Salisbury's open mic 2016

Salisbury’s excellent open mic

 

 

 

 

 

Poetika XXXVIII – Duffy’s Echo

Despite the fact the Poet Laureate did not attend our meeting on Wednesday – probably because she hadn’t been invited – we had another good turnout including new faces and some welcome returners. Many followed our theme by reading some of Carol Ann Duffy’s work, but there were plenty of original contributions too.’Parking seems to be getting harder, despite the large Brown Street car park behind our venue, so it may be worth allowing an extra few minutes if you’re coming by car.

David King did the customary introductions before beginning with Prayer by Ms Duffy – “the truth enters our hearts, that small familiar pain” then followed with something of his own, though he “can’t stay here, because the air’s too thin”. Graham ‘Gray’ Turner continued by “feeding the chickens that laid the golden eggs on our fantasy world”, then Edwin read us History by Ms Duffy – “She’d seen them ease him down from the Cross, his mother gasping for breath, as though his death was a difficult birth”.

Vic brought us a musical interlude where he sang of Salisbury’s dancing man, where watchers were ‘itching to move their feet’, then Mike dribbled about ‘toddlers with tools they may grow up to use”. John made sure he was first to jump the Christmas gun by reading the Laureate’s ‘Christmas Eve’, before reminding us all of the sad news that Leonard Cohen had died, by reading his ‘Poem’ – “I hear a man climb stairs and clear his throat outside our door “. David Robinson followed this with a further tribute to Cohen – ‘The Stranger Song ‘ – “I told you when I came I was a stranger”, before James surprised us all with his assertion that he knew Carol Ann Duffy “before she was gay”.

It was nice to see Papa Webb back to wonder why King Kong or Godzilla had never won an Oscar, and how he’d been “at sea all day, and caught Rockall”, and Inga, who told of “blue grey eyes, that make women want you”, and she wished “that you could be me, for one hour”. Nicky followed with ‘Stealing’, by Carol Ann Duffy – “You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?” before performing one of her own – “uncertainty is the new certainty”.

Alison read Cohen’s ‘A thousand Kisses Deep’ – “And then consented to be wrecked, A Thousand Kisses Deep”, Lenka then gave us her Autumn Sketch – “is an afternoon walk, before the dusk brings its dark shadows”, and David King wound up the first half with another from Duffy – ‘Drunk’ – “unseen frogs belch in the damp grass” – was he suggesting something?

The second half saw David King get us going with Duffy’s ‘Litany’ – “A tiny ladder ran up Mrs Barr’s American Tan leg”, before David Robinson returned with a short selection from her collection ‘The World’s Wife’ – including Mrs Icarus and Mrs Darwin. Mike was back with more flash fiction – “squinting through a wall you’ve always found opaque”, and Papa Webb entertained us again with a cautionary tale about the dragon at the door.

It was Vic’s turn again and he brought us Duffy’s ‘The Dark’ – “there’s nothing to be frightened of at all. (Except for aliens…)” then performed for us Leonard Cohen’s famous ‘Bird on the Wire’. Inga returned having been asked “do you want a hand with that, Luv” and told “get down you crazy mare”, and Nicky told us “this kid’s so unpopular, even my imaginary friends have left me”. Lenka treated us to a short children’s poem in her native Czech, ‘Little Bear’, and was good enough to translate it into English for us too. David King then closed proceedings, warning us that “time is a thief in black and white” and that “we rarely notice how fast slowness happens.
It was another great meeting, and thank you all – everyone who came to share their and others’ work, and also those who came just to listen. Our next meeting will be the Christmas one – now we meet on the third Wednesday this means it will be very close to Christmas – on the 21st of December – and we do hope you’ll be able to come.

We’ll be meeting in a different venue to leave the Cloisters free for Christmas dinners and also to allow us to bring our own Yuletide refreshments – so make a note – for next month only we’ll be meeting in St Thomas’s house – on the corner of the walk through between Dinghams and Cote Brasserie (was Snells) – St Thomas’s Square. Opposite St Thomas’s church. We’ll be providing mince pies and a little alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshment as there is no bar (you are welcome to bring your own), and our theme will be Christmas – and traditionally we celebrate the lighter side of the season – so bring your more humorous work! But more details in our event invitation nearer the date.

