The Quiet Compere Tour was a great success for Sarah Dixon in 2014 and what started as a tour of poets in the North of England spread as far as the Midlands. Following her success Sarah applied for a 2nd Arts Council Grant to continue the tour across the UK this year. We were booked prior to funding and kept our fingers crossed. It is my longest awaited gig and due to funding, poets were paid – something that doesn’t happen often enough and is always a pleasure!
I was incredibly excited and worked on what would be part of my set for some time. This tour stop was one in which I knew all my fellow performers and we knew a lot of each other’s work, so it felt a little different to my first exposure to the QC back in 2014, watching the 10 magnificent performers at the MAC.
It was incredibly exciting to be part of the tour and I was delighted when fellow poets mentioned statistics from my interview with Sarah in introductions to their sets.
Ten minutes flies by when you are part of a collective set, most of my headline slots have been 15+ minutes and the pressure of those feels a lot longer than the extra 5 minutes.
My first spark of excitement came when I saw our names in The Hive programme.
Before I knew it the day arrived – I knew it was a mistake to take work on the day, but needs must – so I spent the whole day run ragged by 4 year olds and arrived home in time to get ready and grab some food and GO! No time to feel the pressure, after my Poet Laureate experience, I decided this was for best.
Sarah is exceptionally professional, kind and always seems magnificently calm! On the day she had to deal with a change if line-up, sadly missed was Hayley Frances, I was particularly looking forward to her set because although I saw her a lot 2013/14 I have only seen her perform at the Poet Laureate final, Birmingham Literature Festival 2013. Clive Dee bravely stepped up to the mark… well once you have performed on the same night as John Hegley!
I arrived to find that the ‘Green Room’ was the Oasis Room, which was great as this is the new venue for Writing West Midlands, ground floor and very yellow! They are never green. Sarah Dixon and Steve Wilson (Arts Officer) who I met properly for the first time at the Worcestershire Poet Laureate finals in June greeted me and after some time in the Green Room, I wandered off to find the other poets were all having coffee and cake in the café of course, others were playing in the library, there are some great kids spaces in the walls, small nooks to read books, appreciated by the poets small enough to make use of the spaces.
Sarah Dixon, introducing and performing her own poetry too, including some great words about Frank and from Frank (her young son).
Always a pleasure to listen to, and since her return to theatre last year, someone who I don’t get to see perform as often as I would like, she performed at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year too. A perfect start to the evening!
Mike has written about the war and shared his war poems since 2013, he and I talked of books in my early days and I am delighted he chose to self publish his collection ‘Fragments of a Great War’.
He performed a set of some of his best poems, about butterflies, twin brothers and war. He performed Letters to a Soldier at the Front with the help of Moira and using two voices made it a powerful reading.
Then it was my turn.
I performed some of my favourite poems and am here with my eyes closed because the lines;
‘ I watched your face as you played,
breathing through that silver saxophone …’
always make me want to shut my eyes.
Highly energetic – always whether hosting or performing, I love watching her perform. She treated us to a dark and thought provoking set. I especially liked her Night Club poem. https://www.facebook.com/JasmineGardosiPoet and @jasminegardosi on twitter
Another strong force in the world of music and poetry, someone else who I don’t see nearly enough of. He shared as we hung on every word. A man who is a master of humour, wordplay and talking about allotment produce, whenever encouraged.
The Very Grimm Brothers https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Very-Grimm-Brothers/193869703992330
Another performer I don’t see enough of, her subtle humour is delightful and her set was quietly spoken and well received. It is amazing what we learn about each from our poetry…
like Myfanwy comes from a long line of ‘Windmills’. https://myfanwyfox.wordpress.com
My dear poetry friend who has her first collection/pamphlet coming out this Autumn.
Claire’s pamphlet The girl who grew into a crocodile is available in Autumn 2015 here; http://vpresspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/our-poets.html
Another favourite of mine, I met him back in early 2014 and had not seen him for ages until I went to Jasmine Gardosi’s OPUS CLUB night and we were reunited. He is an amazing bloke and a great ambassador for Poetry.
He shared some incredibly strong poetry, words we needed to here. Crisis and our part to play.
Poignant poetry – I used to love his Haikus but nowadays without the brevity of word count he can pack the same punch!
It was a fabulous night and we all left on a real high. Thanks Sarah for asking me to be involved.
Keep track of Quiet Compere Tour here
or on twitter @quietcomperemcr
The Quiet Compere Tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.