Take a look at some of the great literary happenings in Nottingham last year. We can be proud of our collective achievements.
[Nottingham UNESCO City of Lit 2019 Overview]
Take a look at some of the great literary happenings in Nottingham last year. We can be proud of our collective achievements.
[Nottingham UNESCO City of Lit 2019 Overview]
Review of DIY Poets Quarterly Showcase November 14th 2019. Location: City Arts, Nottingham.
(First half mostly reviewed by Clare Stewart, second half mostly by Vron McIntyre.)
This was my (Clare’s) first DIY quarterly gig at City Arts, I like it, I like the atmosphere, the bar is good, the location is all right, comfortable, good acoustics, yeah. Andrew Martin and Laura Grevel shared compering duties, they did v well, made the evening fun, and ensured the evening ran smoothly. John Humphreys also looked after timings, and helped keep things run to time. We tried the sandtimer thing too. Some people remember/take to it, others don’t. That’s how it goes.
Angelina’s quite new to the poetry scene and this was her first time performing. Welcome to DIY, Angelina. I look forward to hearing more from her and hope she will become a DIY stalwart!! Angelina’s poems were about chicken pox, her annoying loveable little brother, her Inner Me, and a reflection about what’s in her mind. Simple, almost childlike, straightforward, easy rhymes. But don’t be deceived. There is an awful lot said in that simplicity.
With impeccable timing and rhyming, Sue Allen gave us three of her best loved funny risqué poems. Johnny Depp’s string vest and the misadventures of mankini man involved a lot of lycra and tying up, while the buzz of her novel new alarm clock sent any remaining blues packing.
Three poems about place. Our well-travelled Marathon Martin ran the marathon, in arathon!!! And gave us a poem about this experience, the rainbow of nationalities, trying to say Thank you in Greek. Next up, a poem I’m very fond of, a place very familiar to Martin, Berlin, about being stranded in the rain. The refrain It rained a lot in Berlin that day produces a feeling of nostalgia and romance. And the third place was his hometown of Guildford, a memorable underfoot crunch, as featured in the latest DIY zine (just out!)
A long and a short one. The long one was Every Contact Leaves a Trace, a grisly gothic love story, about a lipsticky angel’s poisoned kiss that leaves a deadly virus, a disease, a bubonic nastiness? Ghastly and scary. The short one Freedom is Just Another Word about corruption and the lack of justice in our world, til Freedom becomes meaningless. Mm, can’t disagree, Neil…
A problem with her chair meant that Vron had to perform from the floor and not on the stage which was a shame, and yeah, just typical, eh? the moment you need the thing to work, it gives up…. (We sorted it later, and she got home okay, I think…) A poem about writing, a snapshot, waking up in the middle of the night and trying to write down the conversation going on in your head. With surreal fishing imagery. Princess and the Pea, a sarcastic drama poem about being gaslighted. Over peas. Pea scatterers take all the blame. Just leave that princess on her lumpy bed, Vron!! You scatter all you want grrl! And a poem about devices that make you look busy when you just don’t want to look like a Billy No-mates…
Andrew’s poetry has recurring themes of the natural world and global warming in his first three poems. His first poem was sorta sciencey. Grid North and Magnetic North aligned recently (who knew?) and won’t do that again for a very long time. I don’t know what that means, but I get that it was a magical rare happening, and how wonderful that is. And I also vaguely wonder why I didn’t feel something when it happened? Then a poem about coal and coalmining villages, the complex relationship of a community to its local industry, concerns about health and ecology and how we value people. Then back into outer space to think about a black hole. Andrew also mines news stories for ideas for poems. And this was about a goose that crashed into a taxi during goose fair week. Irony and humour collide.
Clare decided to give us some good humoured poems. Chocolate Brownies was stuffed with good wholesome happy things about childhood, and a poem about an early teacher Miss Bijetti involved spaghetti, confetti and floaty dresses. Clare described many wonderful things she could be doing, were she not lying in the sun, not feeling guilty or bored. And I particularly liked Heart, Head, Hormones, a deft and witty take on the sometimes conflicting responses we experience as we weigh up internal impulses of emotion, caution and attraction.
John read two poems. His deep faith leads him to write poems that are meaningful, kind, full of hope. I think John is aware that not all of us follow a god, and consequently switch off when hearing a religious poems, so he often twins poems, as he says, a secular poem followed by the religious version. John uses repetition and rhyme to give us his message. I’m not very good at receiving advice, and I’m not keen on advice given through poetry, but John is so well-meaning and his message so full of simple kindness and hope that I can’t complain about. It’s encouraging to be reminded that good things happen.
