Method

This post might at first seem to have a rather explicit agenda – to persuade you to come and see my play – but actually I just want to write a little something about it (sadly, Facebook is where the aggressive self-promotion happens at the moment!). Although of course I’d be delighted if you did come and see it.

Method is my second full-length play, although it’s the first to be properly produced. And it’s also the first play I’ve ever directed. Putting it on, therefore, has been a fantastic and challenging exercise in many respects, but one that I have absolutely relished. I’m wary of speaking too soon, as I know how much hard work the next few days require (we open on Friday 6th December!) and how much could go wrong in the short time we have, but so far it has been nothing but a pleasure. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a very talented and committed cast of 8, and alongside an extremely hard working and equally talented creative team. Special kudos must go to producer Elisha Owen, and to filmmaker Paul McHale, whose skills I could wax lyrical about for hours (and have done to many friends already!). But instead of doing that, I think I’d rather show you this trailer, so you can see for yourself:

Method is a play about blindness, both literal and figurative, and concepts of performance, in life and in art. I first conceived of it in Spring 2012, wrote Act 1 in Scotland in October 2012, and finally finished Act 2 in July this year (having taken a necessary sabbatical in order to focus on the small matter of my degree!). I then tweaked it over the summer, following a read-through of the first draft with some superb and willing actor-friends, before starting rehearsals in October. So it’s been a long time coming, and I am a different writer now to the one I was when I sat down to pen (read: type) the first scene almost 18 months ago. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the script. I absolutely am, and I’m even prouder of what we have done with it. The play involves a lot of digital theatre elements, principally the film projections, and about this I am particularly excited. The potential for interaction between live and recorded performance has always interested me (indeed, it’s something I intend to explore even further in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family) and Method is my first foray in to this area. Whether it works will become clear as the week plays itself out, or perhaps it will never become clear, but either way I think the production will contribute something new and important to the University of Birmingham’s theatrical landscape. Fingers crossed.

Oh, so you are interested in coming to see it? Well, you should’ve said sooner! Tickets can be reserved by writing on the wall of the Facebook event, or, if you’re not the Facebook-ing type, by emailing Elisha Owen on mselishaowen@gmail.com

Method runs 6th – 8th December 2013 in the Amos Room at University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students. Tickets are £4 Watch This members, £5 concessions, £7 standard.

When Margaret Thatcher Died During A Poem: Spoken Word Paris, and other news

It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. It wasn’t in the middle of a poem, and it wasn’t my poem. But it is nonetheless true that I learnt of Thatcher’s death when someone dedicated their performance to the late Iron Lady at Spoken Word Paris. There was a brief pause in proceedings while I shouted WHAT THE FUCK?! NO WAY! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! followed by my laughing uncomfortably – a mixture of disbelief at the news, and embarrassment at having shouted WHAT THE FUCK?! NO WAY! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! into a stranger’s face in a place I have never been – and was dutifully informed by everyone in attendance, their glee tangibly enhanced by my nationality, that yes, the bucket had indeed been kicked.

Well, I picked my jaw out of my pint of wine, and we cracked on. Spoken Word Paris is a weekly open-mic night at Au Chat Noir, a busy – and lovely – bar in the east of the city. From conversations I had with Dareka Daremo and other Parisian poets I met and befriended during the week, there aren’t the huge number of poetry nights that a city the size of Paris should boast. Perhaps this is why Spoken Word Paris is flourishing; turning the basement underneath the bar into a throbbing, sweaty haven for poets, story-writers, musicians and comedians; packing the place out entirely, with a bouncer (Gabriel, himself an excellent poet, sporting intimidating biceps) to keep people from causing a crush or disturbing performers during poems; filling three-halves (I know, it’s three-thirds, but that doesn’t sound as impressive as it needs to!); and all this happens every Monday night.

Listening at Au Chat Noir

Listening at Au Chat Noir

There’s a theme, and the one for 8th April was Swedish Girls, which struck me as bizarrely specific, following on from Cliches and preceding Consequences, Strangeness, Guilty Pleasures and Danger, not to mention decidedly more sexist. I don’t have a “Swedish Girls” poem (I have decided, I’m not sure on exactly what grounds, that this is to my credit!) so I was frantically racking my brains for ways to contrive and manipulate an existing piece to fit the Scandinavian Young Women bent. I decided that the easiest thing to do was to make the long-distance relationship in Disaster Sex into an even longer-distance one, because the poem is rife with innuendo, and Paris would like that.

