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.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/katykonrad

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.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/edwinstockdale

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.  http://www.jandean.co.uk/

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. https://www.facebook.com/AmpWirral/posts/576921439009084


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.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidjcostello

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. http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk/members/maureenweldon.shtml

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.”  http://www.inpressbooks.co.uk/author/c/jake-campbell-7440/definitions-of-distance-1/


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. http://www.steve-fairclough.co.uk/apps/blog

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. http://erfandaliri.com/

Rich Davenport: I love the Blue Gnu Haiku and when he “caused a palaver in a brown balaclava”. http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/richdavenport

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! http://trevormeaney.co.uk/

Jennifer Copley: She fell in love with a word. Beautiful.  The volume of feathers worked well “untroubled, white”. http://www.jennifercopley.co.uk/

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. http://www.ashleylister.co.uk/

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. http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/paulinekeithpage.html

Ian Seed: I loved “Sometimes a city is shown its own reflection in the sky.” http://www.chester.ac.uk/departments/english/staff/academic-staff/dr-ian-seed

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” http://www.elizabethburnspoetry.co.uk/

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.  http://writeoutloud.net/profiles/rachelmcgladdery

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

Raucous, yet Respectful. An Illuminated Exit – Blackpool Blog – 22nd August 2014

This was the scariest run up to a gig I have had so far this year. On Thursday I checked and we had sold one online ticket, on Friday (day of the gig) we had sold five!!! One performer had made his way over from Spain and I was hoping it would be more than us performing to each other! On the evening I set up the door and prepared for possibly a dozen punters. By the time we closed the doors we had 45 in a 50 capacity room. Another four came in quietly after we started. This event that was making me panic mildly on Thursday had become the fourth sold out gig on the tour (following Manchester, Kendal and Newcastle)! Wow! Blackpool. You know how to keep me on my toes.

In the afternoon I became a feral poet with Joy France. We danced around the Comedy Carpet talking to strangers about poetry and performing pieces to them. I wore a pink wig as a disguise and to give me confidence and also so members of the public could tell I was a “poet” and might talk to them so they could make a wide diversion if they didn’t want me to.

Steve Gunnar Stroud: Kicked the event off with style. His poem Blackpool Transport Anthesis was at speed and he was masterful with rhythm and language. He talked of “chewing-gum constellations” and “using bass as a weapon to kill the gods of oppression, riding a slow pulsation all the way to gate-crash heaven … and reside in the colliding tides of everything.”

Reuben Woolley: I told us of “deep music” and ended a complex poem with the line: “I’m just dancing”. He took is somewhere serious and held us with powerful words: “We feed the screams of all the silent children.”. Then performed a lighter poem to finish including the line: “The growing is music and the dying is laughter.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrFiKB4suXs

Christopher James Heyworth: I loved the salamander poem. The line “Loneliness in crowded places is a seaside specialty” rang so true and has stayed with me.http://livepoetry.org/dates-venues/

Laura Alice Nation: 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”.

Joy France: I always enjoy the Bic pen one and the audience were well up for it. She treated us to a penny arcade one: “when pennies were big enough to matter” “whispered wish-words” and the “Fruitless!”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqIKk6hDjjc


The Blackpool audience were well up-for-it and you could tell by the second half that some of the performers were possibly pushing some of their safer stuff to the back and taking risks. The audience were respectful and quiet when needed and loud and raucous as they felt the poetry deserved. Tonnes of fun!

Shaun Brookes: Listed the places someone was to him “You are Lancaster, Hebden Bridge, etc…”.This litany was strong and pulled us in.

David Riley: In his painting poem: “the furniture is made of lines, gestures, like my hands.” In a family history poem he is: “Knitting together her history – backwards”. Beautiful and visual.

Lara Clayton: The poem about her aunt was haunting. In Fortune’s kippers “the scent becomes our compass” echoing the scent of the sea and navigation.

