared poems from his collection ‘Single Window’. I am not sure I can put it better than Michael Northern ‘In Single Window Daniel Sluman gives us a noir view into the world of disability, drugs and pain.’ Daniel shared with us poems about a year when he and his wife were unable to navigate stairs. They were isolated except for a single window where they watched the world. A line that particularly stood out to me was:
‘& our daily bread
is to not let ourselves bend
under the weight
of this light’
Hearing poems from ‘She is the wild’ added an extra dimension to poems I have read on the page. Rebecca took us with her to the sea, the birds, the trees.
‘you will learn one day,
disinfected, indoor child,
to build your own cage
from our neuroses:’ has echoes of lockdown.
Chaucer shared some poems from her book In an ideal world I would not be murdered. She shared these words with searing honesty, such as:
‘Crystal could’ve been a hoarder, but in fact she was a hooker. She was lucky, never murdered, she understood erasure, turned it into artforms, pinned it to the walls.’
Dalton tells us of ‘trauma like a map to never again’ and in The Catcher in the Rye talks of what seems such a simple need, a longing for a book and they write about that desire so well.
‘All I wanted was a book
Each line of the spine
like somehow knowing I have this
would make me whole again’
Jessica inhabits such stories and histories, weaves them through detail and leads us into them totally.
‘In secret she collected his debris,
made candles from his ear wax, bottled him up,
spun his fur into balls of wool, created a museum
of his natural history. Kept jars of him in the pantry’
Tony was my co-host for the event and helped me relax by keeping an eye on the waiting room and sharing links. This kept most of the anxiety dreams at bay. Tony made me miss Manchester and I love the music in the lines:
‘Where work and suffrage
Is etched on our face’ and
‘The street sounds so far below
Are part of your symphony’.
I loved the way Julia described someone as ‘a ratty tennis ball, lost their bounce’ and ‘her mother was a bramble’.
Julia also captures perfectly the feeling after a good cry as ‘hollow hot.’
The grief is long is a stunning poem. ‘so many little deaths’ and ‘my body is an urn’. Holly’s poems are so well crafted and such sadness is distilled into the short pieces. Distraction is such a succinct comment on a lot of what is wrong with the world.
‘The problem is, most of us need stitches, and we’re not getting them. Just plaster after plaster, so many that the wound is now growing around them, encrusting them.’
Pete makes such a generous description of unconditional love in ‘as strong as gossamer’,
‘without let or limit
a chalice that grows
in size and strength and capacity’.
The gentle spirituality of this set contrasted well with the often more intense sets.
Nocturne was a brilliant incantation of a poem to start Katy’s set. Such strong rhythm and so many sounds captured in surprising phrases, once uttered they are totally recognisable, yet fresh and new.
‘There are songs which echo the ridiculous pheasant,
the wet clang of an ancient bell’
The character study of her father in Heart of matter is rendered with such exquisite detail but a light touch and I love the ‘swallowing guilt and rebellion’ of G & T. It took me right back to Boxing Day gatherings of neighbours and stealing the lemons from glasses to suck the bitterness and the alcohol from them. I was always surprised people did not eat the lemon flesh.
Being able to see In the air as it looks on the page definitely added a new dimension to hearing it. Adrian captures music and character skilfully in words, so we are the in the room/space of the poem, watching, listening, there
‘and as his hands moved
sketching the loops and mazes,
his harp, golden in sunlight,’
and he had me grinning with:
‘Sometimes it’s enough just to be young and full of fire, to love cheesy pop’.
The next event will be the first online one of the tour at The Library Hub in Chatham, where Barry Fentiman-Hall is my co-host. There will be a workshop, six showcase poets, a short open mic section, an appreciative audience and a compere who is a bit giddy about making things happen out in the world again (online and live). The next online workshop and showcase events will be Wednesday 17th August.
Thanks to Nina Lewis for the seamless screen sharing too to help us make this event accessible to more people.
Quiet Compere Tour 2022 online and live is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.