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.