The last in this year’s series of Spoken Worlds went out on a high tonight with a guest poet, a luxury not normally indulged in, Ash Dickinson playing to a full house. It was a fitting climax to a year of hard work by organiser Gary Carr who has successfully moved venues during the year, losing few, and adding several to his core audience. These are the unsung heroes of the regional poetry circuit, blagging rooms, providing PA systems, preparing, producing and distributing promotional material, and constantly having to nurture attendances, cosseting their existing audience, while winning new ones – all on pretty much no money.
Gary opened proceedings by remembering the recently deceased poet Peter Reading who died on 17th November. Reading was an English poet and the author of 26 collections of poetry, known for his choice of ugly subject matter, and use of classical metre. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry describes his verse as “strongly anti-romantic, disenchanted and usually satirical”.] Interviewed by Robert Potts, reading described his own work as a combination of “painstaking care” and “misanthropy”. It was an inspired gesture by Gary to read three Reading compositions in tribute.
Ash Dickinson himself was excellent. Friendly, unassuming, playing in low-key surroundings for him, he gave 100% in a charismatic, humorous and self –effacing performance. He started by telling us that he was going to combine stand-up, theatre and rap mash-up as the thinking man’s Axel Rose, and he was true to his word. The best performance poets transcend genres and are simply good in their own right, that is Dickinson’s forte. Two poems, including Chiller Queen amused about the domestic fridge, and he railed about Facebook – despite having no less than three Facebook pages himself! The smell of love was explored with the memorable idea that “beauty is in the nose of the beholder, whilst Temping and abandoned mountain bikes were topics for fine forays into social commentary on the absurdities of occasional work and youth unemployment respectively.
Two poems stood head and shoulders above the rest for me. The first was a witty, but coruscating and affectionate tirade against he excesses of modern day football, a subject incredibly difficult t handle well, but which Ash made look easy. The second was the very clever Your Stand In, a very sharp take on a clever idea – what it would be like to have our own stand-in / body double. Whilst much of his material was funny and entertaining, this had a dangerous edge to it elevating it as his most satisfying piece of the evening.
As always, a varied and eclectic band of open micers strutted their stuff. In random observation, Ian Ward delivered an accomplished tetractys The Gift and debutante Tom Wyre impressed with Phantasmagorical ( I bet he has some Curved Air albums at home) containing some strong rhyming patterns, but needing just a little editing. Tony Keeton shocked, and delighted, by reading from some newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls (found at a car boot sale) ,and Rob Stevens evoked mass nostalgia by remembering Oliver Postgate, creator of numerous childrens stories including Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, Pogles Wood an Noggin te Nog.
The Old Cottage Tavern plays host to a comedy verse night on Fri 9th Dec, Spoken Worlds reconvenes on Fri 27/1, Buxton Word Wizzards meets at the Grove Hotel Buxton on 27/12, all at 7.30pm.