Thankfully, however, a group of female Swedish singers (and one young Swedish man playing an upside-down waste paper basket) came to my rescue, when they performed a rendition of Robyn’s song Call Your Girlfriend. She is, they told us, tongues firmly in their cheeks, what every

Swedish Drummer Boy in "Call Your Girlfriend"

Swedish Drummer Boy in “Call Your Girlfriend”

Swedish girl should be: feminist and vegan. Satisfied that the evening’s (hopefully accidental) misogynistic undercurrents had been challenged and mocked, I sat back to enjoy the harmonies. But the ‘girls’ were not done yet. Halfway through the song, what felt like the majority of the crowded room rose to join them – all Swedish Girls, all sticking it to the (non-Swedish) Man. Well done.

I was happy that I could get away with saying that I once dated someone from Stockholm called Maggie and leave my theme-related introductory quips at that, I stood up just before midnight and read to the most receptive audience I’ve ever had. Thank you Paris.

Other performers I really enjoyed included the aforementioned comic bouncer poet man dude, Gabriel, eloquent Americans Alex Manthei

Alex Manthei at Spoken Word Paris

Alex Manthei at Spoken Word Paris

and Max, a man whose name escapes me but he has a beautiful poem called Film (I think) which deserves mentioning,

Max at Spoken Word Paris

Max at Spoken Word Paris

hip-hop legend Bruce Sherfield, whose incredibly soulful rap music (his band is called Versus) I would later

Bruce Sherfield at Spoken Word Paris

Bruce Sherfield at Spoken Word Paris

enjoy at a rainy gig in La Defense on my last night (listen to this), a super irreverent compere in Alberto, and my home-girl poetry pals Elisha Owen

Liz Greenfield at Spoken Word Paris

Liz Greenfield at Spoken Word Paris

and Liz Greenfield; the former my travel companion and the latter Paris’s most recent poetry acquisition: Liz was British-based until last month and we gigged together in Plymouth as recently as late March, just 5 days before she moved! Look after her. Thank you Paris.

Spoken Word Paris is such an international experience. And it would be a shame if its success is only down to the sparsity of performance opportunities in the city, but I have a feeling it’s not. There were poems in Russian, English, French, Portuguese, and a song in Swahili. Writers from all corners of the earth live and work in Paris, and the flow of people passing through is constant and enormous, so there will always be upstarts (like me!) looking for a chance (any chance!) to say their words to people, even on a six day pre-exam holiday.

Ben Norris at Spoken Word Paris

Ben Norris at Spoken Word Paris

Thank you Paris. I’m hoping to come back. Dareka Daremo has invited me to perform at his Downtown Slam, so if we manage to sort out the details then I will see you soon. This is an appropriate place to offer thanks to Dareka, who entertained us with a fascinating poetry and interpretive dance collaboration on Saturday 6th April, then took us under his wing all evening…a wing which was heading straight for a Sangria-saturated cave near Notre Dame. We were destined to be friends.

In other news, my Speakers’ Corner version of Dismembered Voices was announced as the winner of Litro TV’s Transgression Competition. I even recorded a silly little intro video. Please don’t laugh. Actually, no, laugh a lot, or both my camera-woman/director and I will look even more stupid! It’s all on the link. Alternatively, if you just want the winning entry, here it is:

VoiceBox Radio & Grizzly Pear

Two very exciting events happened over two very exciting consecutive days:

Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to be invited on to VoiceBox, a spoken-word radio show on Burn FM, hosted by Elisha Owen and James Dolton, who, unlike Troy McClure, you may actually recognise from previous poetry posts. I was one of two guests alongside James Grady, a fantastic musician and comic performance poet. VoiceBox has hit upon a great structure, and Tuesday’s edition took in live and studio-recorded spoken-word tracks, live performances from Mr. Grady and I, some on-the-spot writing, and a fantastic debate spawned by their ‘contentious question’ of the week, which this time concerned the benefit(s) of slam poetry to the wider scene: a particularly relevant one considering my last post!

You can listen to both last week’s show, and the first edition which featured Jenna Clake and Mark Watson, on the VoiceBox SoundCloud page.

The following day saw the first 2012-13 instalment of the formerly low-key Writers’ Bloc open-mic night, now re-branded, re-booted and re-kicked up the proverbial arse as Grizzly Pear, with a swanky logo (well, a logo), and a pro head-liner for each event. I’ve been thinking up and organising this night for quite some time, so I was a little nervous and frantic as kick-off approached. But cometh the hour, cometh the silly fluorescent braces, and everything went swimmingly. On the night, I likened the experience to watching a child who you’ve raised and trained compete at sports day, the result of which is totally beyond your control. But in truth I was very much in a position to mess things up, as compere/host! I could’ve inadvertently poisoned Clayton Blizzard with an underdone Mexican Burger (before the Bristol Pear mobilises its lawyers, I’d like to say that the burger was fine), I could’ve killed someone with a loose electrical cable, I could’ve mispronounced a poet’s name, or done a (further) disservice to the Eminem song I was already bastardising! But, alas, the evening was a roaring success – described by one review as “dynamic, varied and thoroughly entertaining” – and I was genuinely overwhelmed by the positive responses from the audience during and after the event. Bristol-based folk-rapper Clayton Blizzard rounded off one of the most consistently high standard open-mics I’ve ever seen with a brilliant, humorous and profound set.

I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone that came and supported the event, from legends of Writers’ Bloc’s recent history (Sean Colletti) to legends of the academic Creative Writing circuit (Luke Kennard); from legends of the Birmingham spoken-word scene (Lorna Meehan) to legends of the current Writers’ Bloc cohort (too many to name). You know who you are, and so do I, plus where you live, more to the point. Joking aside, it was enthusing to see so many more unfamiliar faces than familiar ones at Wednesday’s event, which suggests that the poetry and spoken-word community might actually be expanding as quickly as I hope it is, to include people other than my immediate friends and course tutors!

I’ll see you at the next one, won’t I? Good. It features the apparently-unbeatable UK-wide Slam Champion Vanessa Kisuule, and it’s happening on Thursday 25th January. Whack it in your diary. Not write. I said whack.

Cheltenham All-Stars & “Slapathy”

Brace yourselves for cynicism:

I am bored of slam.

Not forever, irretrievably consigned to the land of slam apathy (or Slapathy), but temporarily fatigued by it. Not by the concept either. The concept is a great one, if a little tricky for new-comers to grasp. “How can you objectively rank poetry?” they cry, incredulous. The point is, you can’t. Of course, there is a difference between good and bad poetry, but it isn’t a discreet and explicit system. And that’s why slam is essentially a gimmick. The gimmick works and is wonderful and fun when: a)  the slam poets involved are good, b) the audience are knowledgeable, c) the judges are experienced and professional, and d) the judging method is tried and tested. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Often a judging system has to figure itself out in the course of a slam, which gives rise to the infamous phenomenon that is ‘score creep’, where poems towards the end of a slam are given increasingly higher scores, almost completely regardless of how good they are. If the judges are not pre-appointed, but instead plucked from the audience (as with Saturday’s All-Star Slam at Cheltenham Literary Festival) then not only does ‘score creep’ occur, but so do all sorts of other injustices. If the plucked-at-random judges are experienced poetry connoisseurs then this isn’t such a big issue, but they invariably aren’t, so poems can appear strikingly original when they are in fact shameless and bastardised rip-offs. Comic poetry, for example, always scores highest on the ‘audience reaction’ side of the marking because it is one of the few styles that produces an audible response. People don’t often make a sound beyond emitting a tiny sigh or shedding a silent tear when a poem is profoundly moving or devastating them. There is nothing wrong with comic poetry. Doing it well is bloody hard, and it is in no way inferior to a “serious” poem (when done well). Done badly, however, and I think it tells of artistic and/or performance insecurity. It is a cheap way to notch up those fickle points, and to protect yourself from the vulnerability that comes with offering a good, genuine poem (comic or serious). In fact, the best comic poems are ultimately serious, and the best serious poems have moments of very necessary comedy. Like the jesters in Shakespeare’s plays, if you will. In fact, the best performance poetry is often inseparable into categories as crude as this: just as the standard of poems isn’t discreet, neither is genre.

This is what I mean by a seamless fusion of humour and integrity. Some jokes (or indeed one juicy extended comic metaphor), yes, but some purpose beyond the jokes, please! My poem of the day was “Body” by Thommie Gillow, which unfortunately isn’t on YouTube, so here is a video of her performing “A Poem About a Shoe.” You’ll see what I mean:

Audience response also generally increases if a poet raises their hand to their ear in a faux-rock-star fashion and/or jumps on and/or off the stage, in a similarly foppish way. If this is one part of a brilliant poem, in which the writing has been prioritised and the physical action and performance only serve to enhance the experience of the words themselves, then great. Sadly not, in most cases. Like last Saturday.

