Spoken Worlds, Old Cottage Tavern, Burton Upon Trent

Poetry can be about pretty much anything, and so this evening proved, with subject matter confined only by the imagination of the poets. When most people see a post box they think of letters, bills they have forgotten to pay or birthday cards which must be purchased and sent. Teenage children might see it as a useful confined space to place an ignited firework . A poet sees beyond this though.

Stephanie Lunn has weightier matters on her mind, such as the problems of posting desserts – trifles, custard, that sort of thing. And then there is the matter of meat. Neatly sliced ham should be okay, mince less so, the gravy gets everywhere. Finally ,the question of posting beards, particularly when the man (or woman) is attached. Do sheep worry about the existentialist dilemmas explored by Satre and Kierkegaard? Of course they do, and then there are toasters………..Although most of us had not given these matters much thought, Steph has, and the world is a better place for it. Yet she does not simply deal with the surreal, The Camera Man , about a photographer who snatched a shot of a less than happy bride was wonderfully grounded, and resonant.

Andy Biddulph blazed through Economic Stability with a clarity that Greek Finance minister Evangelos Venizolos would have found quite useful ,and explored frontal lobe activity with an enthusiasm which 19th century Psychiatric Surgeons would have found heart-warming. Some poets perfect the art of “less is more”, Bert Flitcroft and Janet Jenkins are two such poets. Bert wrote amusingly about Poetry workshops and the Busy Ones, Janet told of cats, tennis as a metaphor for romance in Forty Love and the aspirations of a want-to –be Heavy Metal singer. Both poets were pithy, economic, and fun.

Light and Darkness is Ian Ward’s current collection, but he also debuted work for future publication exploring lost cities in Mesopotamia, and the withered wychwoods of Alaska before the poignancy of Dear John and the film noir influenced, Just Another Rainy Night. Mal Dewhirst relishes rediscovering lost or forgotten poets, and often rediscovers them at a rate of knots. August Stramm, the German WW1 poet appears to have won him over more compellingly than most however, as he has majored on him several times in recent appearances and has now taken to performing entire poems of Stramm’s in German , as well as in translation. He is right to do so. German war poetry has been all but ignored in this country. The sentiments are universal, the timbre of the words chillingly authentic. Anyone who owns a German first world war uniform must surely expect a call shortly! An intriguing coda to his performance was The Archaeological Strata of Polesworth Abbey, a clever piece on the dig in progress there in which the lines on the page can also be accessed as a dig accesses different layers and truths.

Terri and Ray Jolland entertained with their customary amusing blend of light verse and drama, organiser Gary Carr eased the evening along interspersing introductions with some very strong poems of his own after which we marvelled at how his daughter had survived the mishaps of his parenting! Before the Briefing stood out for me, a wonderful, atmospheric account of the factory floor before the night shift commences. Spoken Worlds plays again on Friday 14th October, and a tip that John Cooper Clarke is playing the Flowerpot PH, Derby on the 21st, a week after.

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