After two happy years at The Spark Cafe in Lichfield “Poetry Alight” found itself having to find a new home for 2014. A change in the Cafe’s opening hours, and its repositioning in the evening for Bistro business, meant that an association which had benefitted both parties when the Spark opened, now no longer suited . I will always be grateful to Sejal and Della, the owners of The Spark, for their support when they opened their business, and wish them well for the future.
Fortunately, The Kings Head, Bird St, Lichfield, found the prospect of fifty or so thirsty and hungry poets an attractive proposition, and made their first floor function room available to us, an arrangement which had several advantages. Firstly the room is self contained and private, affording performers ,and audience, a performance which is uninterrupted. Secondly, normal licensing hours mean that there is plenty of time to eat and drink before and after the poetry, with no onerous time pressure on the event.
Moving poetry venues always comes with a risk. Will the audience follow? Will there be any hidden gremlins? Will the venue be friendly? Fortunately my fears proved groundless as a full house assembled for a top poetic bill.
The formula at Poetry Alight has been consistent. Put on a free event. Drag in the best poets in the region to perform to a new audience, around three or four headliners, then offer three minute open mic slots to the floor, offering emerging performers the chance to perform in the same space as the stars. I always ensure there is a male/female balance, and wherever possible, that ethnic, gender and physical diversity is championed.
Poetry Alight kicked off 2014 in style with past National Director of Poetry Day, and current National Canal Poet Laureate, Jo Bell, and multi published poet Matt Merritt sharing the top billing. An audience member whispered in my ear that she could not believe that she had listened to Jo Bell on radio 4, and now she was listening to her in Lichfield, whilst Matt regaled us with poems of elephants in the room, droll, intelligent and engaging.
A standing room only crowd gratefully bought books, a modest material thank you to Jo and Matt who gave their time so generously. Support headliner was Michelle Crosbie, a glamorous, emotional, flamboyant and compelling performer, as yet unpublished, who seized her chance to impress in some style.
Poetry Alight is next lit on Tues May 13th, then again on July 8th, 2014. At the Kings Head, Bird St, Lichfield, first floor function room, 7.30pm start, sign up on the night for open mic slots.