The 14th September marked 12 months since I ventured into the world of poetry – or more accurately, re-entered it after a 15 year break from writing, the performing came later – 2nd October marks that – last year it was Julie Boden’s event in Leamington – this year it will be performing poetry at Roy McFarlane Soulful Poetry night for Arts All Over the Place, ‘Poetry Performance and Everything Else Festival’. Both Roy and Julie are former Birmingham Poet Laureates.
I have been planning my event since the beginning of August and was excited that it was finally here. On the evening of the event the ‘quiet’ Sunday night Pub venue I had booked was rammed. There was a 2nd party booked and it was a loud staff party, I had been told they would be seated around the corner and later there were several groups of young drunk people in and all sorts happening out in the beer garden, which FORTUNATELY I was oblivious to.
I had been promised balloons and apparently the Helium balloon wasn’t working so before it even started I was in a manic spin of panic attacks and anxiety, which is a real shame because looking back on it – it was a cracking night, just in the wrong venue.
My Dad was with me when I performed at Julie Boden’s event in 2013, mum came to the Book Launch of Restless Bones so I thought as we were borrowing his PA system it seemed only fair. Plus I am proud of him, an amazing jazz musician and has worked with such poets as Jo Bell and Julie Boden. Everyone enjoyed dad’s playing and I think the inspiration may have worked both ways as dad is joining us for the next SpeakEasy – which is the 1st anniversary one and will be a great event.
I invited people who have inspired me or supported me over the year. As I told them on the night I had expected rejection and success in writing and networking but I could never have predicted the friendships that have come from this year of poeting.
That was really what was central to the celebration, it wasn’t about me and my year at all. My event was an invited open mic type of event, I didn’t force guests to perform but thought rightly, that they would want to perform. I kept introductions short as most people knew each other – although I was bringing my Worcestershire & Birmingham scenes together.
Dad played a couple of numbers on his saxophone after the interval and in the interval – we ate cake – cupcakes which I had spent some time in the morning making with Claire Walker and her daughters. Claire also made another Stanza cake for us to enjoy – there was no cake to bring home!
I still have photographs to upload, which I will add to the names of performers when I can.
Here is a night of music, poetry, stories and celebration.
ONE YEAR A POET
I opened the night with 2 short poems, one about the place I have come from (just a few short years away – 2012) how writing has helped me heal and the 2nd poem, where I am now, living a life that makes sense.
Then Andrea Smith kicked the party off with hilarious poetry that my dad loved! *Pic. to follow*
Geoff Cox, who tells me he writes a poem about once a year asked to perform one short piece, I am touched he wanted to do it at my party. Impressed. *
Jan Watts performed a great set, made us laugh and jangle our bangles – how I tried to get a photo of that, needed a sport timer. She even did a request. *
Kevin Brooke performed his poetry for us, which I was delighted by, he is also a talented short story writer and recently had a book launch for his latest book. (Link to follow)*
Claire Walker performed some poems I requested and shared others too as well as showing us all she should be on the next GBBO (Great British Bake Off)*
Heather Wastie closed the first half with a collection of poems. I had planned to have another interval later and divide the night into 3 parts. At this point we were running to schedule, but this was to be the last time in the evening we would manage that.
My dad, Dutch Lewis played after the interval of cake, cup cakes and chatting.
Tessa Lowe opened the second half of the night and was sporting a crown from the Digbeth Olmpics she had attended earlier. My own floral head piece was bought because Holly Magill suggested I wore a tiara for the night.
Antony Owen took to the mic after that and shared poetry – he is well known as a war poet, he performed other poems from his collection.
Mike Alma performed his great poetry next and then Tim Scarborough and I took to the floor for ‘Rainwatch’ the first poem we collaborated on. It went down well, not everyone had heard us do it before.
Andrew Owens treated us to a short story (I am reading his collection at the moment) and from one host to another praised what I was doing – which was sweet because I was all over the place emotionally.
Maggie Doyle performed great poetry including a poem she wrote especially for me, she gave me a copy after the party. It was a lovely gesture.
Tim Scarborough treated us all to a set of his own. I have missed seeing him perform these last couple of months.
Suz Winspear entertained us with some of my favourite poetry of hers and got to use my dad’s music stand, giving her faithful stand a rare night off! *
Dave Barber shared his poetry and made sure that other poets could come from Birmingham. *
Kathy Gee was next up to the microphone and treated us to some of her poetry. *
Najma Hush performed just one poem, I am grateful she came and performed. *
Io, Cass Osborn performed for us all.
Tim and I closed the show with our moustache poem.
A great celebration – thanks everyone!
Thank you to everybody who came and shared their words and to those who came and celebrated, Elaine Christie, Michelle Crosbie & James Walpole, it was a great night!