This was Birgit’s first time reading her poems at DIY. Three very interesting and thought provoking poems, an evocative description of a first date, the competing demands of being a busy mum trying to write poetry, and a portrait of her mother, about Trümmerfrau, translated as rubble-women, women who helped clear bomb sites after Allied bombing, and Birgit’s mother was part of this effort. This was a great first performance for DIY, hope to hear more of Birgit’s impressive poetry in future.
John read us two strong and vivid poems he said he had to write, with plenty of informative preamble. First was a fantastical description of a house with roots, based on a surrealistic painting, describing its “beard of roots” and referring to an “octopus in a sea of sorrow”. The second was inspired by a film about traditional Macedonian beekeepers, and how they had ways of farming sustainably like “take half, leave half” of the honey, an approach not shared by new neighbours who don’t understand how to make it work “a microcosm of all our struggles with nature”. Great stuff to finish the DIY Poets section of the evening.
And then to the Open Mic, which was also stuffed amazingly full of talent.
Guy gave us three poems – a drinking binge replete with nautical metaphors – ‘drunk like the Cutty Sark’ – a tense almost-confrontation with an elderly bus passenger over a priority seat, and a thought provoking piece about his father-in-law dying on the Isle of Wight involving a crow on a cliff, a small girl, and a search for meaning.
Alex gave us two interesting pieces, the first a quiet poem, about quietness. He described heads moving, which “agree, but not with you”, and touched on self-loathing.
The second, which he’d written in the intermission, offered us humorous choices between unappealing alternatives like “burnt toast or cold tea” or “half a rotten onion or no food at all”. We were left to guess what this might have been referring to.
Stuart’s first poem was about “Silent Letters” (from his “Venetian period”) and their importance to the words we use even if we don’t speak them aloud. He followed with a poem (from his “Morrison’s café period”) pondering funky modern vegetable names, and ended with an exploration of the complications of old railway timetables, full of train-related metaphor.
Will, in his inimitable style, gave us one longer poem, “Cannibalism at the Nature Reserve” full of dramatic descriptions of a slug, bisected by a bicycle, providing a feast for its sluggy friends “like pigs at the trough” and all the implications, mentioning the “steady dissection of an old friend” and “reckless cuisine”. It managed to be both tragic and funny. Good stuff.
Gail read “The Return” describing the soft hills of the coal valley of her origins, and telling us “mountains surround my psyche”, an expression of hiraeth. “Bute Avenue” was a love poem describing the excitement of a first kiss with someone with red hair and an “itchy deterrent trench coat”, and “waiting to fall in love”. The third poem was a vivid description of a black locust tree with orange blossoms, a “settler” in Bridgford Park.
Jess’s offering, delivered in confident note-free style, was about her brother, indulging in substances, instead of doing much with his life despite her repeated attempts to convey the message that “intelligence without aspiration is like a bird without wings”. Very sad. Very impressive.
And finally Rose gave us “Revolting Squares” a detailed and passionate account of her involvement in recent Extinction Rebellion protests with a wide range of people, both local and in London, giving us the hopeful message that “people are uprising”.
Then to our featured poet of the evening Kevin Jackson, resplendent in a gorgeous blue jumper and a string of pearls, reminding us there is nothing more radical than listening to each other.
Kevin’s poems speak powerfully and thoughtfully of love and relationship to others and his delight in and deep connection with the natural world, and also remind us of the need to work for tolerance and against injustice. From the first poem, with its branches of the enchanted forest “numberless like the names of love” and its birds, who “do fly, as do we” there is a message of optimism, in the face of loss and grief, the prospect of healing, reconnection and joy. “Touching You”, the title poem of his first collection, reminds us “don’t take a second for granted” and of the need to set aside our doubts and reach out. “Sapiens” deals with war and remembrance and tells us tolerance is not hardwired into us, and so must be worked on. “Love’s Garden” is a poignant response to the death of 49 queer people in the Orlando nightclub shooting, the tangible result of intolerance. He tears a flag into strips: “When 49 is reached, the whole garden loosens, as if weeping”. “Queer, Queerer, Queerest” gives us permission to love rebelliously, generously, to sing, dance and cry as we see fit.
In other pieces we hear about the calf going to the slaughterhouse, a homeless man no-one will reach out to, kissing in the rain, of “laughter like a ladder” and “moonlight scratched from standing stones”. For me two of the most powerful pieces in the set came towards the end. “Looking Out” is a moving poem relating age, crafting and memory, “knitting cellular poetry”, and finishing “I’m an oak tree, she knitted me well”. In “Finally” Kevin relates the impact on his mother of the death of his father when he was fifteen, just at the point where he had found joyful love with his best friend, which in the face of his mother’s grief he can’t disclose, despite his “body full of song, body bursting higgledy-piggledy into flowers”. Both these pieces were very moving, and like the rest of the set, full of lush and beautiful imagery. Kevin’s second collection “Loves Burn” will be out soon from Big White Shed, and I think this performance showed that we’ll be in for a treat.
