Lunchtime Poetry with Write Down Speak Up, Ort cafe, Moseley Rd, Balsall Heath

The following poem is one I wrote on the day and is featured as the introductory voice-over.

Ort cafe

Where ink once mixed in chemical alchemy
Folk and ideas now flow
They come and go
In babbling chatter
Of this and that
Of what does and doesn’t matter

Some talk of Plato
Others of Descartes
Or come just to think
But not of ink, anymore

To pontificate, about who or what they rated
Whilst hunger and thirst are satisfyingly sated
Did the Sexy Weirdos live up to their name last night?
Was Johnny Kowalski a bit of alright?

Or did he pass beyond vanishing point?

The Ort cafe is part of the Old Print Works occupying a space previously given over to ink mixing. The building includes 30+ business units for skilled professionals creating fine crafted goods, open access workshop and performance spaces, the cafe itself, a massive gallery hall for exhibitions and community events, as well as a Skills Shed for after school training, apprenticeships and practical hands-on learning sessions for young people. Local older volunteers are encouraged to exchange their skills with others. This innovative development is taking place at the old factory of a successful printing company, which stands almost opposite the historic swimming baths. A major focus of The Old Print Works is preserving and celebrating its history whilst demonstrating that old buildings can be rehabilitated through intermediate technologies for low-carbon and sustainable use.

This one off event was a poetry first at a cafe that has only been open since November but which is awash with innovation and activity. Write down Speak Up is Birmingham’s leading poetry collective and arrived to bring a suitably innovative event comprising performances from the three visiting poets, and take audio visual recordings of audience contributions to the Big Brum Poem, a compilation of community offerings from across the city being displayed on Victoria Square’s Big Screen throughout the year. Poet and national and Regional DJ Charlie Jordan tantalised by imagining various market foods as parts of the male body, Kurly McGeachie made everyone Smile as the pro-poets set the mood.

A very good turn-out elicited contributions from established poetic talents like Elizabeth Charis, Lizzy Piphany, Shabz Ahmed and Chris Akers – as well as several exciting new ones including saxophonist Jo from up and coming local band “The Heels.” The pro poets inspired, and the enthusiastic audience followed. A steady stream of latent poetic talent declared itself as the afternoon unfolded including Mums whose rhyming skills had been reawakened by reciting nursery rhymes and lapsed or hidden talent that had simply not had the opportunity to have a go previously. Keep an eye open on the Big Screen for when the Ort Cafe and its audience and their contributions are featured.

The cafe itself is an excellent venue for poetry and co-owners, and philosophy graduates, Richi, Josephine and Noemi are keen for it to be used more widely as such. An incredibly diverse bill of events which takes in maths classes, language coaching, theatre, philosophy, film, sewing and a Swap Shop provides a bohemian arty audience and ambience well suited to things poetic. Add freshly cooked and baked food and a range of reasonably priced drinks and you have a resipe for success.

For future events Ort Cafe has its own and is on Facebook under Ort Cafe and The Old Print Works.
Gary Longden 11/2/12

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