Bat Applicants at Blackburne House Cafe
Bat applicants. Bat Applicants. Bat Applicants. Bat Applicants. Go on. Say it out loud. You know you want to!
This is the phrase I came away with from last Friday’s Quiet Compere gig at Blackburne House. This was in Cath Nichols set and I love her for the fact she makes me smile every time I repeat it to myself and even after a week there are no signs of these four syllables losing this magic.
Helen Tookey: “We took what was ugliest and made it ours.” Loved her landscapes and medical terminology. Helen’s book Missel-child is out now: http://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9781847772183
Katie McCloskey: armed her child with ” a cardboard shield and a fake sword.” and told us about “cafes where they learned to swallow air.” No link.
AndrewMcMillan: is memorable for heart-breaking lines: “back across the border the man I love is curled to someone else” and “dressed like kids who have forgotten their games kits. Crying in the toilets.” http://andrewmcmillanpoet.tumblr.com/biography
Jane Aspinall: read an affair series and birds swooped through this and the lines “the safest place to hide a thing is with others of its kind” and ” how they feel for each other when trying not to fall”. Also loved the Tambourine one with the volume theme.
David Bateman: His brief footage of the stars poem began sounding plausible and slowly built to become more difficult to suspend disbelief. I also loved the “Word Wizard” and the idea of making a stutter a luxury item. http://www.publishingnorthwest.co.uk/author/39
In the interval I quietly wandered and overheard several conversations between poets who had not seen each other for years and were delighted to be back together. As well as being a platform for me to meet poets in other cities I feel the fact I am viewing the scene from a distance and trying to include people from both performance and page arenas and from different groups is bringing a different line-up than usually found in these cities. I think this will hopefully have the effect of strengthening the link between poets and introduce poets to other poets they may not have encountered at their regular meetings at poetry nights or workshops.
Stephen O’Shaughnessy: was surprisingly confident for his first ever performance. I loved the detail in his “Contents of a bed-sit” poem and the factory sounds.
Linsdey Holland: lovely sounds “our muscles taut with walk and work.” “The anonymous smell of forgotten crevices.”. So jealous that Lindsey is Chester Zoo Poet in Residence. http://www.chesterzoo.org/plan-your-visit/whats-on/Poet_in_residence_March
Mandy Coe: another line that is joyful to repeat: “smell a yellow pencil and tell you the last thing it wrote.” and “The blanket I wrapped you in” poem was moving. http://www.mandycoe.com/
Cath Nichols: Treated us to an all new set. I loved the Eeyore poem, the bat applicants and world-view widening poems from her trans series. http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/cathnichols
Colin Watts: Hospital as a child poem searching for the familiar “stitches were Connermara cotton.” I felt his sadness at: “Taking down the tree-house.” and “the half an hour with a lump-hammer.” http://www.colinwatts.net/poems.php
Dad was a Man U fan down to the tomato soup he had to eat on game day. Most children grew up with a background sound of blackbirds and watering cans. There was laughter and giddiness, wrestling and paddling pools, but always with a radio commentary and the occasional shushing from the sun lounger. The sound of the pools being read out is home.
Dad taught us the Scouse accent was other, the enemy. Until I was twenty-three I believed this. Then, I met Gary from Skem on summer school in Keele. He whispered the right words into my lonely ears. We shared our dreams, our histories for one night (his included a fiancé back at home), but for one night we kissed and slept beside each other, fully-dressed.
In that night, I developed a love for the Merseyside accent, by osmosis, it represented a daring, a small rebellion, a balm, a stepping away from all that was safe and home. It was an attractive alternative to nasal Manchester tones.
My Dad has a tattoo “Born in Ancoats, 1953” and he used to own a harsh Ardwick accent. Until my Mum with her slight Brummie undertone, despite the elocution lessons, took it and softened it, tamed it and made it fit into suburban Stockport. I remember when he called his parents. To an eight-year old the reversion to broad East Manc. was total and beguiling.
Things I learnt from Liverpool gig
When there isn’t a mic make sure my Quiet intros are loud enough. Not to panic about only having sold 5 tickets in advance until the day, because there will be a sufficient walk-up audience. That rhyming poems are often missed by some poets and to take a couple of my rhyming poems along if the evening is almost purely free verse to change the pace and rhythm.