To round off the evening we were lucky enough to have a set from talented up and coming singer- songwriter Jimi Mack. Skilful guitar playing, emotionally complex lyrics, touching on themes of relationship, loss, mental health (these were, he said, his “miserable” songs) and a great, resonant voice, singing vocals full of light and shade, made this a memorable performance. Definitely one to watch!
[DIY Poets Quarterly Showcase November 2019]
In October DIY poets took part in the Poetry Funfair event at Nottingham Playhouse as part of National Poetry Day 2019. Here are some flavours of this wonderful event, and some of the lovely people that supported it.
More event photos (Photo credit Fraser Youngson)
Article by Pauline Black and Martin Grey, courtesy of Nottingham City of Literature.
DIY Poets (we’re nice and we don’t always rhyme) have been performing poetry in Nottingham for over fifteen years. Tonight, the first of our quarterly nights at City Arts, will feature an open mic, DIY Poets, plus a wonderful acoustic musician/ singer. We are also launching issue 46 of our free A6 zine.
For ages 18+. Wheelchair accessible. Hearing loop available. Gender neutral toilet. Accessible toilet.
Grassroots poetry at its best.
We have great news for you. DIY Poets are heading north for the summer! We are very excited to announce that we have a one week residency at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Between 10-16 August around 15 DIY poets will be on hand to entertain you with our DIY Poetry Fix at The Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street EH1 1LG. Every evening from 8.15 – 9.15pm. We can promise short sharp poetry that makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you realise how much you love poetry. Featuring a series of short spoken word slots, with some very special guests. A diverse array of voices, with a plethora of themes, the big stuff, the small stuff and everything in between.
To find out who is taking part please go to our Edinburgh Line-Up Page. Here you will find full biographies. If you are in Edinburgh be sure to come and see us; you will be assured of a warm welcome.
We’re nice and we don’t always rhyme.
[DIY Poets At The Edinburgh Fringe]
[Reviewed by Clare Stewart]
Laura Grevel, in lovely colours, a pink jacket and aubergine hair contrasting with her blue eyes, had some Aristotelian questions for us. The answer to all these inventive questions was No. I’ve never roasted snakeskin and dipped it in chocolate? Does this mean I’m boring? Does this mean I live a very narrow life? No, I think it means Laura has a kerazy imagination and a philosophical turn of mind.
Senora Amazon, written as a heartfelt angry letter from the natural world to us, the overconsuming, greedy and damaging species. Eventually, like a worn out mother, she tells us to clean up our own mess. Laura’s extraordinary awareness of the natural world and all her travelling give her a very wide perspective, she’s a wake-up call in herself.
Martin Grey who was also a compere, and with his parents in the audience, told us that he’s gone soft and romantic. Maarrtin!!! Letting the team down!!!
Speaking his poems from memory, his first poem was about cherry blossom. A wonderful mixture of images to do with adventure and with office life. Remember a time when cherry blossom fell on someone’s nose and made them sneeze. The images very cleverly mixed up and interspersed in a way that made the mind dance from image to image.
Then, I Want to be an Astronaut. I don’t know if this was written specifically for the To the Moon and Back gig at the poetry festival, but I think that’s where I first heard it, it shows us a journey to outer space, past different planets, hitching a ride off Halley’s Comet, imaginatively drawing us a spacey journey, he invites us to come with him.
Martin’s setting out on his own poetry journey and we wish him lotsa luck. And we like soft and romantic, actually.
Andrew Martin, also a compere, and I was just wondering about his waistcoat, not the usual multi-coloured affair, but a white on white striped one, he explained his friend had made it from ex-curtain material, and beautiful it was too.
Andrew’s concern about the environment is evident through this choice of poem topics – forests, the stored food of hibernating animals being damaged, a restored coal tip, floods in the east of England 1953. Another poem about Timpson’s the key-cutters and the business’s commitment to employ ex-prisoners also reflects Andrew’s compassionate leftism.
Hazel Warren taking a risk reading off her cracked phone screen. It is a rather beautiful crack, and I agree it would be hard to get it mended, but it does make reading off it a bit difficult.
First, a poem to friends on their marriage. In her soft voice, Hazel told them their marriage is strong, the kind of love that will share its dinner with you. Aww…
Her second poem was about communication. Hazel is all about communication, the importance of just sayn what you gotta say. Take a leap of faith.
And prize for the most beautiful poem of the evening has to go to Hazel for her poem In the Morning, about that magic moment between sleep and waking. Starting most of the lines with the word ‘Before’ gave the poem a rhythm and a sense of nostalgia, almost, like fluid, like music. Mmmm lovely.