Now, this is all very well, but I’m only saying all this because I was unceremoniously dumped out in the first round of Saturday’s Slam, right? Well, not really, no. Naturally I was disappointed not to progress any further, but not because I wanted to win; simply because I enjoy performing poetry and entertaining people. But even had I marched triumphantly through to the final, there were plenty of worthy poets, like Thommie, who did not. My problem with the almost randomised way in which the scores, and thus the participants in the next round, are determined is that it deprives audiences of genuinely great art in favour of direction-less rants (it is offensively easy to bash MPs/bankers/”chavs”/police/any-other-group-the-media-tells-us-we-should-aim-our-one-dimensional-polarised-hatred-towards in an uninformed, frankly arrogant tirade, that can only be called ‘poetry’ in the loosest possible way because it lazily employs childish end-stopped rhyme). The concept of a slam – “competitive poetry” – is an enticing one, and it gets the audiences in. That’s the point. But to keep the audiences, I’m sure they need more than the aforementioned slush. Performance poetry as a whole genre stands to benefit from people won over when attending slams (which are only a tiny fragment of the performance poetry scene) so I think slams, their organisers/judges, etc., have a responsibility to the spoken-word community and their audiences to give them the best stuff.

Team slams, on the other hand, are a little different, as every poet performs a pre-designated number of times, irrespective of standard, and audiences get to see a representative fragment of their work and judge for themselves. Which means that, even if some gross scoring injustice(s) occur(s), they can make up their own minds as to what they liked and what they didn’t, and not be deprived of what they liked in rounds 2 or 3, and so on. This didn’t stop the Student Writers’ Performance Challenge at Birmingham Book Festival from being a little personally disappointing, as one of the judges made a very pointed comment about all-singing all-dancing poems that where relatively content-less, which can only have been a reference to the team made up of James Dolton, Elisha Owen and myself, but that’s by-the-by: the concept itself is probably a more full-proof one. Re: that specific judge, for my own self-respect, I wish to add that if she’d like to read any of my poems on the page to scan for content/meaning/purpose, then I’ll happily send her some.

And just a brief disclaimer before we all move on…I had a nice day on Saturday in Cheltenham, and the Monday evening before that at Bacchus Bar, Birmingham. Sara-Jane Arbury and Marcus Moore are lovely, friendly people, and magnificent hosts, and my lamentations are much broader than their slick and fun Spiel Unlimited slams.

And breathe. Phew. Sorry about that.

Here’s a picture from Saturday’s All-Star Qualifiers of me in a funny hat, to clear the air. (N.B. the hat is NOT an implicit admission of deficiencies in writing or performance technique. It’s just a funny hat. Promise.)

Cookie Monster writes the poems, I just read ’em. Like Ratatouille, I guess?

New Spoken-Word Show on Burn FM, plus other new dates

A quick post to tell ya’ll about VoiceBox, an exciting new spoken-word show that begins this Tuesday on Burn FM, the University of Birmingham’s student radio station. It’s on from 9-10pm. Hosted by James Dolton and Elisha Owen, two of the most beloved rising stars of the West Midland’s spoken-word scene, each week the show will feature one guest from within the University, and one from the wider scene. This Tuesday they’re kicking things off in fine style with James Grady and Bohdan Piasecki, respectively the University’s and West Midland’s most irreverent word-smith and most popular promoter. Bohdan‘s monthly Hit The Ode is one of the region’s highest quality performance poetry nights. Week 2 features Jenna Clake, an excellent page poet who made her performance debut at Word-Up recently, a new(ish) night run by the show’s other guest; Mark Watson. Definitely worth a listen. I’ll be on the show on Week 3 (23rd October), alongside a leviathan of the British poetry world, or so rumour has it… More details when I have them!

In other, more immediate news, tonight I’m appearing with James and Elisha at Birmingham Book Festival‘s Student Writers’ Challenge. It’s at the Bacchus Bar in the Burlington Arcade in the city centre from 7:30pm and should be a great gig. On Saturday, one of the country’s biggest slams is taking place in Cheltenham as part of the Cheltenham Literary Festival. I haven’t actually qualified yet, but whether or not I make the final is almost immaterial, as the night is guaranteed to be a stonker (a positive stonker!). It again features James, as well as Lorna Meehan, who are great friends as well as great poets, plus the rest of the star-studded line-up (another way of saying I don’t know who’s in it yet!). The audience for the final will exceed 350, so is essentially the Champions League of British Slam Poetry. I can’t wait!

