This was the last Shindig of 2011,and served as a launch for Hearing Voices Vol 4 ,the house magazine of co-promoters Crystal Clear Creators. I have had the pleasure of attending each event this year and it goes from strength to strength. Very well attended, it is defined by the quality of the floor readers as much as the headliners. Normally the floor readers are in awe of the headliners, here the headliners exchange anxious glances as the rest perform! The standard is further enhanced by the device of a two minute curfew for the floor, which was uniformly and courteously observed. This has the effect of ratcheting up the standard still higher, as hugely talented individuals offer up only their best work.
It is rare indeed for performers to eschew the need to offer translations of Latin, yet instead to worry as to whether others will correct their Latin pronunciation. At Shindig that is the way it is. This unashamed pitch at excellence works well, bringing out the best in everyone. For it is about excellence, not elitism, with young students and the less experienced encouraged and welcomed.
The first half was promoted by Nine Arches Press with Matt Nunn overseeing proceedings. First headliner was Mal Dewhirst, of Polesworth Poets and Fizz fame, who covered much poetic ground in his set. He name-checked the Pitmen Poets, and Alfred Williams, the Hammerman (Railway) poet, whilst sharing with us an innovative layer poem based around an archaeological dig which can be discovered, and read, different ways depending upon which layer you approach it from- innovative stuff. Mal has a strong sense of place in his work which physically manifests itself in the Polesworth Poetry Trail in which he has been so dynamically involved and from which he read Kites.
Closing the first half was Nine Arches press Editor Jane Commane who clearly relished the chance to perform her own work for a change rather than sorting out the work of others. She has a pleasing light touch with her poetry of the everyday , whether it be music, road by-pass protestors or gasbagging.
The second half was lead by Crystal Clear Creators impresario Jonathon Taylor who also performed a poem of his own, Neutron Star, which I found quite profound. His first headliner was Charles Lauder Jnr, from San Antonio ,Texas by birth, but now resident in Leicestershire by choice. I enjoyed him very much. His languid drawl from the Deep South complimented his writing perfectly. He also offered my favourite poem of the evening about the Stone Circles of Keswick, and the legend that they are wizards turned to stone for some transgression by the gods. Whether it was the simple pleasures of Coffee ,or the more demanding task of Finding Time about Einstein’s Theory of relativity, Charles was a stimulating and entertaining reader.
The closing headliner was Wayne Burrows, a distinguished literary figure ; editor, reviewer, poet and lecturer. In addition to bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mani, of Primal Scream and Stone Roses fame, he was also brimful with ideas. The music connection must have influenced him subliminally, for he visited translations of 1960’s pop songs performed by young Czech and Polish girls even though he speaks no Czech or Polish………. Great fun, and very entertaining. I have never thought of doing a poetic sequence on Apples, but Wayne has, which was lyrical and pastoral, his sonnet sequence on impending economic doom was atmospheric and portentous.
Doing justice to the floor readers for the night would be impossible, such were the riches on offer , so I shall not attempt it. Instead I give mention to two performances which delighted me .Mark Goodwin’s poetic account of climbing Cader Idris with his two year old daughter on his back, and the balance that was required to execute the task, was as beautiful and breathtaking as the views there. Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s two poems from The Ladies of Harris’s List, an 18th century guide to whores evoked a wonderful sense of time and place as well as being exquisitely written.
Shindig will be unwrapping its presents in December so next meets on Mon 30th Jan, 2012. Hearing Voices Vol 4 is available from Crystal Clear Creators, and myself.