Will Kummer our featured poet of the evening. He found DIY Poets, can you believe this, only a year ago, at last year’s poetry festival!! He’s quickly become a core contributor to the collective. Will watches life quietly and invites us to take a peak with him.
Will also speaks his poems from memory, a feat of which I am in complete awe. It really changes the relationship between poet and audience. Will doesn’t make many gestures, he has a strong, clear voice and is a still but solid presence on the stage. All this lets the words do the talking.
The first two poems had a similar theme, truth, the first asks if we can believe truth, and the second is a poem about our fragile world. But he’s hopeful that we can learn and meet the challenge of climate change. Let’s hope so.
Spacecraft, written for the To the Moon and Back gig at the poetry festival, Will called this a cheapskate villanelle cos he didn’t have time to make it right in time for the gig. I think he should just call it a Willanelle and say he’s invented a new poem format… It’s an imaginary trip to outerspace.
Banburgh Beach is an old favourite. I love the image of the dogs playfighting at the end of this poem.
This Place, a real favourite of mine, love this poem. This is actually a villanelle, and it combines countryside and work vocabulary. Describing a field, ‘This is not a spreadsheet with data row by row’ a yearning to forget work and enjoy this trip to the country.
The Mugging, about being mugged by London starlings. Well, you know what those London ones are like.
The Lincoln train, hilarious poem about the crowded 20.30 train to Lincoln on a Saturday evening. Really funny portraits of the various drunken people and the scrapes they’ve gotten themselves into.
The Marrow. I find this poem really intriguing. I love watching over Will’s shoulder as he notices the gradual dilapidation and eventual disintegration of this mortal marrow. And the question, is it now still a marrow? And my own question, why didn’t someone pick it up and cook it and eat it or something??
A Bladderful of Hyperbole. A wet patch on a wall. What is it? What was it? We listen as Will goes through all the possible answers, stupid, serious, mundane. Funny.
That was going to be his last poem, but proving again that timing yourself before the gig bears no relation to how long it actually takes when you’re on stage, he was too early to finish, so he recited a few more poems, (also from memory!)
The Goose Manifesto came out of a workshop at a nature reserve. About bullyboy geese – does Will have a thing about bully-birds???
The Purring Dead about zombie cats that play with you and leave your corpse on the doorstep, and finally a limerick about bald garibaldi biscuits. (I’ve been craving one ever since…)
Great, impressive set, Will.
DIY Showcase At The Maze 9th May 2019
DIY Poets always provide a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere and this special event to mark International Women’s Day 2019 was no exception. Organised by a subcommittee of female DIY members “Women Say Stuff” is now in its fourth year, and goes from strength to strength showcasing fantastic, inspirational female voices performing to a mixed audience. In line with DIY Poets tradition, it was a night of three halves featuring poets Cathy Grindrod, Ioney Smallhorne and DIY’s own Hazel Warren providing music and poetry in the final act. There was, as always a surprising array of fearless, female, open micers, including first timers, seasoned performers and returning voices with prose, spoken word and poetry on a variety of themes.
The event was a celebration of women and a reminder of the reasons why International Women’s Day is still relevant. In addition to celebration and awareness, the event raised vital funds for two chosen charities, working towards equality for all. Kairos support LGBT Refugees in Nottingham and Home Start work with families of young children to provide the best start in life.
DIY Poet and host Lytisha Tunbridge opened the first of three halves with a piece on the theme of family, a tribute to “three generations, four women” a list poem and call to be inspired, a reminder of the broad range of roles women can play in life. Laura stepped up to the open mic next, with a poem about a –shock/horror -single, thirty year old woman who buys a dream in a dress – what could be weird about that? Milla followed with an ode to the Super Moon and a tender memory of a final day spent with a loving pet. Next up was Kitty, a first timer and our youngest performer at just 14 with an excellent piece on gender identity and “forced femininity” through social reactions to a haircut, an insightful piece and a young voice we hope to hear more from. Hazel followed, returning to the stage after a six year reprieve with two pieces from opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, opening with a poem which hinted at dark forces of self-destruction before shifting to a more positive, optimistic piece, which conveyed a sense of feeling grounded and connected. We hope to hear more from her soon. Closing the opening act, award winning poet, and former Derbyshire poet Laurette Cathy Grindrod, took to the stage, opening with the excitement, freedom and fear of swings, before introducing us to her Aunt Margaret, reflections on the love of close family members who get away somehow with those things parents can’t. Cathy’s work has a real skill in noticing individuals and the next piece she shared demonstrated the strength of noticing, when working in a children’s home, writing with and for looked after children, building rapport through listening, noticing and, when required, burping. We were delighted to be the first to hear her mirror poem marking 100 years of votes for (some) women, a cleverly devised piece which noticed the thousands, the details of one woman in the thousands before returning to the thousands, through history who have marched side by side in the fight for equality, green white and purple, in purpose. Cathy closed her set with “Learning the Language” describing the journey to self-discovery, finding one’s own path and becoming a writer, feeling grateful, after the fact, for the gift of poetry, hidden in el-o-cu-shon instruction.
