Poetry & Pints, The Globe Public House – The Ludlow Festival Fringe

Jack Edwards “Rock Star”

The Ludlow Festival is a well established affair. This year a fringe has been established which included a poetry day on the Saturday boasting a day long range of events from readings and workshops, through to the highlight, Poetry and Pints, at the Globe public house in the evening. A large open sided gazebo had been erected to keep the anticipated mid- summer sun off the backs of poets, some who had travelled some considerable distance to attend a combination of open mic, and the debut performance of The Olympians by Bridgnorth Writers. The big travelling contingent of poets bore testimony to Deborah Alma’s poetic pulling power. Local author Mike Sergeant kept proceedings on the move as MC, Anita Bigsby, Festival organiser watched anxiously as her fledgling coming together unfolded.

Ludlow is a beautiful, historic market town, the Globe pub, old and oozing character, a fitting setting for poetry. Staging poetry on a Saturday night has rewards and risks. The reward is that it gives the event prominence and a large casual crowd. The risk is that if you do not engage with the casuals , a boozy Saturday crowd can be difficult to tame. Fortunately, Wolverhampton based poet Jane James, who opened proceedings, is a seasoned accomplished performer who delivered an accessible, crowd pleasing sequence, which set the tone, and standard for the evening.

Much Wenlock is only twenty two miles away and is the ideological birthplace of the modern Olympics. In this year of the London Olympics it was fitting that the local Bridgnorth Writers should compose a piece to celebrate the coming together of the past and present. Dave Bingham, Paul and Linda Francis entitled it The Olympians and traced the history of the modern Olympic movement from its local roots in poetry and prose. Well written, and well presented, it contained many memorable vignettes of fact and incident. However they may well have been better advised to have split the lengthy performance in two, in order that the interest of the casuals could have been better retained.

Performing open mic at an occasion like this is no easy task. The performer has no idea in advance of the size, age and social profile of the audience ,or the physical format of the seating arrangements. Here the audience was split. Under the gazebo, the predominantly older ,poetic cognoscenti gathered. In the rest of the beer garden the, predominantly younger, casuals gathered. The deal is simple. If you engage the casuals, they settle and listen, if you don’t, they chatter and drink beer, loudly. Most poets succeeded in the former.

Jack Edwards charmed with his youthful effervescence, Sam Hunt landed two knock-out blows, then retired, Adrian Perks espoused the joys of women’s clothes ,whilst Janet Smith demonstrated that it is possible to perform fine, serious poetry to a mixed crowd, and carry them, if you keep it tight and direct, and always have one eye on audience response.

Three performers deserve special mention. Deborah Alma had not intended to read, but with the event due to start , and several performers still en route, found herself reading anyway. Absurdly self –deprecating in manner, she was a delight. At the evening’s end, Gareth Owen bravely closed the show as the rain beat down (of which more shortly). A very good poet, he eschewed vanity and performed a short pithy set in a triumph of professionalism and common sense. I look forwards to hearing him again in less pressing circumstances. Those pressing circumstances? The penultimate poet was Liz Lefroy a local poetic luminary, and someone who is always worth listening to. However this time she performed accompanied. Accompanied by driving rain. At first the patter of rain on canvas has a hypnotic seductive quality. However when rivulets of water periodically cascade onto lighting cables, sockets and amplification equipment, the concept of an electrifying performance transforms from the metaphorical ,to the potential for actual! Somehow Liz carried on wonderfully with defiant insouciance to the risk of blackout and explosion. She is definitely someone to have around in a crisis. Her opening poem? Pretending the Weather.

Liz Lefroy defies the elements

Not that the wet and risk of electrocution in any way spoiled the event. The rain did not dampen spirits, and a spot of danger is essential to good poetry. All concerned are to be congratulated on a successful and well attended occasion which hopefully will provide the basis for future poetry at the Fringe Festival.

Photographs by Deborah Alma

Gary Longden 24/6/12

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5 Responses to Poetry & Pints, The Globe Public House – The Ludlow Festival Fringe

  1. The whole evening was most enjoyable but what Gary won’t include in an otherwise faultless review was his own contribution (beyond a slightly blurry photograph). His performance was, as usual, dry (unilke the weather) and eloquent, and had the “older, poetic cognescenti” and the younger, casual observers both applauding his skill and nodding in recognition at his keen observation.

  2. Paul Francis says:

    Excellent account – gives a really good sense of the evening. I’m sure you’re right about splitting Olympians, but it was only when we saw the rain, the marquee and the crowd that we knew it would be like that, and it was hard to get a handle on who was fixing the programme. But we’ll know next time. Many thanks, Paul.

    • garylongden says:

      Thank you Paul.I intended no criticism. Us lesser performers had the advantage of being able to shuffle our material once we saw the physical set up of the audience, our time slot, and the weather. I am acutely aware that with a substantial pre-prepared piece that was a luxury you did not have. You should approach Emma Purshouse to perform that at Bilston Voices, it would go down well, and the only thing wet is the licensing!

  3. Anita Bigsby says:

    Thank you Gary, that’s a really nice review. I didn’t have anything to guage it by, never having been to any poetry events before, but all in all and despite the rain, it does seem to have been a success. So glad you all came and sorry about the occassionally rowdy locals but I suppose it is a good indication of how engaging the performance is and to be honest I was well impressed that the young bods stayed nearly the whole evening. I feel quite inspired to write some poetry now for an excuse to read at the next poetry event!! Thanks again. ps. I will post some photographs for you on facebook.

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