The Quiet Compere Hull – Meet me at the nose of this cow a week on Friday. Bring Cake (Sue Lozynskyj).

I had never been to Hull before and enjoyed a jaunt around the Arcades and the indoor market, complete with the Hull Wall of Fame including The Housemartins, Philip Larkin and others I knew of and surprisingly, to me, Reece Shearsmith. I found Ye Olde White Harte on Silver Street. A striking building built in 1550. The locals furnished it with stories too. From the man who was calling the doctor for an urgent appointment for heart palpitations with a pint in front of him, the man who was asking his wife if a cheque had arrive while ‘having a coffee’ (pint) to the three women who were happy to chat with me about the ghostly goings on in their respective workplaces – radios turning on, strange figures. In the evening it should have come as no surprise to me when two of the audience had to leave (due to emergencies) before the end of the first half and two performers left before I could pay them. Life was happening in stereo the day I visited Hull

Alyx Tamminen: In her poem Fight Flight or Withstand about escaping an abusive relationship the woman was ‘not worth the air she was done breathing in’ and wanted ‘a home where her bones won’t break on the soil.’ No link.

Wendy Pratt: In one of Wendy’s poems ‘the air span diamonds out of sea fret’ and she instructs you to ‘stop folding the sky through the creases of your skin.’ I loved the idea of mourning the phasing out of the fog-horns and the fact they could ‘lull a child to sleep from ten miles away’ and ‘the salt-code inside’ us.
Pamphlet Nan Hardwick Turns into a Hare and her full collection Museum Pieces are both published by Prolebooks and her new one, Lapstrake is published by Flarestack Poets.

Johanna Boal:
Johanna read The Drowning, a revisited poem in response to Calais refugee news. Then she took us on a Hull Carnival ride. This poem is included in Johanna’s pamphlet Cardboard City published by Poetry Space.

Miki Higgins:
The lines that struck me most were: ‘The floor he made from his jealousies and fears/The bars from empty promises’ and ‘There is no colour, there is no colour…The soul is a savage thing…’ No link.

Anarchist Rob Eunson:
I loved the line from What the world wants me to be about the ‘correct theatrical gesture – left hand over knitted brow to convey deep thought’ and the concise ‘we are all damaged inside. I think even you can see that.’

Carol Robson:
The lines that struck me particularly were from Old School about ‘hard, but damn well happy times.’ the fact that Women’s Space in Spoken Word: ‘is genderless’ was Carol’s response to ‘space’ theme.
Sue Lozynskyj:
‘Let dance listen until the last note – rocks decorated by drops of pitch’. I love her instructions to ‘meet me at the nose of this cow a week on Friday. Bring Cake.’ I smiled at the dishing out of the flags and how one is bestowed for ‘the most imaginative use of seaweed’ and this takes the audience off in all directions in our heads. ‘There is nothing so musical as an ambulance siren when you know it is coming for you.’

Bernie Cullen:
After the emergencies in the room ‘searching for connect and steady mode’ after a life upset felt right. Her tsunami poem was moving, especially the line ‘hair had been cut, teeth mended, your smile a little different’ and my favourite the line ‘a history of the world’s pain distilled to perfect complaint.’

Jim Higo:
I love the rhythm of the line: ‘I’ve got a funeral suit and christening trousers’ and the sadness of the repetition in There is a man lost in the supermarket and he is shopping for one. The title line repeated as a kind of alarm call.
Jim hosts Away with Words:

Catherine Scott:
Catherine performed Thanks for that, we’ll have that! poem about Greece ‘the rest of the world looked away, but still went there on holiday.’ and the poem about the miners’ family holidays in Rhyl.

The night was intense and for a gathering of a couple of dozen humans in a room there were a whole lot of emergencies going on with several audience having to leave early.

A Shrinking of shrugs, mermaids and carbon monoxide poisoning – Worcester blog

On arriving at the Hive I met Steve Wilson (after so many phone calls and emails in planning stages) who was taller and didn’t have the right colour hair for my phone vision. The Hive and Steve were brilliant hosts. I discovered the venue was unlicenced and decided to grab a pub lunch with a pint before the event, low on time my cheap B and B/pub agreed to bring it up to me at no charge. Height of sophistication fish and chips on my bed in pyjamas with Porridge on the TV.

Catherine Crosswell: Catherine’s lively style that jumped between weird and dark and funny made her a perfect person to start the evening. Her tape measure that measures arms lengths is genius. She warns that ‘we will continue to auto-correct those who do not suspect/or believe.’