For details of when where how (to book) who why (you know why), etc. see the Live Dates page.

Word-Up and Bristol Poetry Festival

This is just a quick note about 2 very exciting, and very different, gigs I did recently.

The first was Word-Up, a relatively new night at the charming 6/8 Kafe in the centre of Birmingham (incidentally, the home of the best hot chocolate in the West Midlands, no lie). This was the fourth edition of the monthly open-mic evening run by Mark Watson and Ro Caldwell, who have been kind enough to continually invite me to read there throughout the summer. Festival after festival after festival after insert-other-commitment-here always seemed to get in the way, but on Friday 21st Sept. I was finally free. The downstairs basement space they use is somehow simultaneously both barren and industrial, and homely, and rather suited the eclectic mix of performers on show. Personal favourites were James Dolton, Jenna Clake (whose spoken-word debut was bewitching and marks her out as one to watch) and Elisha Owen, plus some hilarious guitar-accompanied satire from Joe Sale. All of these guys are on Twitter and elsewhere online, and are well worth your time. Unbeknownst to me, I’d been given the final slot of the night so ended up serving as a kind of accidental head-liner  This was a fantastic experience, and I really felt at home with my own poems (including the awkward bits in between), in front of a very generous audience.

Sunday 30th Sept. saw me make my Apples & Snakes debut proper (discounting the innumerable times I’ve annoyed the Hit The Ode audience on the open-mic!). I was the West Midlands contingent in the Next Generation Slam at the Arnolfini in Bristol. I was delighted when I found out about this gig, and wasn’t disappointed when it came round, as it was without doubt the highest quality poetry slam I’ve ever been in (in terms of the poetry at least, and not necessarily the seamlessness of the score-keeping! Thankfully the poetry is what matters).

Although I’ve seen them read before, it was the first time I’ve seen Vanessa KisuuleHarry Baker and Jack Dean in a slam. Sunday was a great day generally, as (alongside finishing 19th and 1st U23 in Bristol Half Marathon that morning) I, and the rest of the A&S team, had a performance workshop prior to the gig with Anna Freeman, whose set at Shambala was a festival highlight. Meeting the other A&S poets, only one of which I’d previously heard of (I’m ashamed to say) was also fantastic, and although we’d workshopped earlier in the day, hearing the work a second time with the brakes off was bloody brilliant. Hats off to Indigo WilliamsRowan McCabeBen Lawrence, and Carrie Wilde. In all honesty I did not expect to beat an all-star Bristol team containing the respective World, European and UK festival-wide slam champions mentioned above, as well as the talents of Lydia Beardmore and Emma Ward, both of whom featured in the 3-strong Brizzle team who won silver at Jack’s UK Slam Champs in June. But beat them we did! And after several slightly shambolic recounts, I was also awarded joint bronze with Lydia! Indigo duly took the individual win (she was great) but I’d also like to show my particular appreciation for Vanessa (whose opening 4-minute-long poem served as something of a fuck-you to the whole slam conceit anyway!), Rowan (whose dulcet Geordie accent did nothing but make beautiful words beautiful-er) and Jack.

Mr. Dean’s second offering was definitely my poem of the night. I’m told that there’s a recording of Sunday’s slam, but since I don’t have it yet, you’ll have to make do with this video of him @ Farrago:

Indigo Williams

 

Poly-vocal Playground

Given that I discovered the joys of spoken-word only relatively recently, and am still very much finding my feet in the West Midlands scene, it shouldn’t surprise me that I’m constantly discovering more and more things you can do with it. The latest find in my gold-panning exploits is probably the most game-changing so far, and has really opened my eyes to the medium’s potential for versatility: namely, poly-vocal poetry.

Several posts ago I mentioned that I’d successfully auditioned for the city of Birmingham team for the inaugural National Team Poetry Slam Championships (a catchy name!), and May’s edition of Hit The Ode (31/5/12) marked our debut performance. This was by no means a last dress-rehearsal (the Champs are not for another 4 weeks) but more a playground for us to try out various ideas and make changes based on audience response. By changes, I mostly mean cuts, as we need to lose about 30 seconds to make the slam-standard 3 minute mark, but also to see if our contrapuntal weaving actually works. Okay, so I’ve just seen the footage and we need to lose 90 seconds (gulp!).

