Hit the Ode
The guest list this week was phenomenal – the event is run by Bodhan Piasecki, who works as the west Midlands Programme Co-ordinator for Apples & Snakes and is a lively. energetic and entertaining host. The formula is 6 open mic spots (usually pre-booked) and then 3 headliners – guest poets, a local, national and international act.
We have poems. Poems which crunch when you bite into them; poems you’ve been meaning to call for ages; poems buzzing like wires strung between pylons.
Good poems. Come and get them.
Winner of the US Slam Poetry Championship and the Canadian Spoken Word Olympics, Koyczan is truly an extraordinary talent that has blown the dust off of the designation “poet”. Engaging and authentic in attitude, Koyczan emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice.
Jasmine Ann Cooray is a poet and spoken word artist and workshop facilitator from London, of British and Sri Lankan heritage. She is known for vivid imagery, attention to detail and storytelling through personal experience. Jasmine has just returned from her stint as International Writer in Residence at The National University of Singapore.
JODI ANN BICKLEY
One of Brum’s best loved authors, poet and best-selling author of One Million Lovely Letters Jodi Ann Bickley returns to Hit the Ode for her very first full set. It’s high time: since her victory at the 2009 Roundhouse slam, Jodi has performed all over the UK, including festivals such as Bestival and Glastonbury. She was a speaker at TEDxBrum in 2013.
Many people wanted the open mic slots for the honour of performing in front of Shane. I asked back in March but was already too late. I was put on the reserve list. I hadn’t given this a thought all day. I got there in time to mingle and chat to poets I haven’t seen in a while and some that were at PFL as well, then took my seat (which was a bit of luck) I think there were 80 people there it was standing room only!
A Surprise Performance!
Bohdan came up and told me there had been a no-show and that he was giving the slot to me. I accepted eagerly and then went into shock! The event was about to start and I hadn’t prepared anything, fortunately in my hurry to leave for the train I had grabbed some extra poems, sorted my PFL poems out on the train, then resorted them at the library – when I arrived I had forgotten what it was I was going to perform!
I frantically looked through and chose 3 suitable poems.
All the open mics were brilliant and I think I was the only one with words on the stage – it made me feel better when all 3 headline acts (including Shane) used screens, books and prompt notes to read some of their sets from. They like me didn’t just stand there and read – it is a glance down for feeder lines performance.
I still like to take a new set to every show – 20+% of the audience has usually been to other events – there are some poems – much as I love them – that I have heard every month so far this year more or less, although this is the done thing professionally – of course it is – who wants to learn 100 poems! I go to so many events that on occasion I have already seen the main act elsewhere, they usually throw in 1 or 2 different poems but the rest of their 20 minutes is the same show. I like to mix it up and because of this still only know a couple by heart!
Despite having the paper (which if you remember I REALLY needed) last time I was lucky enough to perform at Hit the Ode (back in Feb) I lost my focus and the already rehearsed and perfected poems slipped out of my head and I died on stage, had to jump off, empty my bag (literally tipped it upside down) and then jump back on the mic and perform from the page!
This time I performed well and lots of people spoke to me about my poems. One of which I wrote when I was 17. (It was published – I didn’t tell many people that!)
JODI ANN BICKLEY – was brilliant! I hadn’t realised it was her 1st long performance – it was fabulous, funny, heart wrenchingly truthful and we all wanted at least another 20 minutes, she informed us that we wouldn’t want to see her turn, which usually happens around the 4th poem, one to watch out for, she was great!
JASMINE COORAY – Owned the stage, composed and full of life’s experiences she wrote about her life, memories, people and brought them all to life on the stage in front of us. A stunning set and someone I could also have spent the whole night listening to. She was selling some hand-made pamphlets (between publications) and I regret that I didn’t have enough spare cash after the afternoon in Birmingham to buy one.
SHANE KOYCZAN – A M A Z I N G! And lacks ego – the crowd went wild and his 1st words were ‘I didn’t save anyone!’ A true heroes welcome, a true hero, but a humble man. He made me feel like we were right there alongside him, all equal – despite the standing ovation at the end and ENCORE, 2 things I have NEVER witnessed at a poetry night – including Hit the Ode! WOW! EVERYONE! Even the people lucky enough to have chairs! It was a powerful, energetic performance, full of raw emotion, life stories and some jokes about numbers that we will never forget! If there were any men preparing best man speeches in the room then Shane set would be a dream! It is beyond words really! Incredible. Loved it! Go on, go…. You Tube!
After the gig I was able to talk to people again and I went to meet Shane who performed an amazingly, open, emotive, energetic set, how he remembers all his words I don’t know. He signed my every-writer-should-have-one-handbag-notebook, which is currently fairly empty as I have just finished the one I used when this poetry mission started, last October. I have a lovely message now to inspire me every time I open the book.
After an adrenalin packed day I headed home by train and car and resisted the temptation to stay up all night and dance around in happy circles! (Although my performance photos are not something I enjoy looking at or sharing at the moment, I think ZUMBA might be the best post-gig adrenaline plan!)
Shane Koyczan (language content)