Exposing yourself

7 Oct
Little Usherette

Little Usherette

So I had a quick nap in Hilda’s Lounge, as you do, then back to the tent-palace, as you do. But this is Poetry Swindon Festival and things can get way more surreal.

Jill Abram and Jinny Fisher were the warm up acts for an ‘industrial strength poetry evening’, according to host Cristina who tripled up as heckler and cheerleader.

Cristina told Kim Moore, joint poet-in-resident, to read the one about the scaffolder. This one is a ‘psalm’ to her dad as it turned out. Her one about the Trumpet Teacher’s Curse (she’s just quit after 13 years to do a Phd) made me laugh and nod as she listed her primary school students’ crimes against brass instruments and the subsequent list of things to inflict on them, such as practicing for hours without improvement, then perform at an empty bandstand in the cold and rain. Kim told us she read it to her mum, a shoe factory worker, who said, ‘that was my life for years’. It took a moment for the inference to ripple to the back, but I laughed right away having a mum who sometimes failed to plaster a smile to her face during school concerts (and being a mum myself).

Kim told us the one about ‘My People’ which, each time, she has to check the room for her people before she reads. And then delivered a sucker punch in the one about the taxi driver who brings out the pacifier-of-men in her. The others were humorous honesty but this one was raw and fully exposed. It won its own round of applause.

Cristina said the other half of the double bill, Michael Scott, is better than psychotropic drugs. ‘If you think it’s going over your head,’ she said, ‘it probably is.’

About half way through, Michael pulled out a miniature usherette to sit on the podium. She likes to watch. He asked us to imagine Margaret Thatcher. Someone heckled ‘maggots’. Michael set clearer parameters: ‘in a tank on Salisbury plane.’ Little Usherette is his era-striding planet-tall diminutive persona. With her he takes on metaphors then swerves them away before meaning is captured.

As Michael took to the podium, he said, ‘I feel like I should expose myself.’ And that’s what poetry is about.

Kim Moore and Michael Scott read at Poetry Swindon Festival 6 October 2016, at the Richard Jefferies Museum Tent-Palace of the Delicious Air. Hilda’s Lounge is a 1970’s themed room upstairs in the museum.

Chronicle written by Louisa Davison

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