Part two opened with DIY stalwart, Clare Stewart and Oil Rig Woman, the irritation and disdain for that New Year’s resolution swimmer getting in your way. Josephine, from supported charity Kairos then spoke to us briefly about their work with LGBT Refugees reminding that in 75 countries love is still illegal for some. Jill then opened up the second open mic set, with “A glorious year” a great and hopeful poem embracing change and transformative power of the menopause. Fay, an optimist, with a shadow, described the ever present threat of darkness lurking with a sense of not ever being able to fully let that guard down and bask in the light. Her second poem again cleverly danced the line between one feeling being undercut by another –well you know I don’t care what other people think, matched with that need to have another drink. Vron came next, with three pieces, including her homework for Cathy’s writing group (I hope Cathy gives extra credit), opening with a poem for International Women’s Day and for being heard. The next poem remembered a reconnection with a friend and remembering the “why” of these connections. Finally introducing us to her grandmother, a working class war widow who had figured out how to do things best, whether it be kissing loudly, writing illegibly or taking exercise tips from Vet TV, always giving them what for. A strong woman we can see the traits shining through in Vron. Lauren followed up, a newcomer to the scene welcomed through workshops at the Women’s Centre, also following the theme of strong inspirational female figures. Jesse came next, a big voice and an unstoppable force, Jesse has been on the scene in Nottingham for about a year she tells us, although we all think she’s been part of it forever. Broken Window invited us to look onto a hopeful view from a broken place and described the feeling of affinity with beauty of pain in the sharpness of shards and the power of potential in breaking free. The fabulous Ioney Smalhorne closed the second act, always a force of nature Ioney can be counted on for a strong and confident voice with thought provoking images and themes. Opening with her mum’s advice, love with an undercurrent, for what that “just in case” might mean. Next introducing the women of Xaymaca, the Taino-Arawak indigenous population of Jamaica, threading from second generation, British Jamaican women, and reaching tenderly back through history to connect with those roots. Staying with themes of family the next poem explained why the heaviest teapot in the shop should be chosen, in memory of Grandma Lyn’s ordeal and self-protection in mind as well as tea, before and returning to history, reaching back through time to send a message of warning on the lunar eclipse Columbus used to his advantage. The Spinerette weaves a knotted web and the Bride reflects on the experience of a young Ghanaian bride and the symbolism of wedding ceremonies. Finally bringing us to a more personal piece “Shelf Life” described a full life of an independent mid-thirties woman, still constantly reminded of lack in one area by familial, biological and societal expectations. We think you’re great, as Clare said listening to Ioney, is like honey in the ears.
Lytisha returned to the stage to introduce the third and final half of the evening, opening with Lolly reading from the “Sheroes” anthology (a recent publication from the Women’s Centre Work shop), about her own heroic Nana, I love this poem honouring the traditions of superstitions passed down advice, I don’t stand on three grates either. This was followed with a humorous piece on the irresistibility of cookie dough ice cream. Seeing Lolly grow as a performer over the past year has been a delight and seemed to encapsulate the whole event in this expression of confidence developed. Next up was Hattie another first time performer, who shared a tender list poem, “Love is…” filled with nostalgia and family, school years and reminiscences of losses and pain through to new life, a touching poem, we’d love to hear more from Hattie soon. Nicky was next up, sharing a wonderful rhythmic ode to her womb, rising and falling with monthly recurrence of possibilities only to be emptied away each time, followed by a woman’s rant, we all love a good rant and this was no exception. Sarah closed the open mic section with “Fuzzy Felt” clever use of alliteration and imagery of being ready to piece together a new picture when coming out the other side of heart ache, also providing a brief Haiku before closing with “Othering Me” inspired by Kitty’s earlier poem, this was an angry poem about being on the receiving end of labelling, boxing up and othering. Finally Hazel Warren closed the third half with a lovely mix of her own poems matched with distinctive covers of songs on Ukulele, following a pattern of song then poem Pompeii – Bang Bang (Nancy Sinatra) That Room – I Drink (Mary Gaultier) The list –Only You (Yazoo) and Spiders Silk – Come on Sister (Belle and Sebastian) The poems had great lines such as “sharing secrets in the darkness, equal parts confidence and desire.” There was a sad poem which noted that “he drew the sunlight from me.” It was an entertaining and powerful mix of words and melody.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the event a success, including all those who came along to share poems and those who came to listen. Thanks to Stephanie Webb photography for photos and to Sobar for the delicious cakes and drinks, thanks to Emma who helped with technical support on mic and pa issues, to Frank who helped review the bits I couldn’t and to Lolly, who womanned the door and took charge of bucket collections and open mic sign ups, thanks to everyone who gave to the buckets, we raised around £100 for each of our chosen charities. Same time next year? I wouldn’t be anywhere else.
