Spoken Worlds, Old Cottage Tavern, Byrkely St, Burton Upon Trent

This monthly event continues to prosper with a committed core of supporters who never fail to produce an evening of high quality and entertaining poetry in a relaxed and supportive environment. By chance, several poets chose to dip into their back catalogues for this night’s readings which served as a timely reminder of the depth of material which several poets possessed. Many poets feel compelled to continue to produce new work because poetry can be a short form, yet revisiting old and sometimes forgotten work can also be rewarding.

Andy Biddulph had been absent for a few months as his time has been diverted helping to fight a legal battle to defend the right of free navigation on some of Britain’s waterways, a right currently under threat. Traditionally, Andy’s work tends to triumph the trials, tribulations , and triumphs of the common man. However he opened with a surreal piece, loosely themed on endeavour, Solo to Summit, boasting an extended psychedelic prose introduction which Robert Calvert and Hawkwind would have been proud of. Intriguing and other worldly.

In a similarly esoteric vein Tony Keeton decided to name check the ancient question of: “how many angels can dance on the point of a needle?” Dorothy L Sayers concluded that an infinity of angels can be located on the head of a pin, since they do not occupy any space there. Tony took on Sayers and Thomas Aquinas – and won, with his super poem Instructions to Angels. I always enjoy Tony’s readings because whatever subject he decides to tackle, he does so with freshness and brio.

Sometimes familiar faces can surprise. Dea Costelloe invariably produces high quality mainstream poetry delivered with the assurance of a BBC newsreader. Tonight, she travelled from the West End of Shepherds Bush, to the East End of Albert Square and Bow Bells, with her wonderful homily to cockney rhyming slam Slanging It. Dedicated to her father who was a lighterman on the Thames, it was funny, fond and clever as she became Barbera Windsor with a twinkle in her eye, some sauce on her tongue and a wholly convincing cockney accent.

On Tuesday 22nd, Margaret Torr is headlining at Fizz in Polesworth so this was a bit of a warm up appearance. She chose to read a hugely inventive piece in Viking saga style using four letter words. Not only was it a fascinating device, but Margaret also used her storytelling voice to conjure a musical, insistent rhythm to her tale. Brave in conception, successful in execution.

As the 1970’s entered its second half, Punk Rock blazed into the cultural arena laying waste the lazy artistic thinking which dominated ,and clearing space for much fine music which was to follow. But it is seldom remembered that whilst the Sex Pistols and the Stranglers were outraging the nation on the front pages it was the Bee Gees and their disco classic Saturday Night Fever who were dominating the singles and album charts. Mal Dewhirst memorably reprised both aspects of the era with Outside Barbarellas and Before the Locarno. It was a wistful reminder of a time when music by Chic and The Clash sat side by side in my record collection.

Tom Wyre has been working hard on the performance circuit and it is paying dividends. His trademark is to cram rhymes and alliteration into his poems to bursting point, he is often at his best when drawing upon reflections from his time on the road, Cellophane Man and Joe Hamster being good examples. On a night in which everyone seemed to be trying something different, Janet Jenkins read a very strong prose piece Disturbing the Contents and the versatile Rob Stevens veered from the Queen to paying off his mortgage , whilst host Gary Carr revisited his excellent poems inspired by the Pooley Poetry trail as well as hosting the evening with his customary skill.

Spoken Worlds next meets at the Old Cottage Tavern at 7.30pm, on Friday 15th June, free admission.
Gary Longden 19/5/12

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