Rhymes, previously a worthy and popular regular event on the Brum poetry circuit, now appears occasionally under the curatorship of poetry svengali Lorna Meehan and is as special in its irregular form as it was when it ran regularly. Tonight it was back for a welcome one-off poly-vocal special, featuring an eclectic mix of poets, but with an added element of group poetry, including the National Team Poetry Slams Birmingham team before they compete in Bristol on the 28th June. Past Birmingham Poet Laureate Spoz hosted the night, current Birmingham Poet Laureate Jan Watts graced the evening with some well chosen poetic contributions ,and of course Lorna could not stop performing the odd poetic gem herself, but the focus of the evening was on emerging talent, and rightly so.
Kate Walton is making rapid progress since I first saw her perform a few months ago at Poetry Bites. She has been hitting the circuit with enthusiasm, and learning fast. She performed three extended, quite different pieces ;a humorous tale of grim deeds in Melton Mowbray, a dark serious tragedy of joyriding ,and a light engaging account of when she met Carly Simon. She has the ability of a storyteller to hold an audience during an extended poem with rhymes that chime rather than grate. A warm personality and strong material will make her a formidable force on the slam circuit, and beyond, in the near future.
Elisha Owen gave a confident and exact performance of Flamenco Dance in Peckham before being joined by Ben Norris for a very clever duet using clicking fingers to replicate everything from time to drips. A duet presentation was used again when Claire Corfield joined forces with Lorna Meehan for a very funny comedy sketch in verse about Spain. Both are accomplished actresses, poets and comediennes, all three skills were utilised to fine effect. The Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate Laura Deadicoat was on hand to give what must be one of her final performances in office. Unsurprisingly her stagecraft has matured over the year and she performed three favourites to an appreciative crowd. From a distance I saw a poet on the cusp, performing good material written as a school student, but bursting to emulate the development that the university undergraduate sourced slam team had on show.
The Birmingham Slam Team performed individually, and collectively, with Ben Norris excelling with F-Bomb which I suspect will become a signature poem for him. Ostensibly inspired by the silent displeasure of a Much Wenlock poetry audience who did not care much for profanity, like all good poems it quickly broadened to say much more . He did so with wit and depth. Hannah Owen – Wright took us on a surreal trip on a bus in which it became a capsule, and a destination which I suspect was not on the authorised route. Completing the team trio was Rehema Njambi who offered a wholly different more personal and soulful dimension to the group, epitomised by her piece about her younger brother, emotionally honest, but never maudlin. They finished by performing their collective poly-vocal slam entry as a trio which spoke wonderfully of intergalactic time travel and impressed me, without me being entirely sure what it was all about!
Jan Watts spoke generously of the calibre of the talent which performed on the night. It was no platitude. Each slam poet boasted talent and identity, and inspired me with their brio and innovation. Good luck in Bristol!
Gary Longden 5/6/12