Mike Alma: put beautiful postcards of war on chairs to accompany his devastating poems, particularly striking the line ‘before insanity ploughed the earth and devoured souls’. He enlisted audience member, Moira, for the second voice in Letters to a soldier at the front both poems are in Mike’s book, Fragments of the Great War.
No link available.

Nina Lewis: I loved her matching ears poem about her nephew ‘I am your auntie – the one with the matching ears.’ Your poem about music was glorious ‘Our emotions are carried on F sharps and B flats. I let you carry me on melody alone. Cello notes absorb the darkness.’ Nina Lewis You Tube

Jasmine Gardosi: Jasmine brought more weird and unsettling pieces (darker than Catherine). She performed a poem about writing in a night-club at the side of dance floor and broke up the sentences as if sound disturbance was doing this. I loved the idea of her beginning to ‘leave blueprints all over her left limb’ and the fact ‘she ignores the men as sticky as the floor – they would like to leave their digits on her wrist.’ – love the double use of digits here. I can safely say her take on the space theme to produce a piece about a family dying carbon-monoxide poisoning will probably be the only one. and @jasminegardosi on twitter

Neil Laurenson: Loved the way Neil came on after the strange storm that is Jasmine and kicked off with a gentle intro poem where ‘he was so softly spoken that they thought he was miming’ and he was going to ‘perfect his talent of being unheard’. The tone of Shrinking of Shrugs was delicious. It listed the small things a partner has done wrong and ends ‘the purpose of this lecture is to save our marriage.’ Henry Reed’s poem Naming of Parts is one of Neil’s favourites, he said it was a joy to mimic it in some way!

Adrian Mealing:
I loved Adrian’s Number Ten zero hours cat and the rhythmic style that meant ‘you think by now I’d have a contract’ and the fact the cat playfully leaves a ‘message’. Adrian’s line in his Mum poem about having ‘nice neighbours and cheese omelettes’ amused me. What more could anyone want? He had left-handed version of a hedge-trimmer poem (after an accident). Genius.
Link for Adrian & The Very Grimm Brothers is
Myfanwy Fox: In Myfanwy’s poem about her grandma: “Dolly Windmill won’t eat margarine/It tastes of despair in its greasy slide -/ there she blows! A slick of death/spreading on an oily tide.’

Claire Walker: Claire came in tough and told us we had to ‘Make me believe it/I want to see words on your lips’. Her mermaid poem was constructed of so many quotable lines I couldn’t record them all. ‘Don’t be fooled by my soft curves,/this tail carves the ocean with thoughts/that won’t be confined to land,’ and the line in Teaching your daughter to crack eggs ‘Tell her to remember not all broken things are wrong’ is going to remain with me for months. Beautiful and brief and knowing.
Claire’s pamphlet The girl who grew into a crocodile is available in Autumn 2015 here;

Carl Sealeaf: I love ‘we won’t need scratched graffitti to know that we are here.’ Genius to capture the quietness in a ‘restaurant crowded with separate silences.’ and the fact you could ‘use silence against each other.’ Advice: ‘Find a good mirror, or still water or a good dance track’.

Clive Dee: read us a trees and death poem ‘a wood is made of death and through that death we live.’ In Unfolding Wings these lines sang ‘Mountains and valleys crease the paper/to fold a base to make a bird/neck and beak tail and wings/sunken paper muscled back/a thousand folds for luck’.

I continued my poetry weekend with a full day and night in Stratford for Jo Bell’s 52 group poetry picnic – the whole weekend felt like one massive poetry hug.


I don’t usually include feedback in the blogs, but this was so glowing I had to:

‘Thanks for constructing a beautiful listening post, a room for hearts & ears where we enjoyed a rainbow of styles & subjects from Botany Bay to Chemistry Kevin. You set a little powder keg under the palm tree and encourage the evening’s castaways to light the fuse. It’s perfect. You’re terrific. You do a lovely job. My but you work so hard and affectionately at this game of the imagination.’ Adrian Mealing, The Very Grimm Brothers.

Keep track of Quiet Compere Tour here

or on twitter @quietcomperemcr

The Quiet Compere Tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The Quiet Compere Tour 2014 – End of year blog (Part 3/3) – York/Leeds/Sheffield/Stockport/Special Mentions

York – dislocation of poets

One of the parts of the tour I was looking forward to was savouring local accents and slang, in this respect York was a disappointment, but in terms of poetry, poets, audience friendliness of locals for a first gig away from home this was a cracking first away date. The venue was both large and intimate and we happily filled the area and even needed to source more chairs when the turnout more  than doubled on the night.

