20th November 2012. Can you remember it?
Christmas hadn’t happened.
The world hadn’t ended yet.
The royal baby was still a royal secret.
It was but a humble Tuesday.
Well, you’d remember it if you went to the inaugural SCRIBBLE KICKS, the first ever Writers’ Bloc event at mac birmingham.
To counterbalance Grizzly Pear, our performance-poetry night at the Bristol Pear, I wanted to put on a page-poetry and prose friendly evening of readings in a relaxed and marginally less-bawdy atmosphere, where the emphasis is entirely on the words. Originally Scribble Kicks wasn’t going to have a headliner (and future events, about which I’m currently in discussions with mac (ding! for pretentious managerial-speak points), probably won’t), but it happened to so neatly coincide with the publication of two excellent collections of contemporary British poetry that it would have been foolish to turn down the opportunity to happily marry the two. Abi Curtis’s The Glass Delusion and Luke Kennard’s A Lost Expression are both published by the Man-Booker shortlisted Salt, and it was a privilege to welcome the authors to the cafe-bar at mac to launch the books and read their new work.
Scribble Kicks is nevertheless still all about supporting new and emerging local writers, so there were plenty of open-mic slots available, which provided a platform for an eclectic and delightful range of readings from Writers’ Bloc regulars, mac‘s own ‘Future Poets,’ undergraduate and MA students at the University of Birmingham, and entirely new faces (to be most encouraged!). I’m very keen to see the event become a place where Birmingham’s writers meet to share work or works-in-progress more formally, drawing on the good work done by Apples and Snakes with their Poets’ Place initiative at Central Library. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next edition, which I’ll write about on here, as well as on the Writers’ Bloc Facebook page and mac Birmingham‘s website. You can follow me on Twitter, and Writers’ Bloc and mac are also on there.
3rd December 2012. Ring any bells?
It won’t for most, but for 12 lucky people, it certainly will! On the last Monday of the autumn term, I organised one of the most last-minute gigs in the history of gigs that anyone has actually called a gig. Not only was it called a gig, however, but it was part of a tour…”Girls on Tour”, to be precise. The girls on said tour included the wonderful Sally Jenkinson, a fine spoken-word performer and big-dog at Wandering Word who I had the all-too-brief pleasure of meeting at the Bristol Poetry Festival in September, Liz Greenfield, another excellent poet, and the extremely talented singer-songwriter Dominie Hooper. Seeing an endearingly ramshackle Facebook event page declaring an endearing vague tour of the north with certain dates yet to be filled, I decided to think like a southerner, declare anything from Rugby upwards the ‘north’ and invite the girls to perform in the Beorma Bar in Birmingham Uni’s Guild of Students. Due to the fact that all this happened about 3 days before the date we hit upon, the audience turn out was small. Did I write 12? ha! Can’t you people spot a comic under-exaggeration? Well, it was 12. But my god it was good. The intimate atmosphere, and the fact that, of those 12, half live in my house, leant the evening a generous cosiness, as if I’d invited the three performers into my front room. Sally was great, at turns deeply personal and hilarious, and it was fantastic to finally see her on stage. Liz’s poems were often bizarre, challenging, terribly unPC (therefore also hilarious!), and somehow managed still to contain pockets of breathtaking imagery and metaphor. And Dominie’s performance was simply gorgeous, both musically and lyrically. Of the modest selection of merchandise available from the girls, our house went home with a copy of Liz’s pamphlet, Nobody’s Uncle, and 2 copies of Dominie’s EP, Run It Over, both of which you should buy, now (links are above). Now.
For all the semi-stressed dashing around, it was unquestionably worth it.
So remember kids; if someone asks to read poetry and play music in your pantry in front of paying audience with 10 minutes notice, say yes instantly.