Double Bill and Kei Miller at Poetry Swindon Festival

2 Oct

Double Bill, probably the most confusing title ever. But still an awesome night.

On the surface it was a double bill of two poets, Andy Jackson and Kei Miller. Except Double Bill was the name of Andy’s bit; Kei’s was completely different. And Andy’s Double Bill had about ten poets reading which makes it, what, Tenfold Bill? Sounds like a bank note.

I know, I’m being facetious. Don’t shout at the screen. Double Bill is an old filmic reference. Double Bill was a roll call of aging popular culture, not necessarily loving tributes – this is a poetry night after all. Anyone under the age of thirty without a proper grounding in TV may well have been lost. But, for me, it worked like a top class open mic, the ‘rat pack of the poetry world’ as Andy Jackson described it.

Taken from an anthology of the same name and receiving plaudits from Clive James no less, pop culture was the loose theme that held the event – and poets – together. Ones that stuck in my brain included Andy Jackson’s Clangers poem (referencing the recently revived kids’s programme), whistled beautifully in Clang; Kevin Cadwalender’s join-along Eric and Ernie, Michael Scott’s PG Tips; Cathy Bryant’s Domestos and a phrase from Sally Evans’ Closedown – ‘doom pundits’.

Then followed Forward Prize winner Kei Miller, beautifully remembering and reading from collections A Light Song of Light and The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion. At one point – after lots of poetry ‘humms’, claps and nods of approval – he told us, ‘You’re being incredibly kind.’ An audience member muttered behind me, ‘You’re being incredibly good.’

I can’t remember an audience applauding a poet until their hands ring but it happened for Kei. Poetry Swindon’s George Moorhead was less host, more fanboy, introducing the TS Elliot prize judge by saying his bedroom cupboard concealed a Kei Miller poem stuck on the inside of the door.

I think we were all fanboys and girls by the end.

  There should be a song
  for the man whose life has not been the stuff of ballads
  but has lived each day in incredible and untrumpeted ways.
  There should be a song for my father.

From Unsung, from collection A Light Song of Light

Double Bill and Kei Miller performed as part of Poetry Swindon Festival at Savernake Community Hall, 2 October 2015.

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