Spoken Worlds, Old Cottage Tavern, Burton upon Trent

Regular poetry events are not easy to sustain. I organised my first event a few weeks ago and was educated in exactly how much hard work goes into making them happen. Those who organise them regularly are heroes, and that includes Gary Carr who promotes Spoken Worlds. A key ingredient is creating something which is unique, which makes you want to attend, and feel that you are missing out if you don’t go. At Spoken Worlds, as well as having “three halves,” that defining characteristic is providing a platform for performers to experiment with new or reworked material.

Steph Knipe from Fradley is a quirky delight who specialises in off-beat poetry about microwave ovens , food sent in the post and wheely bins. Her poems are regularly published. Tonight she sprung a surprise by bringing along her guitar and putting one of her familiar poems, Bovine Ailments , to a folk style accompaniment. It worked very well, providing an extra dimension to what is already a very satisfying piece. I hope that she will feel encouraged to experiment further and try setting more of her work to music. Although the relationship between lyrics for music and poetry is an uneasy one, I think that Steph is on to something here.

Mal Dewhirst is experimenting in a different way by writing fresh contemporaneous lyrical poems themed on Pink Floyd’s The Wall for a summer production in Tamworth Assembly Rooms,Tuesday 5th – Fri 8th Jun from 7:30pm. I have had the pleasure and privilege of hearing this unfold. It is an exciting project with one piece in particular, March of the Worms , capturing the spirit of Roger Waters circa the mid 1970’s, and the zeitgeist of the all pervading dominance of the Internet in the 21st century.

I have become increasingly interested in the link between epic poetry and storytelling in recent months .That link is one that Margaret Torr has also been exploring as she told an extending rhyming story of a monkey and crocodile , it was a bold move, and one which paid handsomely. Ian Ward has been working exceptionally assiduously over the past year putting in the hard yards of performing and testing his poetry at many venues. His latest move has been to create an imaginary village to explore the fantasy world which he loves to create. It is an ideal vehicle for his poetic milieu and one which has considerable potential.

Dwane Reads made his Spoken Worlds debut in confident style. An out-an –out Performance Poet, his material ranged from donkeys on Blackpool Beach to traffic jams on the A50, the latter of which was his best piece. His material had promise, however the delivery was a little strident, the volume stuck on loud. Dwane explained that he was eager to secure new performance slots in his poetic journey, I suspect that as he does so, the light and shade which is required in performance will emerge.

Ray and Terri Jolland performed a very accomplished Shakespeare pastiche, Janet Jenkins orated on a murmuration of starlings, Tom Wyre read from some well worked Mysteries compositions.Rob Stevens not only read well he also finishe the eving with a fine song about the Miners Strike.maybe in the future we will see a collaboration between Steph,Rob and Mal? Spoken Worlds returns on Friday 20th April, 7.30pm start, free admission.

Gary Longden 24/3/12

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