I had heard about this event for some months but not had the opportunity to catch it. I was curious for two reasons. Firstly, I always like attending new poetry evenings so that I can learn how o improve my own event Poetry Alight in Lichfield, secondly, hitherto Cannock has not been a hotbed of poetry.
With my partner visiting her mother’s, I had a spare night so pitched up on the spur of the moment, only to discover fellow event frontman Rick Sanders cruising the streets to find the venue too. Together we succeeded, and upon entering there was another event organiser, Steve Pottinger propping up the bar along with Lichfield’s Poetry for the People organisers Emily Gavin and Phil Knight.
MC for the night is the irrepressible Charlotte Postings. I lift this excerpt from in house magazine 24 Housing about her:
Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL) resident Charlotte Postings, 22, had a prior love of writing, but had yet to explore poetry when she first arrived at its Avalon House service 17 months ago.
Staff at the service, which supports people with mental health needs, encouraged Charlotte to develop her love of poems, which she acquired through a local support group, and to host her own poetry nights.
Her first night, which was held in March at Caffe Del Nino, hosted 14 performers, with a second in April attracting 17 people reading. The events are open to everyone and have attracted artists from a wide range of backgrounds, including several from the LGBT community and one with cerebral palsy.
Charlotte said: “My poetry and spoken word nights are for anyone and everyone who wants to come and freely express themselves, but I did not foresee how popular they would be – the venue was full to the brim with people.”
What defines this evening, and makes it different, is the frequency of the breaks. There are no headliners, and poets are asked to read no more than four poems for no more than ten minutes. I am pleased to say that all poets displayed commendable restraint, with the vast majority reading for three or four minutes. Every quarter an hour or so there was a break in open micers, music came on with a commendably hip playlist, and there was plenty of opportunity for poets to chat, socialise and network, and for the bar to take more money.
Generally, I liked the frequency of the breaks, it gave us all a chance to reflect on what we had heard, a criticism though, was that towards the end, it meant that the evening lost a little momentum.
Phil Knight gave the best performance I have heard from him, joined by Emily Galvin. Rebecca Lockwood was my surprise “find” with a set of unassuming excellence. An oddity was a member of the bar staff ( I did not catch his name) who delivered a poignant prose piece about a fatal confrontation with the Taliban. The content was excellent, with editing, it would be outstanding. Someone find him, and help him.
A great addition to the poetry circuit. I was delighted to see not only a strong thirty plus turn out, but also a large number ( the majority) of young men and women under thirty years of age of commendably different perspectives, experiences, and voices.
The facebook page for the event giving details of future events is here: