Friday, May 26, 2006

Readings in Bolton and Manchester

Two events this week of note. On Sunday 21st May, the monthly Write Out Loud versefest at The Howcroft in Bolton was again an excellent mix of everything that is good about poetry: with some key figures unable to attend but some new faces in their place, the evening was briskly compered by Dave Morgan.

From JMU Liverpool, Rachel Adamson and Elaine Wilson graced the event, promoting issue 4 of ‘In The Red’ and selling quite a few copies on the night. They read some of their fine work from the magazine. The regulars themselves were in fine form. This must be one of the most talented groups in the country, spanning maybe three generations and covering a vast range of poetry from rap to classically inspired verse.

On Thursday 25th , a substantial contingent of Writeoutlouders took the train from Bolton to the Urbis cafĂ© in Manchester for a citizen 32 event. I felt there were some technical difficulties with this gig. Long narrow bars with the mic at one end don’t seem to work too well. However, the sound was fairly well controlled by DJs Neither-Nor. The organisation of the night was a bit awry.

My own view is that you should not put a headliner on as a compere: the two don’t work together. You need a compere who will keep things moving along briskly, who gets poets’ names right, and who keeps out the way for most of the evening. At first I was puzzled as to why Nathan Jones was reading so much when he was compering, but then I realised that he was billed on the front of the programme as one of the three featured poets. Whilst his poems are resounding, effective and dramatic, and he is a good poet of that type, he should leave compering to someone else with a less serendipitous approach to the job. Maybe it wasn’t his idea. It’s not rocket science to get people’s names right which he didn’t on too many occasions.

The other two billed stars were Segun Lee-French and Mike Garry. Unfortunately, more than half the audience (i.e. the Bolton bards) missed Mike Garry as we had to catch the last train. Segun Lee-French did a good job of singing, reciting and acting the roles in his work. A competent performer. The open-mic slots were equally well-filled, mostly by Writeoutlouders but with some excellent Manc talent too. Two other poets I had not heard before but hope to hear again were Felix and Aftab Ahmed, both of whom displayed exceptional skill. As we’d missed some of our slots because of the train, we had an impromptu reading on wheels on the way home with poetry from Dave, Julian and myself. Poets I haven’t mentioned here also did a good job though I had heard some do the same stuff before. Still, it beats the T.V. where there's been nothing on since 'The Impressionists'.

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