To finish off, it was interesting to hear from David Robinson that there is a longer version (finally finished in 2009) of Leonard Cohen’s ‘A thousand Kisses Deep’ than the one Alison read – so here it is:

A Thousand Kisses Deep

You came to me this morning
And you handled me like meat.
You´d have live alone to know
How good that feels, how sweet.
Anonymous, and hard, and fast –
(I´d know you in my sleep) –
Then born together, born at last
A thousand kisses deep.

I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat.
I´m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet,
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second-hand physique –
With all he is, and all he was
A thousand kisses deep.

All soaked in sex, and pressed against
The limits of the sea:
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me.
We made it to the forward deck
I blessed our remnant fleet –
And then consented to be wrecked
A thousand kisses deep.

It´s true that you could lie to me
It´s true you could to cheat
The means no longer guarantee
The virtue in deceit.
That truth is bent, that beauty spent,
That style is obsolete –
O since the Holy Spirit went
A thousand kisses deep.

(So what about this inner Light
That´s boundless and unique?
I´m slouching through another night
A thousand kisses deep.)

I´m turning tricks; I´m getting fixed,
I´m back on Boogie Street.
I tried to quit the business –
Hey, I´m lazy and I´m weak.
But sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go
A thousand kisses deep.

(And fragrant is the thought of you,
The file is now complete –
Except what we forgot to do
A thousand kisses deep.)

The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it´s done –
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it´s real
A thousand kisses deep.

(I jammed with Diz and Dante –
I did not have their sweep –
But once or twice, they let me play
A thousand kisses deep.)

And I´m still working with the wine,
Still dancing cheek to cheek.
The band is playing “Auld Lang Syne” –
The heart will not retreat.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep –
Your ditch it all to stay alive
A thousand kisses deep.

And now you are the Angel Death
And now the Paraclete;
Now you are the Quickening Breath
And now the Belsen heap.
No turning from the threat of love,
No acrobatic leap –
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep

Beautiful as he always is

Open Word July 24th Very enjoyable

“Very enjoyable”, “excellent standard of poets” and “a great atmosphere” was the feedback we received from our audience. They loved the inclusiveness of our event.

Open Word is held at The Grosvenor, in the beautiful town of Stockbridge, Hampshire. The Open Word Café runs from 1.30pm – 4.00pm, every 4th Sunday of the month

It was a reading of two halves.Cat Randle performed  the sacrificial poem and played with the audience while educating them about technology with The purple fantastic feels like elastic spangled and plastic ray gun.

Rosey our poet from Mencap, read her power point poem called Taxi. When she talked about taxi’s she couldn’t get into we saw taxi’s in a very different way.

Mike Rogers proved he didn’t need the microphone. We loved his retelling of Greek myths. He took the theme of families and re-created a gripping story . My favourite lines were “Blood is thicker than water. Do you have to shed it to find out.”

Mike Rogers and his fabulous hat

Mike Rogers and his fabulous hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Robinson included us in his artistic process. He’s found a picture for his poem Genesis. His familial look at Adam and Eve’s first year away from the garden.  He also took us to the time of protest in 60’s London and how it impacted his hitchhiking home. “It was yesterday, it was years ago,”

David Robinson at Genesis

David Robinson at Genesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Hubble An embarrassment guide to the Chinese was a well constructed clever list poem. A fabulous reply to Boris Johnson’s comment about what the Chinese contributed to culture. Quite a lot if you carefully listen to David. Cat was taken with his poem about cats regrets. Finally,  Michael Gove was the subject of David’s bile as his poem insulted him in beautiful Shakespearian-style language.

David Hubble sharing satire when politicians speak without thinking

David Hubble sharing satire when politicians speak without thinking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caro Reeves was greeting with an introduction about 5 lovely things Cat appreciated about her. Her Bird watching in Waitrose comparing the current  hoi-poloi to birds of prey. Her  poem Grand found an inspiration in nature was about being taken down a peg or two. “If you’re unique you’re not alone.” Her poem  in praise of fracking was a hymn for any eco-warrior and a wake-up call. Her set finished with Great moths reminding us of why we need our countryside2016-07-24 14.02.42

 

 

 

 

 

Syd Meats introduced himself as an ego warrior which explained his tee shirt and how this movement was created to help uphold people’s self-esteem. He read 4 poems in the first half The penultimate question version 1. His witty post-Brexit poem was short and a crowd pleaser. He read one of my favourite environmental poems, reminiscent of Edward Lear in its absurdity and swift in its brevity; If. His 4th poem I must not took us from cradle to grave through one man’s life defined by what he must not do.