Hmm! This is a difficult one as I decided my blogs were too waffly after the Manchester one and didn’t put as much detail here! Oops! Rookie error!

Poetry Highlights for me:

Will Kemp’s poem about a family falling into water and keeping tally was touching and spare.

Chris Singleton’s T’was the night before pay day received a lively response.

Amina Rose’s set was gentle and musical.

Non-poetry highlights:

Oz Hardwick buying me a cheese scone (at the bakery that opened until midnight and where they had York accents!) and taking me the circuitous route home to avoid stag dos.


Leeds – a warmth of poets

Poetry Highlights for me:

Emma Decent’s poem Advice from a Stone on traveling alone has stayed with me. The line that has stuck, even now, is: “Your centre will hold you.”

Martin Vosper: performed his Leeds Prayer which gets better on every listen and as I learn more areas of Leeds. “Superman writes poetry” was playful as Superman was “allowing himself a little laugh”, “lingering over his lycra” and there was a “frisson of a fetish shared”.

Ian Duhig: “The Lammas Hireling” was an excellent poem to take us to the break and I love the line “in a sack that grew lighter with every step.”

Steve O’Connor: took us with him and got us lost in the sounds of speech and landscape in “an embrace that sustains like the ocean’s roar.” and “the noise of clouds at sunset”.

John Siddique: His “End of the mango season poem” was powerful and moving and he ended with a lighter piece, which was an ideal to finish the evening, though it is the mangos that remain with me.

Non-poetry highlights:

The surprise addition of Laura Cole on keyboard to accompany Rommi Smith as “Gloria Silver” washed over us.

Lines that stayed with me:

Caleb Parkin: “Let us honour the Hangover Pig Angel”.

Sheffield – an amusement of poets

Poetry Highlights for me:

Sarah Hymas: brought paper boats and exquisite artworks of poetry volumes.

Helen Mort: The poem about walking the Swiss Alps in a crinoline “An easy day for a lady” amused me.

Anne Caldwell: She “longed for a starless sky/short circuited everything/a cliff-top house where she sang to herself”.

Genevieve L Walsh: rhymed “breasts” and “BBC North West”. I don’t need to say more!


Non-Quiet Compere event Highlights:

Picture the Poet exhibition at Graves Gallery – half an hour of looking at still poets in print.

Sheffield Poetry Business Writer’s Day: I was talked into buying a new train ticket to stay long enough to stay for the writing session run by Ann and Peter Sansom – it had been too long and was lovely to share more time and words with Lindsey Holland, Carole Bromley and Martin Collins here.

Sheffield: I love your space and street art, your compactness and charm. It is so compact I feel I know it well, from the back streets of Vicar Lane and Campo Lane to West Bar roundabout in rush hour and the Graves Gallery.


Lines that have stayed with me:

“Always give hope back in the same shape it was given, but bigger”. Gav Roberts

“Most of all we wanted song/its tide in our ribs.” River Wolton

Stockport – a questioning of poets.

Poetry Highlights for me:

Jane Rogerson’s Watching Jaws with Louis  poem. Genius. All questions

Sarah Maxwell brought us daftness interspersed with medical terminology in What kind of bug would you be?.

Helen Clare: I want the “gentle-pedal” Helen mentioned and the delicacy of “Blackberrying without stains on your fingers”.

Philip Davenport: Without love we are no thing was harrowing as was the repeated line “wolf in drag”. 

Dominic Berry: The refrain “men in suits, boys in school uniform” says so much in few words. He finished the tour with a Dragon in our homework.


Non-Poetry highlights:

The Blue Cat Café in Heaton Moor was one of the best venues on the tour.

My Mum and Dad came along to see what the tour was all about.

The venue was buzzing from before doors at half seven.


Lines that stayed with me:

In Ambush Street “the ghosts of hope will meet”. Steph Portersmith


Special Mentions:

Co-hosts: Jenni Pascoe and Ann Wilson. xxx

Joy France: for attending 5 events out of 12 this year. Plus for her excellent promoting throughout the tour


Sarah James: For advising me so expertly on the Worcester and Birmingham poets


Colin Davies and Big Charlie Poet for helping set up Lancaster without me asking. Stars!


Jo Bell: For the inspiration through 52 for a lot of the poems performed and I met 27 poets whose work I knew better through the 52 group before I met them, which helped me balance the line-ups better than I would have been able to without this knowledge! And for letting me promote the tour here and there.

Sheffield, Leeds and Blackpool: Highest number of poets stayed behind after to share the poetry buzz.

