The Quiet Compere End of Year Blog 2014 – Part 2 (of 3) – Featuring Manchester/Liverpool/Lancaster and Chester

Manchester – a familiarity of poets Gina Frost and John Topliff let us hire Three Minute Theatre, a venue I knew well and loved. Narrowing down the hundreds of poets in the area was my hardest task here and I ended up choosing poets I felt most encouraged other poets within the scene and had encouraged and supported me along the way. The tour would not have taken place unless Tony Walsh had planted a seed about applying for funding.   The Poetry highlights for me were: Jackie Hagan: Performed material from her one-woman show “Some people have too many legs”. Ben Willems: Stood in at a couple of days’ notice and he fitted into the line-up beautifully. His poem “Is your accent strong?” to the tune of “ Do you ears hang low?” was genius. Becca Audra Smith: Becca asked us “to tell me something real” about being a man. She took a risk and performed this piece she was unsure was ready. It stunned all. Tony Walsh: Tony treated us to a journey through the history of Manchester music. I love “Eyes the size of Timperley” and “passion underlined” and the list of Manchester things including: “rainbow flags/gladiolis/sewn on badges”.   Non-poetry highlights: Drinks with old school-friends who has come along to support and surprised themselves by enjoying the night immensely. SOLD OUT gig: Playing stock market games in the back of a cab on the way to the event – cancellations coming in via Twitter and requests for spaces from Facebook!   The lines that stayed with me: Charlotte Henson (now Felix Henson): “I am the thing you never asked for, but ended up with anyway”.   Liverpool – a friendship of poets The poetry highlights for me were: Andrew McMillan: Andrew was one of the poets in the Liverpool line-up I had not seen perform before and his poetry was subtly stunning and we were the “we” in the poem: “dressed like kids who have forgotten their games kits. Crying in the toilets.” David Bateman: “Word Wizard” in which he makes a stutter a luxury item. Colin Watts: “Taking down the treehouse” after children had left home and the memories coming to “half an hour with a  lump-hammer.” Stephen O’Shaughnessey: Stormed his first ever performance, especially with the detailed “Contents of a bed-sit” poem. An especial relief when I had been following a rampant purveyor of the bluest language by the same name on Twitter in error   Non-poetry highlights: The Blackburne House Cafe quiche and salad deal was exquisite. Poetry friends who hadn’t seen each other for years were catching up and reconnecting in the break. Yey!   The phrase that stayed with me: Cath Nichols: “Bat applicants” I often repeat it over and over and smile. Lindsey Holland: “the anonymous smell of long-forgotten crevices.”   Lancaster – a clash of poetic styles I arrived at Lancaster venue with ten minutes to spare before doors, in contrast to my arrival at Liverpool almost two hours early. The Gregson Centre had not been laid out and all chairs were being unstacked by a wonderful Blackpool contingent who had arrived before me, Big Charlie Poet and Colin Davies. My lateness was due to my day job hours shifting so I had to work Sunday afternoon/evening, which was not ideal and then catch the train the one before the one I must get. Train ran late and then Google maps got me lost in Lancaster. I couldn’t book a holiday. I ended up arriving a bit frazzled and panicked and the line-up had changed at 9am on the morning of the gig. I had booked one of the poets originally scheduled for Blackpool and Ashley Lister would have fitted best this raucous Bank Holiday Friday crowd. On an October Sunday his reception was cooler. I think adding his well-crafted, but erotic, poetry to an already wide-ranging evening of performance and page poets was one step too far and this was totally my mistake as at one day’s notice I did not check his style and re-balance the running order to take this into account. The Poetry Highlights for me: Jennifer Copley’s poem when she “fell in love with a word.” Rachel McGladdery’s whole set had a volume theme! “Syruped by sun slant and felt like almost joy”. After the Old Dungeon Ghyll was a poem about a folk night. It started: ”night is a moist blanket which we leave to dry and creep in through the crawlspace to a hum a hive of smoke and sweat and song.” “yaddering drumming”  “Deafened by the thrum of silence”. This poem drips volume.  She finished the night on a high note.   The lines that stayed with me: Erfan Daliri: Everyone IS looking for a place “where they no longer have to shoot down stars to fulfil their heart’s desires.” and “Love will be the smile we give away for free.” Ian Seed: “Sometimes a city is shown its own reflection in the sky.”     Chester – an organisation of poets Alexander’s Bar was laid-out brilliantly for poetry, however there were some lighting issues I hadn’t foreseen. I had printed out running orders, as I have from early in the tour for each performer. Chester was the first venue where four poets had printed out the running order themselves. They had also timed themselves to perfection, which made my job a lot easier! The Poetry Highlights for me: Angela Topping’s description of puberty as “No TARDIS to travel back to myself”. Katy Konrad continued the Doctor’s presence in her Bloodlines poem. “No longer a donor and no longer afraid of Dr Who.  He protected them and made them brave.” David J Costello’s MRI poem “a mildewed void the size and shape of me.” and in the scans “I saw the darkest workings of myself.”   The lines that stayed with me: Edwin Stockdale: “A manicured house, a perfect life in a mirage.” Jan Dean: birth as “the trick of clotting cell soup into ravelled flesh.” Christopher Coey: “We had covered more than miles on the scale of who we are.” “We are the show. It does add up. Just not how we ever thought it would.”     The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’  
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