Word Wizards

Grove Hotel, Buxton

This was my first visit to Word Wizards and a post August bank holiday date seemed the perfect time to visit this Peak District event in a most picturesque setting .

The Grove Hotel itself is some 240 years old, starting life as a Coffee House, before expanding as a coaching inn for Manchester travellers. Unusually, this is run as a monthly slam, with prize.

Although the mechanics can vary dependent upon numbers , the objective is to have rounds containing as many as possible, thereby retaining performers for multiple readings, whilst maintaining a competitive element. The spectacular scenery to be enjoyed during any direction of approach to Buxton will always offer a spur to the spirits of any poet as they prepare their evening’s work.

The room itself is first floor, and private, with the hotel’s bar and food amenities close by. Compere Rob Stevens, and his wife Lesley, are convivial hosts for a relaxed and friendly evening which tonight comprised some five rounds, with the cumulative scores of each round determining the winner. This had a pleasingly egalitarian effect, as it ensured that everything did not hang on the first round, affording poets more choice and variety in their selections.

The poetry was diverse, entertaining, and thoughtful. Gary Carr is wisely persisting with I the Broken, a clever page poem in four parts which grows with each performance, whilst his DJ piece offers broad appeal for anyone conversant with the jealous paranoia of those whom man the decks.

From Lichfield Poets, Janet Jenkins offered a strong combination of work resulting in a third placed finish. The Tale of the Teeth ,about some errant false gnashers always entertains, Set Me Free , was a poignant mother and daughter coming of age piece. Anyone who includes the tongue twister “sarcococca” in their performance has to be admired.


Jack Regan is probably tired of references to his namesake on the Sweeney, but I shall try his patience further. His contributions were robust, tough and with a sprinkling of that trademark humour, never more so than with “Hey JC” a hugely enjoyable offering about the Creators failure to ensure that he was born a rock star. David Barrow entertained with some introspective work and the knockabout Rubadubdub, David Siddon reminded us of the Werewolves that lurk around Millersdale.

Host Rob Stevens, who finished the evening with a second placed finish combined oiling the wheels of the evening, amusing all with his wit, with some excellent poetic contributions. Six O’Clock News was particularly strong examining the peculiar juxtaposition and relative importance placed on various news stories.

The “hurricane that barely was” in America playing against the mayhem is Lbya was a point well made. Yet he also takes in the surreal, I’ve killed the Cat and Stuck it in the Wind Chimes, the political “Scab” and the domestic implications of when a grown up child flies the nest.

The generosity of the judges resulted in me scoring the highest points for an evening which was well organised and professionally presented complete with promotional banners, branded bookstand and on-table klaxons available for the audience to increase their demonstrations of enthusiasm for proceedings. Word Wizards runs monthly, on the last Tuesday, with a 7.30pm start. 30-08-11.

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