Syd Meats helping us up hold our self esteem

Syd Meats helping us uphold our self-esteem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte Sherwood was able to fit us in before she moves west. Charlotte is a lyrical poet who helps us appreciate nature in its grand and intimate moments. Her first poem line  “know you have been and remember.” was very comforting. She then took us to The Ham on New Year’s day which is a place in Tewksbury and we walked with her family in the cold. Her final poem Remember had some lovely twists of word play which ensorcel us in her idyll spell.

Charlotte Sherwood weaving a wonderful word picture

Charlotte Sherwood weaving a wonderful word picture

We ask for feedback at the end of each session and we were asked if the guest poets and musicians could play in the first and second half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest poet, Duncan Green after introducing one of his signature poems, Why create used his first half to take us on a journey into the world of early fatherhood. He examined the father’s relationship with a child in his poems Gravity,Reveal and I’m Father Christmas. He subtly captured the emotional roller coaster of early parenthood. In the second half, he explored Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He experimented with slam and non-slam rhythms varying pace which helped us take on all the intricate concepts inside his writing.The second set is still young. Once completely learnt by heart, he will edit the poems into an even more powerful offering. He is a capable philosopher poet and this cycle is an excellent exploration of Maslow’s pyramid.

Duncan Green promising not to drop his inner child

Duncan Green sharing the wonder of a small baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Les Kazoos D’Amour. We questioned was it love of kazoos or kazoo love. We fell in love with Matt and Janet’s energy, stage banter and wonderful choice of energetic, wistful, uplifting, catchy, funny songs. Their own particular verve and personal spin lift these show tunes, songs, ditties, old and new and give them a snazzy jazzy life.  I particularly loved Ivor Cutlers; Go and sit upon the grass.This is the magic of Les Kazoos D’Amour, their sets are like being greeted by a long lost friend who is happy to see us again. We finished off their second set with a song medley involving a lot of 60’s songs and Jeremy Corbyn. I love them and they deliver joy, fun and a darn fine sing along.

Kazoo D'Amour with they wonderful banter

Kazoos D’Amour with their  wonderful banter

 

 

Hat Poets 2016 by reveiw by Hampshire Laureate Isobel Rogers

Hat Poets 2016

by isabelrogers

streetOn Saturday 2 July I led an intrepid team of poets onto Parchment Street in Winchester to take part in the annualHat Fair celebrations. Sorry it has taken me a week to get this up online (realise this sounds as if I think watching Andy Murray winning Wimbledon is more important … anyway, we’re here now).

Our line-up of fabulous local talent comprised: Joan McGavin, my predecessor as Hampshire Poet 2014; Syd Meats, Chair of Romsey’s Tea Poet Collective; Lynda O’Neill, a Winchester poet; Hugh Greasley, a painter-poet; Sue Wrinch, who runs two regular poetry/prose events in Winchester; Steve Scholey, a ringleader of Not The Winchester Poetry Festival; Rosemary Brook-Hart, currently studying for a languages degree; andCat Randle, a steampunk poet from Andover, who performed as her steampunk persona Merciful Grace the Mechanical Maid.

We played Hunt The Microphone at the beginning, braved rainstorms and wind gusts that threatened to overcome my clothespeg/music stand combo. At one point I was standing behind Steve, holding an umbrella over him and his poems. But our wonderfully enthusiastic audience stuck with us and enjoyed all our performances.

Here are a few pictures from our afternoon – again, apologies for not getting pics of all the poets as they performed (Rosemary and Syd). I was sometimes distracted by rain-management or microphone issues, or (in the case of Syd) too mesmerised by his Darlek impression and forgot to get my phone out.

joan

lynda

hugh

sue

steve

cat

hat fair

Unity Theatre show “Oh Noah you don’t” The Lights Friday January 22nd

Best one yet…

I love community theatre. Done well it’s a pleasure for audience and actors.  Tonight the audience got to see an ensemble community theatre show at its best. They loved it.

From the start of the show, the theatregoers heard toe tapping popular, sing-a-long songs, well sung. I was curious to see how the change of musical director effected the group, however the cast is confident in its delivery and we heard 4 part harmony clearly. There was one wobble at the opening song of the second act however the audience knew the song so well, we sang along in harmony with gusto so I doubt anyone actually noticed.

I am biased because I staged managed for two of Unity’s shows, to introduce my son to live theatre. Thinking about what could be improved I realised the whole show was excellent and any improvements are just little picky things that most audience members wouldn’t bother with because they had a great time.