Top Venues: Midland Arts Centre (Birmingham), Three Minute Theatre (Manchester), Blue Cat Café (Heaton Moor), The Imperial Hotel (Blackpool) and CityScreen (York), Alexanders Bar (Chester) and Brewery Arts Centre (Kendal) and Seven Arts (Leeds) for being more than just venues.

Steve Nash, Steph Pike and Write Out Loud for making my first experiences of interviews and radio so enjoyable.

Reuben Woolley, Susan Deer Cloud, Erfan Daliri for traveling from Spain, America and Australia to be part of the tour.

Colin Davies, Tony Walsh, Reuben Woolley and Jo Bell for sharing and retweets.


Apologies that I could not mention everyone. Thanks to all performers, sharers and supporters and for all the positive feedback. Thanks to anyone from the audiences or who sent encouraging messages the day before.

The Quiet Compere Tour is ‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’

Look out for the national tour next year. Find dates below:

Quiet Compere National Tour 2015 – Confirmed Schedule 

Date                                        City                 Venue

Thursday 5th March               Halifax                        Bar Up –

(co-host Spoken Weird)

Friday 27th March                  Durham           The Old Cinema Laundrette 

Friday 15th May                     Chesterfield    Chesterfield Labour Club

Saturday 16th May                 Oxford                        Albion Beatnik Bookshop

Friday 26th June                     Ulverston        Bardsea Malt Kiln (Co-host Kim Moore)

Friday 10th July                      Worcester       The Hive

Friday 4th September              Hull                 Union Mash-up

Saturday 12th September      Exeter             The Phoenix Voodoo Lounge (co-host – Alasdair Paterson)

Tuesday 13th October             London 1         Phoenix Artist Club, Camden

Wednesday 14th October        London 2         Hackney Attic

Thursday 15th October                       Norwich          The Bird Cage(Co-host Live Lit Lounge)

Friday 20th November                        Cheltenham     The Strand Hotel




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’


Quiet Compere End of Year Blog – Part 1 (of 3)

Featuring Blackpool/Kendal/Newcastle and Birmingham round-ups

4 dates on the tour sold out: Out of these, two were co-hosted by regular nights (Ann Wilson of Verbalise in Kendal and Jenni Pascoe of Jibba Jabba in Newcastle). Another was the first date of the tour and on home turf.

Blackpool – a raucousness of poets

The fourth was Blackpool, with only 5 tickets sold in advance and one poet travelling from Spain (Reuben Woolley) to be there, the nerves were jangling. This was the first event where there was going to be a press presence. It was August Bank Holiday Friday. Had all the poets gone away? Would there be more performers than audience? My way of thinking has always been that if the audience numbers match the number of performers or are higher you have yourself an event. In the afternoon Joy France led a few of us as Feral Poets on the Comedy Carpet in front on the tower. I downed a swift whisky and pint of ale and ventured onto the carpet in a pink wig to read my poetry to complete and unsuspecting strangers and in the process met Colin Davies and Reuben. I had also checked out the venue on arrival. The Churchill Room at The Imperial Hotel was imposing and the best on the tour that wasn’t set up as a gig venue (with lighting and tech).

At the door I was pleased as there were a dozen audience seated before official doors. Then they kept coming until every seat was taken. As well as the number of audience being a triumph the enthusiasm was tangible. Steve Stroud kicked us off with his machine-gun style wordplay. The crowd were respectful and silent when the poems aimed to elicit this response, but delightfully raucous when called upon. Colin had mentioned he was going to perform his masturbation poem, so I took the challenge and performed mine (possibly for the only time ever), a poem written from a prompt to write erotic poetry (from Jo Bell’s excellent 52 group).

The poetry highlights for me were:

Laura Alice Nation: she rarely performs and her poem about anorexia was raw and honest and I love the hope and control in the line “I am not the brittle one you last saw”.

Big Charlie Poet: It’s the grit that makes the pearl poem – for the first time with that t-shirt.

The non-poetry highlight:

Joy managed to magically get the section of illuminations in front of The Imperial lit for the end of the event!

The line that stuck with me:

Christopher James Heyworth: “Loneliness in crowded places is a seaside specialty”


Newcastle – a dark amusement of poets

Jenni Pascoe co-hosted in Quiet Compere style throughout and exploded at the end to everyone’s amusement. She really reined in her usual compere style and kindly let me take charge of Jibba Jabba for a couple of hours.

The poetry highlights for me were:

Sky Hawkins: Who made me laugh out loud several times by catching me off-guard.

Ettrick Scott: Partly because of his performance style and partly because he explained all the slang terms to me after!  

The non-poetry highlight:

On my first trip to Newcastle: The Quayside Seaside and a dashed pint in The Crown Posada.

