I quested into the darkest recesses of twitter for something like verse. Now, I like twitter. But the results, friends, were disappointing….

**— 2  stars
Five retweets, twelve favourites. I don’t like the juxtaposition of ‘under’ and ‘over’, side by side. It might have been deliberate or it might have been clumsy inattention to detail, I couldn’t say. The only imagery is the ‘rip-current’. I don’t know much about the muse. I dislike any “the [concrete noun] of [abstract noun]” phrase except in comedy. 

***– 3 stars
With no retweets or favourites, this poem is much more interesting from the point of view of imagery, although I can’t imagine why there would be cotton in a smoky mouth nor  how cotton or salt relate to the original potholed street.  Read more…

My new vocation as a performance poet is going stonkingly. Two gigs in, I’ve already achieved three lifelong dreams:

1) Make someone laugh.
2) Get nominated for Poet Laureate.
3) Get over 100 youtube views.

A Good Old Yarn

Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham
Hay Brunsdon in her natural condition

Hay Brunsdon in her natural condition

Hosted by outrageously drunk and bawdy poetrix Hay Brunsdon, ‘A Good Old Yarn’ makes the obvious link between spoken word and nautical textiles.

I’m pretty nervous. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to think about what to wear or how messed up my hair is, which makes me feel a fraud since in my experience all performance poets don outrageous outfits and hairstyles. I just want to fit in.

I get to the venue – one of those tiny rooms up lots of stairs,  its walls draped in ropes and boat-patterned material – with just enough time to grab something alcoholic. Only I can’t find anyone to serve me alcohol, anywhere, in the whole theatre, and I feel like weeping in a corner as I realise I’m going onstage stone cold sober. Instead I squash myself onto a seafaring beanbag at the side of the stage and quake.

Dan Holloway looking eccentric and bookish

Dan Holloway looking eccentric and bookish

The first poet is Dan Holloway. He’s a big guy with ringlets, trouser-braces and fingerless gloves, and he beats me hands down in the ‘outrageous clothes’ competition going on in my head. Dan pulses out metrical tales of love under Hungerford Bridge and lonely people locked in houses waiting to Let go. What I particularly like about Dan is the way, in the interval, he so quickly corners me and asks me to perform at events he hosts in Oxford. That’s the sort of networking I like – especially from talented poets.

I’m second. The audience is right there, and there’s no mic to hide behind. I do a spiel about emails that I don’t think comes out too rehearsed and launch into:

And it works! I fly through Thing in the Kitchen with only one glitch on ‘gobbling’, my five minutes are up and I retreat to my beanbag.

Lucinda Murray, a co-conspirator in the Writing Circus project reads a funny-sad poem about sorting through her hoarder grandmother’s possessions. Wrongly, she is all self-deprecating and angsty and stuff. She is also beating me clothes-wise, henna-haired and leather-jacketed.

Then it’s the interval.

It’s the interval. There is still no one at the bar and no alcohol to be found anywhere. I linger so long waiting for someone, anyone, to serve me a drink I miss half of the next poet’s act.

This ‘poet’ wears a grey v-neck and a shirt. That is all you need to know.

Joel Denno is Joel Denno.

And last Joel Denno, a guy I first saw flying his way through the Cheltenham Literature Festival Slam with poems about suited businessmen emerging from the mouth of hell for their lunch break. Joel sports a mohawk, blazer and fabulous green eyeshadow; ladies and gents, we have a winner. His first poem is political, pleading, movingly, for the humane euthanasia of farm crops and weeds. He finishes with a love poem to, well…