The Wolves Arena, yet another place where the venue becomes another essential part of what is happening. A lovely, attentive, friendly and organised team. I loved the signs in the venue, the wolf and the big screen (so I didn’t have to drag a roller banner on to four different trains) and it felt strange to see the back of my Quiet Compere head on screens and be led to a green room to change.
Dave Pitt – co-host
My co-host was the brilliant, excitable and anything but quiet, Dave Pitt of Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists (Dave will also be the co-host for the online event on 17th August). In one of his poems ‘sperm lazed across pages’ and I adore his council house Botticelli poem. The Beck reference made me smile too. I saw him before The Prodigy at a gig once.
Open Mic section
Then we had a short and high-quality open mic section
Short set by me and thanks to my co-host for some brilliant photos
Mogs performed a poem about the Severn Stour river where ‘industry plotted every meander.’ and he also treated us to his lockdown haircut poem, which I had heard a few times online, but never live:
‘She ignores my screams when snipping blades
give my ear a painful prod,
It seems she honed her hair cutting skills
From watching Sweeney Todd.
So, I met Alex through the Poet, Prattler and Pandemonialist Arses to Elbows writing workshops in lockdown. Strangely, even though I was joining in from Huddersfield (and once an Elsecar pub – when were allowed out between lockdowns), I assumed Alex lived near Wolverhampton. I was delighted when Alex agreed to be part of the line-up even though she lives in the Lakes and it was a bit of a trek for her.
Alex read a poem about her mother and how as a child she was ‘aching to be old enough to join in.’. Alex has great rhythm and her poetry is witchy and magical from those ‘hooded, hatted, or horned’ to others ‘laced with amber and fraud.’ there are brilliant contrasts throughout.
In Gerald’s poem ‘Birmingham to Leicester by train’ the line ‘unstolen grain which flickers in these fields.’ sang out. I find Gerald’s poems are often like a train ride lulling in the beginning and with the repetition and rhythm they build and speed to a poignant point and a breathless final line. As in his poem about pimps which was searing ‘girls who don’t look like tourists…their boyfriend has a notebook and says they’re both obliging.’ And ‘pretty when they smile, in the hope their younger sisters will not join them in a while.’
Emma Purshouse’s crown of sonnets was a masterpiece. Lines I particularly loved were ‘there are daggers in kid’s smiles when you look.’ And ‘tumble and twist of rapture as they are freed.’
Priyanka left me breathless with the line ‘bending over backwards to conform is what will eventually cause us to break.’ and the rivers theme of this evening returns ‘the five river force that beats within all our hearts.’ and then the bright and active 7-yard sari poem was engaging and langurous at once.
Casey’s brutal deployment of language in the line ‘ladders in her arms and serpents in her life, but this is not a game’ and in ‘cocktail of cowardice’. And ‘bricks fall faster than feathers. It doesn’t mean they are weaker, they just carry more weight’ is a line that highlights the exquisite eye for detail in so much of his work.