The line that stuck with me:

Steve Urwin performed an “in my box” poem and mixed the abstract with the concrete: “clutter hidden behind a screen/leaving silent space/in which to dream.”


Kendal – a respect of poets 

Ann Wilson is a poetic force in Kendal. She was on chatty form and an excellent hostess. The audience at The Brewery Arts Centre were so respectfully silent I paused a couple of times in the night to hold the tension in the room for a few seconds.

The Poetry Highlights for me were:

Kim Moore surprised laughter from me with her rant about Brass Band students: She was putting a curse on the parents of these children that would: “involve marching

and outdoors and coldness”.

Mark Mace Smith: Mainly for his sideways “Can I get away with this?” glance and then a shrug “Well, I’m going to do it anyway!”

Non-poetry Highlights:

Meeting Geraldine Green and Susan Deer Cloud the night before and Geraldine’s Write to Roam workshop. Staying on Jane’s farm and witnessing newly born lambs twice in one day (tups and gimmers).

The line that stuck with me:

Polly Atkin: “Tonight we are full with species of madness”.


Birmingham – an encouragement of poets

Birmingham, happily, sneaked into the tour of the North, partly because my geography of the UK is sketchy and partly because I feel an affinity with it, even though I’ve only been there twice. This event was particularly scary to me as I had not met any of the performers until six weeks before (when I met Sarah James briefly) when flyering. Both the Worcester and the Birmingham contingent were brimming with welcome. The Midland Arts Centre had a Green Room and was the poshest and most expensive on the tour. Well worth it to have experienced this, but a little over budget for hire fees of this level to be sustainable across the tour.

The Poetry Highlights for me were:

Bobby Parker: His pieces were raw, but tempered with a delicate, dark humour.

Ddotti Bluebell: Her style was expressive and entertaining and action photos I got of her amused me!

Matt Man Windle: Birmingham’s Boxing Poet. The first poet to make me cry on the tour with “Awe of us.” A poem about overcoming bullying.

Ruth Stacey: Weaved delicate verse and then stunned us with “the bear who brings white roses that smell of other girls”.

Non-poetry highlights:

The Brummie welcome and the wealth of regional accents strong and subtle among the performers.

Three blog reviews of the event were posted within 24 hours.

Sarah James expertise of the local poets and styles which was essential to me in pulling this event together.

The lines that stayed with me:

Ian Bowkett: “Tomorrow we wake up better people with longer hair and a lesson learnt.”

Charlie Jordan: “Bridges are where I feel small.”

The Quiet Compere is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Stockport blog – A buzzing finale with a ‘questioning’ of poets, two wasp poems and a man in a Lacoste tracksuit

The Blue Cat Café in Heaton Moor was an excellent venue to host the finale of The Quiet Compere tour of the North. I think the audience gathered earliest of all this year with the venue buzzing by doors at half seven.


This could have been a very different event for me as it may have been the end, but as the tour continues next year it was a celebration of a great year and a taste of what is to follow next year.  Was brilliant to have family as well as friends in the crowd.  Also among the performers were my first consultant boss, a surgeon I used to babysit for making his debut performance and my first ever creative-writing tutor from Arts and Health Stockport.  Unfortunately, my GCSE English teacher had to withdraw from the line-up, she is also a cracking poet and this was a disappointment to me, but the replacements I managed to rustle up were high-quality and well-received.


I will have to have a look at my stats, but I think Stockport was the night where most poets had written a poem on the Volume theme, a fitting note to end on. A round- up of the year blog to follow in the next week.



First Half


Joy Winkler: The images in her volume poem was striking, especially “sings me back into a cave of shadows” and from Stolen Rowan Berries: describing playing a violin as she  “skims sins along the strings”.


Zach Roddis: I always enjoy “You only live fifty million times” poem and the repetitive tweets surround sound. Here he is performing at the excellent Evidently, Salford:


Bill Tait:. “Garish colour. Red against the pavement grey” sleeping-bag image has stayed with me. The repetition of months in the barnacle goose migration piece were effective. No web-site available.


Janet Rogerson: “Watching Jaws with Louis” is genius. A taster:  “Why don’t they close the beach? Is that our shark book? Do sharks die when they stop moving? Why are they laughing? Are they drunk? Why didn’t they close the beach?” this carries on for 57 questions! The whole poem is available in Black Horse magazine here: Her blog and pamphlet details here:


Sarah Maxwell:. Sarah brought us daftness interspersed with medical terminology in “What kind of bug would you be?”. We all walked “to the park with Chloe” when we could “tread again as a child”. And Sarah’s questioning by all at the birth of Jesus was well-executed and continued the questioning theme. No website available.




