Memoirs

Erdington Library, Birmingham

This evening performance was part of a week -long series of workshops and performances at the library led by Jan Watts. Erdington Library has traditionally been hugely supportive of this type of event and so it was again with a staff who were as helpful and keen to please as ever. Marcus Taylor organised the evening and assembled an impressive array of local talent.

Chris Smith from Sutton Coldfield and Cannon Hill Poets opened the evening followed by Jan Watts herself. Jan took us on a journey including her childhood in Walthamstow, her experience of being closer to ducks from her boat, and her dissolute lifestyle as a lady who lunches.

As always her clarity and freshness of expression shone. “Sunday Express” is a long established open mic poetry event running on the third Sunday of the month at 4pm at the Adam & Eve Digbeth. “Big Bren” Higgins runs it and he brought his rumbustious charm with him whether with the likes of the sharply observed “Ego Trip” or funny, and brief, “Writers Block”. Richard Bruce Clay, a man who never needs a microphone, ripped through poetry inspired by King Lear, “Men are from Venus women are from Mars” excerpts from “Both” and “She’s Alone” and the very funny “Poems are Easy”. Richard runs a spoken word evening at the Hollybush in Cradley Heath on the first Friday of the month.

RARE CHANCE

The second half offered a rare chance to listen to Mal Dewhirst perform an extended set, and hugely enjoyable it was too, probably the best I have ever heard him. “Music & Places” name checked Barberellas in the late 70’s, “Newburn Bridge” a walking holiday in the North East and Liverpool got a mention too.

Although predominantly a serious poet, “The Squatter”, dedicated to his cyber hacker was sharp and “Aspiration Blvd” a marvellous piece of whimsy. Mal runs a poetry evening, “Fizz” at Polesworth Abbey, bi-monthly. Elaine Oakely breezed in, then breezed out again all too briefly before Louis Campbell took the floor. Louis’ appearance was noteworthy for two reasons, firstly he does not run a spoken word event, and secondly he was sans his trademark long leather coat.

What he had brought with him though was his formidable collection of social commentary poetry. ”The Ant that would not Pop” took us back to childhood, “Eyes of a Spider” reminded us of surveillance culture, “Text an Apology” reminded us that saying things in person is always better whilst “Credit” was as searing a condemnation of popular finance as ever.

Before Alan Wales had entertained with a marvellous Welsh pastiche, “Under Deadwood”, Gary Carr was another poet to benefit from the chance to stretch out a bit. Gary runs “Spoken Worlds” on the third Friday evening of every month at the Old Cottage Tavern, Burton upon Trent. “Not Having a Ball” was the story of a young footballer whose career was wrecked through injury, “Without You” was a painfully sharp commentary on relationship breakdown whilst the highlight was a wonderful parody of “My Way”.

Marcus Taylor ensured a brisk pace as compere and read some observational prose on his experiences in New York winding up a fine evening which may become a more regular event. 09-06-11

Gary Longden

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