Goodness knows I’m staying away from prose

20 Apr

The last event in my excursion to Cheltenham Festival of Literature event was Poetry and all that Jazz, Slak Bar, night time.

After Mab Jones’ collective came five poetic performers. In the end, I sat on a bar stool in Slak for over five hours. Not good for the back but sure beats a night in with the TV, especially as mine doesn’t work.

With just fifteen minutes warning, apparently, from the organiser, Pink Sniper warmed us up with a consummately delivered story of the effects of the Western world’s Arab policy.

Next on, Joy-Amy Wigman was concerned that her poetry would be frivolous in comparison to the weightier topics of the evening. Of course, poems of sex, love and death are in good company. And anyone who name-checks Dr Who girl Amy Pond as a source of bi-sexual longings and then delivers a storming song pleading ‘I didn’t mean to kill you’ to an unrequited love is alright in my book. In the words of the next poet on stage: ‘X Factor – suck on that!’

Trevor Meaney revealed that he’d got this gig by stalking the festival’s chief exec, Anna Saunders. Hurray for his persistence! As well as the crazy observations of train journeys, the fuel crisis and marijuana usage, he paused proceedings to lead us in a post-little-boys’-room heckle of the headline act, Martin Daws. My fave was the Frustrated Potential Poet. Oh the joys of being told you aren’t a poet because you haven’t been in this magazine or won that award, but knowing, nevertheless, you are a poet through to your bones: ‘I’m always doing poetry – even when I’m not….Goodness knows I’m staying away from prose.’

Polish poet Bodan Pixi- sorry Bohdan Piasecki described some of his delights – hearing promoters mispronounce his name, and the Polish ‘showing British people what it feels like to be colonised.’ His amusing conversation between poems acted as a light relief to his serious but beautiful compositions. Such as Explosions: he hoped the people killed heard the music in the blast before meeting their maker. A futile attempt to find meaning in a pointless final act. No mention of politics or innocent people. Well that’s how I understood it.  When I Was Seven looked at his child self’s take on religious belief whilst Memento tackled the legacy of his uncle’s kidnap and murder, aged sixteen. Absorbing.

Martin Daws mixed music (performing on kalimba and with a double bassist) and spoken word to create poetic theatre. He documented his escape from the nice but cultural desert of Surrey, to London and a 1980s career as a vinyl record importer: a ginger afro-sporting white boy hoofing his stock through the ‘hoods of Chicago courtesy of his airline employee father’s free flight pass. We did a bit of audience participation in Sounds of the Day, using something we’d heard during the day to perform when he gave us the wink (mine was a clap of applause). He told us: “There is no silence. Only the inability to listen.”

I loved this event: I met lovely people, heard brilliant poetry well performed, in a venue with erotic lighting.

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One Response to “Goodness knows I’m staying away from prose”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chickens win the 16th Swindon Slam! « Festival Chronicle - 13th May 2012

    […] the end, Stroud poet Candy Cruncher (a rename for Pink Sniper, last seen by me at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, I’m guessing a nod to the chocolate Marcus throws at the participants after their heat) beat […]

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