Second half


Solomon Scribble: “a frown among the flowers” was an outstanding phrase in the seasonal haiku. I am now going to play the dating site registration numbers game.  I was delighted to hear “The wasp king” again. The incantation rhythm reminds me of Dead Poet’s Society.


Helen Clare: I want the “gentle-pedal” Helen mentioned and the delicacy of “Blackberrying without stains on your fingers”. Find Helen’s blog here and look and check out her new collection Entomology here:


Steph Portersmith: In Ambush Street “the ghosts of hope will meet”. Steph took volume and fashioned it expertly into an overflowing pot and she became “lost on an island a moment wide.”


Philip Davenport: “Without love we are no thing” was harrowing as was the repeated line “wolf in drag”.  The man in the Lacoste tracksuit has stuck with me and may feature in the blog title.


Dominic Berry: The refrain “men in suits, boys in school uniform” is brilliant and says so much in few words. The “smart” not “warm hearts” sad. I always like to see Dominic immersed in  his children’s poetry and he finished with a dragon trapped in a homework book and the dilemma over whether to hand it in .


Stockport poem:


If you expect your hometown to be the same as in 1989…


…you will fail at buying lunch

No pasties from Spinks,

No toffee donut in the underpass.

Even in Superdrug you can only buy one component of your Wheat Crunchies, Panda pop, shortbread lunch

You wonder about the fate of barrels

that used to hold spices

nuts and yoghurt raisins

in the Pic mix store.


… you will be disappointed if you try to find

The £3.99 Bag Shop every school bag came from

C&A – where you bought your first proper dress, red and strappy, floorlength and

fitted to your new curves

The place on Higher Hillgate that sold Bros patches

for your fashionable torn jeans.


… you won’t be able to buy Cloisonne earrings

from Salisburys.

…you will still feel like you are fourteen

if you go into Ann Summers


…you will grin as those shops that remain


remind you of long hours with fingers

fast and then resting

at the latest Double Four find:

A re-released Smiths single

The new Carter album of vinyl

A double A side by a disco band

whose name sounds like the late 50s


you will stand in Stolen from Ivor

stunned that teenagers can still buy

their cheap T-shirts and logo hoodies

where you did

and lumberjack shirts

are back in fashion.


…you will mourn Cobwebs,

closed seventeen years, though its red sign looks freshly painted,

where you spent Saturday hours

lusting after velvet and tie-dye

and bathing in the sandalwood of ’73.

Usually leaving with another incense holder

or a new CND or Ying Yang necklace.

Or with a birthday money dress,

a patchwork hat you’ll wear once.






Dr. Who, puberty, and an organisation of poets at Alexander’s Bar, Chester

Chester has an organisation of poets. Most had printed off running order and had timed their sets to perfection. The venue was perfect for poetry and the only issue was a change of lighting which meant the poet was either blinded or in almost darkness. It was mainly a page poetry event. (I am thinking of going back over my blogs posts of the year and in a massive summing up naming what a group of poets would be in each town in my experience).

Angela Topping: wrote “The missing volume” with one day’s notice.  I  loved the Dr Who poems. John Pertwee was with her in puberty.  “Levis, lace and scent”.          “No TARDIS to travel back to myself” is a beautiful description of puberty!.

Katy Konrad Poet: was the first poet on the tour who attempted to rhyme Quiet Compere premiere with anything and chose “derriere”. Made me smile. I enjoyed her cosmetics to cosmetic surgery poem. Particularly “thighs sculpted. Confidence catapulted.” Your Bloodlines poem was stunning. “No longer a donor and no longer afraid of Dr Who.  He protected them and made them brave.”

Edwin Stockdale: “Salt-water footprints” and “I peer at the brittle glitter of stars and my heart aches.” The apparent perfection in “Jane takes the night air” was potent.  “A manicured house, a perfect life in a mirage.”

Jan Dean: from her description of birth as “the trick of clotting cell soup into ravelled flesh.” we take a swift leap through time to “now you are tall and the Living Room is full of legs.” I am always won over by an incantation of train and bus-stops. The everdayness of the stop names and the fact they become unnoticed to those who live there and exotic or scary to those who don’t.

Christopher Coey: “Geography is greater on foot.” “We had covered more than miles on the scale of who we are.” Loved his delicate rhythm and rhyme.  “We are the show. It does add up. Just not how we ever thought it would.” Universal themes delivered with ease and style, appearing effortless, yet so considered.