Rehema Njambi, Hannah-Rose Owen-Wright and I each have very different voices. Rehema was born in Kenya and grew up in Kent, producing a lovely kind of soft musicality, her inner Kenyan becoming more prominent when she reads poetry. Hannah is from New Zealand but has English parents (notably, a Brummie mum and a sister who now lives here, in Balsall Heath). In N.Z. they say she sounds English, though to most English ears she will doubtless sound distinctly Kiwi. And, despite being the most conventionally “local” of the 3 of us (just up the M42 in Nottingham), my accent has somehow become a hybrid bastardisation of north Notts and Sheffield (someone at Hit The Ode asked if I was from Sheff.) with select Mancunian vowel sounds (think Elbow’s Guy Garvey: “LUHV, TRUHST, DUHST). I don’t know how this has happened; both my parents are from the South (my dad’s a Londoner, mum’s from Oxford). All I can think of is that my granddad was from Manchester, though sadly our lives didn’t overlap as much as they might have done so I’d be amazed if he is responsible for how I speak. More likely, and much less sentimentally familial, is the influence of my peers at school, and probably a desperate need to sound nothing like my folks!

Our Championships poem has thus ended up being largely about heritage, exploring how we sound, how we feel, and how the three of us have wound up representing a city that none of us are from! I’d like to tell you more, show you the video of the Hit The Ode performance even, but that would be to spoil the surprise for the Bristol audience, and the other teams. Bristol and London’s teams have already started wheeling out the fiercely competitive scaremongering propaganda, and the Twitpic banter is in full flow!

We performed again five days later at Rhymes in Kings Heath, formerly a monthly event back for a one-off poly-vocal special, run by our team “coach” Lorna Meehan, a fantastic performance poet, actress and comedian in her own right. With no rehearsal (save for the last-minute car park run-through we managed to squeeze in at the interval) between Hit The Ode and Rhymes, the performance was clunkier, slower, and (because we were performing with mics for the first time) punctuated by an embarrassing boom-stand incident which saw my mic fall from its clip and hang limply around my shins for a few painfully long and silent seconds! But the evening was by no means disastrous. We performed our individual poems too; Hannah experimenting with a different combination of existing work, and Rehema taking my breath away with a remarkably honest poem about her younger brother. I premièred a new piece too, “F-Bomb”, which went down pretty well, though it will also need serious reductions to hit 3 minutes! Again, a video of this will not be forthcoming till after the Champs, so get down to Bristol. If not for this reason, I still really recommend a trip to the South-West on June 28th to see some of the best individual slam poets flex their figurative muscles, as well as the highlight: pioneering poly-vocal pieces.

This is the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/397372280304723/, and here’s the place you actually do the actual buying of the actual tickets: http://bierkellertheatre.fatsoma.com/events/63235/

And…here’s a mysteriously effective trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9uxH1UG0tY&list=UUJdSS9jwAUskX-oPi56ACXg&index=1&feature=plcp

Hit The Ode and Rhymes were personally exciting for another reason, too. Elisha Owen and I wrote and performed a duet (is it pretentious to use the word duet in terms of poetry? Yep, probably, but I’ve gone and done it anyway) after seeing the exciting German pair Le Poonie at Hit The Ode in April. It came from some small sketches I’d made which tried to incorporate clicking into a performance piece, and it turned into something much bigger and more exciting, with a story, some comedy, and some pathos too, I hope. It went down a storm (as much as anything can go down a storm in a small room upstairs in a West Midlands pub) and we performed it again at Rhymes to a more intimate but equally receptive audience. Rhymes was also the first time my mum has ever seen me perform poetry, which was nicely surreal – I hope she enjoyed it!

Both the duet with Elisha and the team poem were mentioned in Gary Longden’s review of the evening: http://garylongden.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/rhymes-poly-vocal-special-station-ph-kings-heath/, and Elisha has also bashed out a fascinating blog post about her submergence in the performance poetry world too, infinitely more succinct than this one: http://www.thelostartofenjoyinglife.blogspot.co.uk/

The potential for drama is inherent in poly-vocal pieces. It allows for the creation of characters and scenes between them; for dialogue, tension and conflict – immediately more vivid and distinct than with any individual stuff…directionless rambling monologues therefore refreshingly avoidable. It creates textures and patterns, and allows for greater extremes of volume, pitch and intensity to be traversed. And the best of it adheres to the Slam practice of no props, no costume, no backing tracks…it remains exclusively about the words, only here the things you can do with them are brimming with myriad possibilities.

All in all, it’s a bit bloomin’ excitin’.