Saturday, 23 May 2009

New Project

Lately I've been a regular at a new monthly spoken word night in Sheffield - Speak Easy. It's run By John Turner, a local legend whose alter ego, the Saga Lout*, causes affray at a variety of venues in the region.
John is largely responsible for me winning contests in that he bullies me into entering them in the first place, so I'm trying to return the favour - and do my bit to keep the momentum of the well intentioned but sporadic spoken word scene in Sheffield on the up, I'm helping organise and promote it.
So, fully equipped with the knowledge that the two of my three followers who aren't me are on different landmasses to me, I say to you: Come to Speak Easy! 25th of June, Sheffield Hallam Union, 7:30. Be there. In spirit at least!

*Translation for non-brits: Saga: Holiday Company who cater to the over 50s, encouraging them to blow the kids' inheritance on cruises
Lager Lout: British phrase referring to a young man who drinks beer and causes trouble.
Saga Lout: John.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


One of the competitions I entered has come up trumps. I didn't win, but I did make the top ten and I get to be in an anthology with Earlyworks Press. I also win the grand total of £5 (my entry fee) and a free copy of the book. And the right to call myself a published poet. Booyah.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Props in performance poetry. Yes or no?

I'm getting more involved in the performance scene again, thnaks in part to the new Sheffield based open mic night Speakeasy, which I'm hoping to get involved with promoting and organising. As mentioned in my last post, I also got involved in a benefit for Sheffield's annual Peace in the Park festival, and performed a set. Despite trepidation on my behalf from some of the other performers, poems about periods, lesbians and asylum seekers went down a storm. The bill was a mixture of spoken word and music and really did range from the sublime to the ridiculous. High points included a lovely duo called the Finch Charmers and an awesome band called Ubiq, whose percussion section was a beatboxing ex youth theatre comrade of mine. Low points included a solo singer songwriter who did a song which seemed to last for hours, made Coldplay look like Mika in terms of over-earnest self importance, and had the misfortune of a voice reminicsent of an angry John Major. Oh yes.
And then, there was mouse man.
I've seen him at a couple of gigs, this guy, and the sad thing is he's not a bad poet. His use of form is interesting and skilled. But he is lacking any concept of appropriateness (do I mean propriety?). Last time I saw him he read a poem in memorial for a drowned friend, which had a chirpy rhythm, jaunty rhyme scheme and graphic description the last moments of a drowning person. It just made me cringe. This time, he outdid himself. Again, the piece wasn't bad. It was a funny account of trying to capture and rescue a mouse from his 3 cats in the middle of the night, while said rodent eluded both him and its predators. Cats, comedy and a tale of the underdog triumphing? He had me at hello.
And then, as the act drew to a close, he looked at us and asked "...or did he?" Escape, that is. The mouse. Which he pulled from his pocket, dead, in rigor mortis. An actual dead mouse. Is this avante garde? Am I a fuddy duddy for thinking this was disturbing and unnecessary? I've been known to flash my red knickers at audiences when reading menstrual poems, but never actual bloodstained ones. Similarly, a toy or puppet mouse would have been cheesy but cute. But a dead one? Live, as it were, on stage?