By Hazel Warren and Frank McMahon
Local bards DIY Poets had their thirty third show at the Maze on 14th February, Valentine’s day but it was not planned for to be on that date. The night was brilliantly compared by Jake and Hazel.
There were ten DIY Poets with five minutes each, followed an open mic, featured poet Laura Grevel and headline musician Eibhleen Concradah.
First poet up was Will, who gave us atmospheric “old stories of the forest” with evocative lines such as “in praise of darkest sacrament” and “listen for the night song”.
Next up was Clare Stewart who gave us a poem for Valentine’s Day, Bothersome Fly “think about you all the time you bothersome fly”. After this Clare gave us what she describes as hate poem
Clare ended on a poem to her brother Chris, a poem about sibling love, “scores the tries child” sporty, “dad’s right hand man child” reliable.
John Merchant John gave us a two poems and a song. The poems were impressive, particularly the first, the Cart. John ended with a song by Michael Holiday.
Sue Allen was up next with humourous poems on the theme of attraction with Love times Two, with her lover and his logical mind. The second poem, one of Sue’s rugby poems contained the very funny lines” chose him form a line out of eight forward players all hoping for a try.” Sue concluded her set with a sonnet using the persona of someone carrying out an autopsy.
Next up was Andrew Martin who gave us a poem inspired by Banksy where “affluence burns a hole in Banksy’s pocket” his next poem; Injuries, explored the 34 celebrities injured during the Jump. Shssh looked at how the best places in Britain are a secret but are usually in Scotland or the north of England.
Fay Deller gave us some typically poignant poems on firstly the theme of love, Daydreams, “in a place where judgement melts and fades away” Opinions dealt powerfully with racism and Hope looked at homelessness, where it will hopefully be part of a collection on homelessness. Fay ended her set with the Knowing which is part of the women poets booklet Sheroes.
John Humphreys John has recently uncharacteristically tried to use modern technology, using his phone at Light Night, trying in his words “to be super cool and super modern.”
John’s first poem used the words of two women war correspondents. John included the evocative and sad lines A broken heart is a shabby thing” and “the world has been very unlovely in my eyes and I feel unlovely in it.”
John ended with a poem about rebirth using an Aboriginal word but as he was running over time had to read the poem very fast!
Lytisha promised us lots of miserable poems. Lytisha did a lovely poem for her mum “If I were a unicorn”, and then a poems about the love of a dying grandmother for her grandchild. Her final poem used the great metaphor of a Russian doll, in a poem about grief, where “at first your grief will be the outer doll” with the last doll “solid, fits not in your hand, but in your heart always. “
Our final DIY Poet was Jake whose opening line was “it’s not the summer of love and said he was “single and miserable” Jake opened with My Friend Peter which he described as his favourite love song “I’m tired of sleeping with myself” Jake ended with a poem about the difference between want and need “to want is transcendent, to look for more than just the mechanics.”
Without Frank there would be no DIY poets, so it is fitting he should open the second act. The master of the short form, he begins with a threat to do 35 poems, he manages four. First looking back at John Clare, before turning to reminiscence of his own more hirsute days, lamenting that “the quiff is dead” His next poem celebrates Georgie Best, talent on pitch and self-destruction off. The final poem “Stones in my running shoes” gives a positive message of resilience, discard those that don’t support you, and don’t keep on carrying stones in your shoes.
Matt comes next, a poet I always delight in hearing, his first poem concentrates on light shining through the chinks of doubt, I’m 95% sure, but I’m focussing on that 5%. Next he shares a touching glimpse into love and advice provided by his Grandmother. Third up to the open mic is Trevor “Exit Wound” seems to describe the pain of unrequited love, this is followed by what might be an exploration on the transience of beauty or certainty of night –“Dawn” rushes in and is gone, leaving… what?. Kevin takes to the mic next, with a powerful protest poem of planet-sized anger, demanding and inspiring change through people. Vron comes next escaping the supermarket, to enjoy cool evening air, freedom and the coming of spring, followed by a love poem of opposites, balancing the downsides of long distance, with the upsides and possibility of enduring love. Ella is next willing on a confession of love with rhythms building urgency in “fluffy socks”. In her second poem, in the midst of a cold, Ella remembers her mum with great warmth. Next to the stage is a newcomer Dave his poem “the joy of the gents” gives comedic insight into the unknown abyss, followed by the fates of the moray haiku and fellatio, with only a hint of ooh err missus. Hazel, our host of the first half, closes with a communal love poem, imploring an element of audience participation.