Big Charlie Poet: I drank in the stillness of the audience listening for the “The little flat with rescued clocks – sound of childhood.” He performed a poem called it’s the grit that makes the pearl that was a masterpiece. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKuD1CfyasQ

Colin Davies: I felt the sharing of our masturbation poems added to the raucousness of the second half!?! He says poetry is the new Rock and Roll! “SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SHOUT VERY LOUD. and sometimes you have to whisper”. “they listen to the whispers of the economy, rather than the shouts of those on their knees.” https://www.youtube.com/user/Wordrabbit

Otley (the otter mascot) is very proud of his new rainbow scarf (presented by Joy France), but he says he is happy to share it with other mascots. We had our own illuminations a few days early as Joy has contacts, she wouldn’t tell us more than this and they were magically lit for the end of the event!

A poem about Poulton Clouds written on the train back

You offer me a thousand silver linings
watery truths
vapour promises
fleeting lies

You are cotton-wool
divided by nimble fingers,
Torn and ragged.

Your poise,
your tiny movements
as you pull yourself apart
to change my view

I rearrange my thoughts,
laced with vapour,
the light touch of the cirrus,
a cumulus bulk.

I can’t touch you
I can’t hold you
Yet you are part of me.

Charvas, The Crown Posada, a conversation with a buttercup and smoke-soaked poetry

Jibba Jabba: Thanks so much for letting me use the space and the night and silencing Jenni for a couple of hours.

Ettrick Scott’s love poem to dry shampoo is genius. Ettrick owned the stage and usually performs as one half of PiPE RiOT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EeI-z8tr8o

Sky Hawkins: I don’t often laugh out loud at poetry. Sky, gladly, caught me off-guard a couple of times. That is craft. I loved her piece to the charva and especially the response piece to the hippie. Her domestic abuse series is taking shape and is stunning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OeGAVjBI98

Scott Tyrrell: “Fortune’s pervert” was hilarious. http://www.applesandsnakes.org.uk/page/84/Performance+poets/287#-biography

Alix Alixandra: her gentle lyricism and mandolin-playing were a perfect way to finish the night after Ettrick’s total owning of the stage she managed it in a more subtle, gentle, but just as total way. https://www.facebook.com/alixalixandramusic

Steve Urwin: I loved the way he had taken the “in my box” type poem and added all kinds of abstract things and mixed them with the everyday and the “clutter hidden behind a screen/leaving silent space/in which to dream.” http://www.applesandsnakes.org/page/84/Poets/424

Chrissie Petrie: Chrissie offered us dirty pantomime or death, then told us we were getting death! Yey! for the pony that didn’t die in 1914, but probably has since! (Chrissie’s aside). Audience participation for a sausages/war poem. A first for the tour. http://chrissiepetrie.wordpress.com/

Jenni Pascoe: let me take over Jibba Jabba and locked away her non-quiet style for one night (only to explode at the end). What control! I loved her line about “magicians or children lacking an understanding of consequences”. The sadness of “fingers that had never held pencils” holding guns with skill. Then the seamless change in tone for the Real Noah to leave us on a less solemn note. http://applesandsnakesblog.org/blog/tag/jenni-pascoe

Harry Gallagher: I was struck by how honest and raw “This is how I fell…” poem was and his volume poem was well-realised and disturbing.

Valerie Laws:Valerie’s pathology poems were detailed and well-crafted. Love the five-year old’s question “Will she be stuffed and displayed in a glass case”!. She treated us to a ‘first lines of jokes’ poem. “Celebrating small penises” went down well, not sure what that says about the audience.

Sally Evans: Sally conversed with a buttercup. In a later poem: “the audience walks away after Carol-Ann Duffy and doesn’t come back”. A feeling well-recognised by any poet who has performed more than a dozen times.

Other highlights of my first visit to Newcastle:

Thanks to Sky, I now know what a “charva” is and (thanks to Ettrick) how to spell it
Was great to hang out with Alix and Jon after. We ran flat-out for a tram (in insuitable shoes – Leeds, I blame you!) and waited for a taxi with me. That was the most amusing bit of the night to me as we swapped lines from films and speculated about the two guys staring at us (as we stared at them) plotting our deaths! I hope to make it back Newcastle way soon.