The show was well written for family entertainment with the right balance of slapstick, tap dance, song and dance routines, jokes for the kids and jokes for the mums and dads. It was English pantomime at its best with a big hearted dame, a comedy side kick, a zoo load of things to do for all the actors and lots and lots and lots of puns.

Special mention to John Seculina, as Noah, who is a humble actor who can hold an audience enthralled. When John scolded God because Noah thought it was a cold call the audience were in stitches. We enjoyed Noah’s family mopping the arc and Yvonne West as the Raven.

What we loved most of all was the children. Unity’s strength is the cast’s ability to let anyone have a go. Two of my special needs actors from The Brilliant Drama group are regular members. Unity have a strong children’s section and this year the children enchanted the audience.

There is an element of “Oh they are so adorable,” and “Look that’s my son/daughter,”. It’s that wonderful pride you feel at the school play.  However this year the children scenes were competing with the adult’s scenes for professionalism and polish.  The doves modern dance scene took our breath away, the children’s singing was fab and the dialogue made us laugh.

I just wish The Lights surround sound and hand help mic’s had a better range. We strained to hear the softer spoken children at the back. It was a shame because they were fantastic actors and special mention to the chickens. My other picky point was mid point there was a long  dance number where the foxes chased the chickens. The stage was very full and there was so much to look at, a lot of people missed the foxes stage action with the chickens, which was a pity because it was very funny.

It helped the script was balanced and clipped along at a rate. The audience felt so at home, the children in the audience became funny hecklers. Sharon O’Leary worked hard in her slapstick scenes with Jez Jameson. I could hear the children giggling away, just waiting to see what mischief the actors would get up to next.

It was a pleasure to watch a cross section of Andover’s community enjoying their friends and family having fun on stage. This year Unity’s Oh Noah you don’t was the best pantomime show they’ve done. They will have to work very hard to top this one next year.

Poster for the show

Poster for the show

Review of Metamorphosis by Ben Johnson.

Ben reading to us from his show

Ben reading to us from his show

 

Ben Johnson’s first poetry show is a philosophical dialogue on creation and robotic life. We meet Herbert who’s life has such an impact on a curious boy, it inspires him to create intelligent robotic life. Johnson’s narrative is personable and gripping as we follow our young boys Shelly like journey on the death of his uncle and his thwarted desire to said uncle back to life. We move into a brief history of robotics and  on to a personal views for and against robots.

Johnson’s show is engaging and full of multi-layered interlinked images. His delivery wouldn’t be out of place on Radio 4, Click or as a television documentary for Sky Arts. The set has functioning robot Ozymandias, a robot Johnson build himself over the time he created the show itself. The body parts were printed out on a 3 D printer and Ozymandias brings the future world and its robotic challenges to life. Johnson shows us singularity in an operating robot when Ozymandias speaks in the show.

His poems range from straight forward free verse narrative to biting satirical ballads which chilling list poems about the rights or lack of rights of robots. The show is interspersed with video clips that juxtapose or support his narrative.

His dry humour also subjects T.S Elliot to the Turing test. The conclusion is hilarious. His tackling of human morals and how they apply to robots via Christian creation myth is a fascinating display of Chinese whispers on an ethical level.

Johnson’s future after he educates us about the uncanny valley, is to show us a world that first embraces then rejects robots. There are fascinating parallels to human rights history such as the robot taking the bus and the bigoted results. ‘No Robot’ remains my favourite piece listing everything a robot cannot do such as own a cat. Johnson pushes us to think beyond our limited view of machines.

I was interested to see how Johnson was going to present his show. He isn’t a theatrical performer and reads his poetry. His clever work around, reading from a book, which just happens to be a bible, works very well because he works hard to maintain his eye contact and engagement with the audience.

Johnson’s show is so rich, I would be happy to see this show several times, to fully absorb and appreciate all the varied views and points he puts across. My only challenges were he needed to slow down and leave gaps between his links and the actual poems to give the audience time to digest the rich tapestry of ideas and images he presents. We also needed the robots voice to be louder, the venue competed

On a personal level as a poet Johnson’s poetry is so finely crafted it makes me want to be a better poet.  Two of us have decided to write or finish writing our shows and have a live reading in April. This is the effect a good work of art can have. y I have a deep interest in robots and robotics and Johnson’s offering is an excellent interesting humane addition to the debate.

Cat Randle, Ben Johnson and Ozymandias the robot

Cat Randle, Ben Johnson and Ozymandias the robot