Parole Parlate will always have a special place in my affections. When I first ventured beyond the Birmingham conurbation poetry scene the organisers were friendly, warm and welcoming, both as an audience member and performer. Two years on that hasn’t changed. I arrived an hour and a quarter early expecting to have a pizza on my own, instead I was greeted with a table full of old friends, and soon to be new ones. It is an ideal setting, the downstairs Italian restaurant so suitable for preprandial chatter with literary minded folk, the upstairs a self contained private area with its own bar and toilets. The bill is always a smorgasbord ( to mix my culinary identities) of literary talent, this evening was no exception.
Lichfield Poet Ian Ward opened proceedings with a gentle, wistful set to ease us out of the summer holidays, neatly rounded off with Perfect Day. Damon Lord of Worcester Writer’s Circle read a very strong Notional Health Service and The Kid which I enjoyed despite the panning which he claimed some had previously given it,sometimes writers need to have the courage of their convictions. Euginia Herlihy‘s thoughtful spiritual poems clearly had substance, which will gain traction as she develops the projection of her delivery.
By contrast Christopher Kingsley was not lacking in projection. He prefaced his set by stressing that he was just starting out, but all the raw ingredients are there for a promising performing career. The material was diverse, humorous and bulging with ideas. Mutt about his inherited dogs, and Talking Balls about bureaucratic nonsense were particularly strong. Straight from the bandit country of South America , Nick “Grizzly Adams” Turner delivered a very powerful prose tale from his adventures there with one of the best opening lines I have heard in a very long time.
Closing the first half was Spoz. Vastly experienced, Spoz knows the performing deal, and it always shows. Take a good idea, engage with the audience, work the idea hard , and the audience well, and then leave them wanting more. It is an effective blueprint. He read just one poem, Without You, performed first in Italian, and then in English, it was a great comic device. In lesser hands rhyming “Nessun Dorma” with “korma”, and “cough” with (David Hassel) “hoff” would be a disaster, in Spoz’s expert hands it is a triumph!
Under the Lone Night , published by Vanguard Press is the current collection by David Johnson whose selections included DNA inspired by the heritage of English Stately homes. David read well and I would like to have heard more.Polly Robinson is a luminary of the Worcester literary community and her writing, whether prose, or poetry, is always worth listening to. Her poem of a tube ride on a sticky day with its onomatopoeia driven structure is very satisfying, whilst Across the Timeless River, “ Five past six, light bright evening across the wrinkled river” does for the River Severn what Waterloo Sunset did for the Thames. Presenting short stories is no easy task. Andrew Owen used an innovative device with A Picture Tells a Thousand Words by bringing a graduation photo of himself, and then telling a story around it. It worked well, as did his Facebook inspired Like Mother like Daughter. Jeremy Holtom finished the section before the headline act with an intriguing extended performance. It was a little like watching footage of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, one minute you were with him, the next you were in another cosmos.
Finally, I was honoured to perform a headline set as one half of The Imperfect Pair, with Amy Rainbow, at which point Polly Robinson reports:
A packed house enjoyed the poetry and prose performed at Parole Parlate with the headline double act from Amy Rainbow and Gary Longden as The Imperfect Pair.. Gary will be writing about everyone else on his blog, but I thought I’d add my two-penn’orth about Amy and Gary ~ if you haven’t yet seen their sparky poetry be sure to catch up with them soon!The brickbats and banter between the two of them had everyone in hysterics, we can all identify with the sentiments that these two practiced poets invoke. Their two central pieces, ‘The man who wears tweed’ from Amy and the riposte, ‘The girl who wore floral prints’ from Gary, were funny, poignant, alliterative and well rhymed.
Parole Parlate next meets on Thurs 4th October at 7.30pm. Polly Robinson blogs at:http://journalread.wordpress.com/
Photographs by kind permission of Geoff Robinson