Laura Grevel relatively new to the DIY poets, but already has made such an impact and is one many have been excited and intrigued to see a feature length set from. She took to the stage like a natural, and can be relied upon to provide surprising and engaging story telling powers. The audience is captivated as Laura unfolds the geography of her life, in such a way as one unfolds a map never to be able to fold it back again. We begin, as all good stories do, at the beginning, in America, and who would have thought… working from that repeating refrain to introduce the heroine of this story of her own making to leave for Austria, Switzerland, England and, finally to here, on this very stage before our eyes. Who would’ve thought? Next we are invited, on turning 40, into the intimate setting of an Austrian Mountain top Tupperware party. Here language barriers are overcome with cake, generosity and shared rituals, woven with memories of childhood and wishes for the future into homesickness brought on by the familiar popsicle tray. We head out blinking, into the cold, stopping only to consider the brilliance of the sky and to wonder at the unfurling of a new identity.
Her third piece, first in German and then translated, the Texas woman in Liebenaum reflects on new life and a survival strategy of concentrating on the moment, standing in the now. Next we are asked, well, do we really want to know the truth about Italy and Verona? A confusing red tape nightmare, yet a song of mixed experience emerges, with mixed, close living quarters, mixed feelings, mixed with confusion of visa bureaucracy and pollution making it hard to see, hard to think clearly, a school for the children? and building tension and urgency before finding the truth, which comes in the form of a female cyclist, dressed in white, providing pause and breath in the poem. Next to Geneva, where an old woman in angry voice accusingly helps discover the strong voice of our heroine narrator. Unfortunately running short on time our heroine concludes her journey, but we are left wanting more, having fallen into the story tellers trap, looking round to seek out characters we’ve met and wishing to go back inside the tale… I for one really hope this act could be developed into a full length, one woman show. Laura is enthralling to watch and listen to, with such attention to character and atmosphere you feel you were inside the pome itself. However the evening must come to a close and not before the wonderful as ever, music from Elaine, a friend and supporter of DIY poets and a talented singer songwriter. She moved the crowd with a mix of clever covers with a unique twist (not many people can pull off Queen like that), and originals (including ponderings on Bill Gates childhood and lyrics inspired by geeky tv characters). A great end to yet another great evening from DIY poets at the Maze.
By Martin Dean
As venues go this was one of the most impressive I have seen in a while. A 1920’s picture house – the only one of its kind left in Sheffield. Three DIY poets, Martin Grey, Hazel Warren and yours truly made the trip to Sheffield for the second Indie Beer Feast. This gorgeous venue was packed with a variety of mouthwatering ales/lagers and street food and was a sell-out.
The food court which was originally built as a theatre separate from the cinema area became our performance area. Taking to the stage in front of an appreciative audience Martin introduced us to the delights of roundabout sponsorship, and fond memories of his grandfather in Fish, Chips, Bread and Butter and a Cigarette. Hazel regaled us with a series of tales in her own inimitable style beginning with ‘Brew Love’ and including my favourite which carries the admonition that ‘you shouldn’t be able to touch your spleen’.
My own contribution included ‘Picture Postcard from Turin’ with plenty of Italian food-based imagery and ‘Pop Up Tea Room’ which brought the traditional tea room concept into modern multicultural Britain.
All in all a great afternoon of fun and culture in a memorable setting.
DIY Poets Maze 15 November 2018
Second Half Review by John Humphreys
A warm welcome from our ever-genial host Andrew and the 2nd part of the DIY poets’ slot had begun.
First up in the 2nd half was Sue, with an ever-stylish line of hats for her wonderful mix of feminism and humour and a new poem, about lies insincerity and mistrust – must be those men again. Then from her fabulous book, the monkey mind emerges, with the ape-shit monkey brain that sounded like very hard work. The delivery as ever with a Cheshire cat grin and a knowing look.
Next up, our founder Frank, with the Wolverhampton warrior on fine form and the great Detectorists poem, the double denim Status Quo age. No arguments from me as a life-long closet Quo fan and a big fan of the BBC 4 comedy gold. Then reading without notes – the scary no stabilizers approach like a high wire trick. In a classic Frank set, a cycling metaphor followed linking to the ever-obtuse higher education world. Next my favourite poem using a Dr Who metaphor, where parents argue, and real life is scarier than the Daleks and you don’t have a Tardis. Bass players next with a Paul McCartney big up – yes it really happened, finishing afterwards with Wizard of Oz imagery, all behind the curtain but with Frank in the spotlight.