The Quayside Seaside, after a swift pint in The Crown Posada I would highly recommend it. I am always surprised by ale prices outside Manchester (or Chorlton).
I then met up with a dozen performers, “52” poets and others in The Cluny where we sampled pie and pints. Was excellent to meet so many people I have built virtual relationships with in the reality and find them very like I’d have expected from their poems.

A horribly smoky B+B resulted in this poem:

Weaving a home

Your house was spun
from cigarette swirls,
angry words
and a lack of nourishment
that reeked of stale bacon.

We rebelled in the smallest ways:
left the school-gate
evading dinner-lady gaze
to watch INXS videos
and weave teenage laughter into the foundations.

Next: Blackpool 22nd August. The Imperial.

Emergency Shoe Shopping, Mangoes and Superman – Leeds blog

Emergency shoe shopping, Mangoes and Superman (Leeds blog)

First of all, Seven Arts is a cracking venue. Secondly, I arrived in Leeds at 3pm and had to go shoe shopping. I knew I’d forgotten something and after visiting 6 shops I found some suitable size 6 ½ wide-fit vaguely ladylike shoes. I didn’t cry. I always cry when I go shoe-shopping. Maybe next time I should go to a different city to buy shoes. The distraction of being lost makes the experience more bearable.

The traffic around Leeds was awful in every direction. This meant I arrived at the venue two hours before the doors opened. I had a lemon chicken breast burger and a pint of local ale. The leisurely (for me) start to the evening was appreciated and it was enjoyable to greet people as they arrived and ask people where they heard about the event. I thought working the door (as part of being host would not work, but maybe it is a good way of getting information back from people (without having to force everyone to fill in a questionnaire at the end when they are often rushing to catch bus/train/drive home).

The traffic issues meant a rush on the door at the time we were due to start. We started ten minutes later, but made this back by the break, as everyone stuck perfectly to the ten minute time slots. Consummate professionals.


Mike Barlow: Drove the “Starship Mazda” into “the beauty of peaty fog.” His “Four houses” poem has stuck with me – “the walls hung with mayhem”.

Caleb Parkin: I loved “The Ballad Morris Omies” and the details about the Polari Mission (a mission to save a bold and secret language). Oh and “Let us honour the Hangover Pig Angel”. http://skylabstories.net/about/

Emma Decent: Gave us “Advice from a Stone on traveling alone.” The line that has stuck with me even now is: “Your centre will hold you.” Good advice for life really.

Martin Vosper: Amused us with his Leeds prayer and “Superman writes poetry” – especially “allowing himself a little laugh”, “lingering over his lycra” and a “frisson of a fetish shared”. “The Ballad of Grayson Perry” is always a pleasure. No website details.

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.” Also the “instruments were anything we can reach to hit” – to me this sounds much like a three-year old in any superstore. http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/ian-duhig

Bob Harding-Jones: Amused us with his “Imperfectionist” poem and ”Badminton of illnesses”. http://www.bobjones.co.uk/

Rommi Smith along with Laura Cole on keyboard provided the first poetry with musical accompaniment of the tour. “Gloria Silver” washed over me. http://www.rommi-smith.co.uk/

Mabh Savage: Performed a Volume piece written for the tour which included the lines: “Traps for hopes and dreams turned down to low” and “Silence is a gift you give yourself.” The last line rings particularly true to me as a Mum. http://soundsoftime.wordpress.com/

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”, “ill-conceived judgements scribbled in the margins.” http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/steveoconnor

John Siddique: talked to us about how the poems choose the poet. 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.


I will end with a celebration of the Yorkshire rainbow.

Revel under a Yorkshire rainbow.





Their rainbows always find me

The Manchester rainbow knows my haunts
hides from me
behind clouds
folds itself into wheelie bins
when it hears my footsteps

Yorkshire rainbows
don’t know the rhythm of my breath
my steady step
and the routine of my days

I surprise Yorkshire rainbows
into being more vibrant
having three more bands
than the ordinary type

Bat Applicants at Blackburne House Cafe – Quiet Compere Liverpool Review

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.

First half:

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.

Second Half:

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


That Accent

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.