David J Costello: took volume and made it about DNA. “Tutoring tunes” and “stubborn anthems” and the in the MRI poems the shock of “a mildewed void the size and shape of me.” and in the scans “I saw the darkest workings of myself.”

Maureen Weldon: poems stuffed with sounds “listen to the wind, observe the sun” “the bump, flump, bump of the waves.” Midnight Robin launched in November.

Jake Campbell: The language in the “Siegfried Sassoon” poem looped around me and pulled me into the set.” The dog on the cliff poem was heart-ripping. “Cliff-side to a denim sky.” “He hopes never to be forced to carry a child this way.” Loved the variety in your set.  Match poem “between Helly Hansen jackets and syllables that smell of Grolsch.”


Jim Bennett: Performed an accomplished and varied set incorporating both page and performance poetry.

Gill McEvoy: described an “ochre stubble” of grass. Her rape poem was stunning and difficult “inside its boundary I have pared myself to the bone. ” Also her deep remission poem was incredibly honest and raw.

I didn’t write a specific poem while I was in Chester, but as it was a few days after Halloween will include the one below, to pull us back to Halloween and away from Christmas that is still a month away. Only one date left of tour of North in 2014.

Three notes and a black screen.

The amber glow of ritual.

Our lights off, candles lit

to fan the wings of fear within.

The 5/4 time of a synth playing

3 notes and a black screen

invested with menace.

Even the first time.

The familiar pumpkin

moving closer with candlelit intensity

until we are inside the carved eye.

Yellow font flashes red with threat.

We know Michael is coming.

Blue Gnus, woofers and tweeters and The Old Dungeon Ghyll – Lancaster blog

I have had a couple of comments by audience at other venues that none of the poets rhyme and they would have been content with the number of poets who rhymed and rhymed well, without strife/life and rain/pain making any kind of appearance within couplets!

Steve Fairclough’s first volume poem was called “Reference Red” and set in a library. He also read a second one called “Woofers and Tweeters”. An excellent title and a poem about those people who turn up their volume to fill a room, or more often for me, a tram! He ended the set with a tryst in a library poem. His set could have all been based on volume and he wasn’t the last poet to achieve this feat in Lancaster.

Erfan Daliri: was the first poet on the tour who has managed to fill their ten minutes with one poem. Everyone IS looking for a place “where they no longer have to shoot down stars to fulfil their heart’s desires.” “Love will be the smile we give away for free.” and the line “they drink so they don’t have to cry.” Heart-breakingly honest.

Rich Davenport: I love the Blue Gnu Haiku and when he “caused a palaver in a brown balaclava”.

Trev Meaney:. I love your Just for Men poem too! Poem about chicken with a disclaimer. “No chickens harmed in this poem”. Not a veggie in the room when asked. I imagine the number of hands in the air at a Chorlton event would have been much higher!

Jennifer Copley: She fell in love with a word. Beautiful.  The volume of feathers worked well “untroubled, white”.

Ashley Lister: More clever rhyming here. Erotic fiction. Wakes some up and shocks others. Ashley kindly agreed to fill in for Lisa Bower who could not make the event.

Pauline Keith’s slaughterhouse collection was well-balanced and provided a different tone to the evening, full of variety. She thought she had no volume in there, but I heard: “Distance silenced all sound but the wind” and we could also count the volume of animals passing through the slaughter-house.

Ian Seed: I loved “Sometimes a city is shown its own reflection in the sky.”

Elizabeth Burns: Austerity and the decadence of “fresh grapes and flowers in winter” by those “fuelled by love”. and from her Wuthering Height poem:  “transmute them, lace them with honesty and cream.”  I loved the Icarus poem. Especially the line “then the fine onion-skin of her dictionaries will turn to wings”

Rachel McGladdery:  Her 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.

My learning curve:

Don’t mix performance and page quite to this extent. I think the order of the poets was part of the problem with the night not hanging together as well as other events. One issue with this is working out what type of set poets intend to perform. Some poets are so versatile they perform comedy sets, out-and-out performance sets and more reflective quieter sets depending on the day. I don’t want to be prescriptive, but I may ask poets vaguely what style they are going to perform in next year so I can balance the running order better. A cancellation on the morning meant I did not get to check out one poet’s material and work out where to fit him among the other ten.

I arrived at venue quarter of an hour before the event started and Big Char lie Poet and Colin Davies had kindly laid the room out. I make a rule of arriving at any venue a couple of hours before the event to address any issues I may not know about until seeing the space and the light, etc. On this occasion I had to work Sunday afternoon before traveling to Lancaster and time was unavoidably tight! Next year I will book holiday well in advance and do everything possible to see the venue two hours before the event. Also, I am going to enlist local poet/promoter/venue liaison from one of the performers of each event, with it being a national tour.