Jake next to regale us with the prog-rock hair nicely in place, “wires everywhere” he cries, referring to the band’s elaborate set up and trailing death-traps. HP Lovecraft cover to begin – with a nasty man conjuring up all sorts of frights in Sonnet Part 5, but Jake’s at home with the homecoming demons. Next up a song cover, Trapeze anyone? No me neither, but in 1972 (you can’t be old enough Jake), this prog-ish band went ‘way back to the bone’ – sweet chaos indeed from the dark-side.
Laura’s exotic burr next, but which mic to use? Err on the right side for now. First up we hear the vowels again today, followed by a dark day, singing and slapping with ‘my poems all brash’ – with audience clap along to this very intoxicating sound. She is a ‘mad, mad girl’ she says, but one we rather like, with her big black hole and all that comes with it.
Lytisha then follows with a flower in her hair as a symbol of effort, remembrance and self-awareness. In her 40-word Nottingham poem she talks of dragons, trees, tigers, pagans and half-dressed bananas amongst other mad things. Hurrah for We Shall Overcome – well done to all involved – Lytisha take a bow as a main organiser. Then to precarity the mystery cat (apologies to TS Elliot) but he’d surely approve of the sentiments here and well the Maze certainly does, as an intense light is shone on austerity – let’s chase it out folks.
Hazel follows with a single poem, the theatre of the bedroom window, what a rainbow of a poem and next time, can we have more please, as we think you’re fab, he said speaking for everyone. Andrew follows with a National Gallery, political vision poem that is short but very sweet -one of your best I think. How lucky we are to have a group with so many talented writers and performers, but the talent was to keep flowing as we brought on the open mic.
An audience member named Rachel first up to give us root vegetables and Brexit, food and the tuba, all together with double decker buses and much more wonderment. There’s a home at DIY Poets Rachel should you be so inclined me thinks.
Next up our own Kevin Jackson and some love poems, through the raw shadow of a tiger which makes us feel as alive as the performance. Politics next with the hard hitting ‘better dead than gay’ spouting father playing God of harm and hate and singing the “suffocation of love” and all our anger and sadness hangs on each word.
Next up another of ours, the dapper Martin Dean, plugging for poets for 12 January with your 1 minute poems (at the Lord Roberts). His first poem speaks of nuclear physics and elementary particles and underground labs. Science is much more compelling all of a sudden to this luddite. Next we are asked, rabbit or horse as we begin to get double vision from this singular poet. Following on is someone who feels like an old friend who we’ve known forever, Joy Rice billed as the “bard of Bullwell” or the “Piccadilly Poet” as Joy would have it. Its Brexit again folks, but with a shortage of sperm! You had to be there, but very amusing and unexpected. Local dialect time comes after with “bogger talk” if you’re that way inclined, bogger it it’s great and gets smiles all round.
Daron, my Speech Therapy brother, ends this part of the night with a stormer, as is his norm and this reviewer loves the tale of Glastonbury “rising from the levels” and the lay-lines of the ancient and the people who populate it, “bandstand Bolsheviks” and all, definitely my kind of revolution. This magic to be bounced into circus sounds and a journey to surpass time on the silk road. Darren thunders sermons from the mount and we, his spellbound congregation, believe.
Mark Gwynne Jones and Psychic Bread
Written under the influence of a far out show!
A master of psychedelic poetry, fluted, guitared, drummed and keyboarded into my other head, so the poet said “there’s gonna be a show, an end of the world show”. The cymbaling monkey whirled music of the spheres, I’m floating to “the wild dreams of paradise”. The lady of snakes silences and with marbles for eyes, I said to the world goodbye, a carnival of “hey nanna, hey nanna ho”, the constantly moving theatre show, “come and have a go, where too, nobody knows”. To remember the grand old duke of York, then unmask the monkey for new dreams of huge nights and filmic mimics of God’s image, hooray the animals come.
Study grass, holy tangled mess I’m more I’m less and one blade leads the parade, whilst Amarilis tells secrets that we don’t believe, did I choose another way? Only the poet can say, meanwhile a mouth organ plays. Restless feet dance in a whole new trance, a purple baby in a burning brothel it was a gloriously awful way to the end of days. Marmalade on toast, shaving foam conversations, ghost down true lovers walk, then pulled into a door, the universe expands like ships through sands. Don’t confuse the words by half on the road to Matlock Bath, only you can let your cage door open, 5 more minutes please, 5 more minutes please, whilst the reality walls crumble see. The 4 wild horses are finally here, and we cheer and we cheer and we cheer.
DIY Poets – grassroots poetry at its best!