The poem below partly came about because of Rich Davenport’s Blue Gnu haiku: 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

If I was a wasp.

Found myself in November

I’d sting everything.

Paper boats and dancing poets at Shakespeare’s, Sheffield


Sheffield, I love your space and street art, your compactness and charm. Sheffield is a place I feel I could direct people around after two days of finding my way. From the back streets of Vicar Lane and Campo Lane to West Bar roundabout in rush hour and the Graves Gallery.

I visited the Picture the Poet exhibition at Graves Gallery on the way to my accommodation and chatted with a few visitors about poetry. If I’d known it was on in advance I would have arrived earlier and accosted all the patrons with Sheffield Quiet Compere flyers.


I went to check out the venue in the afternoon and my main concern was that the lights were not powerful or pointed at the stage. I had brief visions of the Quiet Compere holding a torch to each poet’s papers. Would have been memorable, but given a gaffer tape impression of the tour. Not a review I am really aiming for. This is the third gig where the mic has been done away with. (Liverpool and Blackpool were the other two). The wandering poets make the event feel less “us and them”, but also made it more difficult for me to take photos of the performers – The mic leash would have kept them out of the lights.


Gav Roberts: kicked off the evening with considered words and Paper boats – the theme of water and boats was to continue through the night and we even had real paper boats on the table! I liked his feelings folded away and love the idea that we should: “Always give hope back in the same shape it was given, but bigger”.

Sarah Hymas: brought paper boats and exquisite artworks of poetry volumes. She has decided to write about water until she’s bored if it! I loved “I am silence or instruction” and the “intimacy of forecast”.

Helen Mort: A local reference to Fagin’s evil pub quiz feels very familiar. Helen admitted she is in fact 80% limestone. The poem about walking the Swiss Alps in a crinoline “An easy day for a lady” amused me. 


River Wolton:. “Even the shy spelled out/their names/on strangers’ palms” and “Most of all we wanted song/its tide in our ribs.” Were lines that have stayed me from River’s set. I loved the ant poem and the story at the beginning about carefully forming it to the number of legs of an ant (then realising they didn’t have eight legs!).

Alan Halsey: The bits of noise and indecipherable commentary were mixed in with the balm of real words. I have no idea what this performance was and whether I like it or not, but it was unusual. Alan is the first poet on the tour who has taken volume in the sense of books (I think). The book title list poem amuse me, a line from it: “Origin of Evil, The – An epic poem”.

Martin Collins: read an excellent internet dating poem. I loved the prayer boats and their echo through the who of the night and the water that ran through the event.

Geraldine Monk: Her faulty sound system poem and it went down very well with the audience. The poem was set on a boat so the theme continued.

Jonathan Eyre: “landing on the moon was the start of the end of mankind/ Frogs are dreaming of the days of tadpoles” the water continues and becomes political. His sex cashpoint poem pays off.

Anne Caldwell: She “longed for a starless sky/short circuited everything/a cliff-top house where she sang to herself”. The incantations of places and flowers in the poem Imagining her own death. I had to pause for a second when the son chose his “favourite aunt for a mother” and the solemnity of the poem was lost for a second after the earlier poem stuffed with “ants”.

Genevieve L Walsh: rhymed breasts and BBC North West. Got to admire that! I always want Gen to “do” the Depeche Mode one and the skill she has of getting everyone to listen and empathise before she starts.

At least half a dozen poets and audience hung around after the event for a couple of beers. This left me with a warm feeling and the continuation of the night, rather than suddenly saying a couple of dozen goodbyes and finding myself stranded in an empty place or alone in a place busy with other people’s lives where I feel I no longer belong.

On the Saturday I stayed on for the Sheffield Writer’s Day and I wrote the piece below at the workshop:

Leaving on a train when you are not the destination

I leave the last tears

I can cry for you

on Platform 3

of Stockport Station.

On Brighton beach

I leave the stone

you gave me

smoother than today.

On my cousin’s couch


in a tearless grief

I leave self-pity.

At the sea’s edge

I leave your Budweiser top

(that smells of Ariel and Lynx Africa)

Waves roughly take it.

Promenade footsteps

and the growl

of a pebble shore

erode sentiment.

As the train pulls into

Stockport station

I realise I left the fear of alone

on Brighton beach.

Oh and I do know this is the Sheffield blog, but more news soon about the National Bid success. Quiet Compere will be continuing in 2015 with a National Tour. Happy dance. xxx