Browsed by
Author: Martin Dean

Latest Zine Edition Now Available

Latest Zine Edition Now Available

I am pleased to announce that our latest zine edition is now available. Arguably our best ever instalment this issue will only be available on line. Packed with short accessible poems, this compact but perfectly formed publication is your ideal companion to a rainy night in.

With topics ranging from a puddle in the pavement to hidden disabilities, coconut gorse on Flamborough Head to the dangers of keeping your trap shut and from Emmet’s water clock to telephones from yoghurt pots this latest magazine arguably plays to the strengths of DIY poets. DIY Poets have always reflected a variety of voices and tones which makes for a delightful and diverse read.

This must read volume is waiting for you now so why not take a look. Share it with your friends now.

 

Interview with a poet John Merchant

Interview with a poet John Merchant

Why did you get into poetry?

Put one way I am glad I got into poetry. It was an interesting journey from the very start. Years ago I was in a duet and had a partner who sadly died. To honour his memory there is still a song we wrote available online, he musician-composer, me a lyric writer.

To further make certain his work was heard I finally got them from poor recordings on audio tape to CD. I gave them away, got copies made continued writing them. Along came a new friend, Andrew of DIY poets. He invited me to Sherwood arts festival.
I read songs and later wrote poems. It started with no music but still lyric writing and graduated to poems. I have since met poet musician Milla who has helped.
I have more music on CD ‘Broken World’ to give away.

DIY Poets Quarterly Showcase 13th February

DIY Poets Quarterly Showcase 13th February

Venue: City Arts [Reviewers Clare Stewart 1st half and Martin Dean 2nd half]

Sue was our bossy but cheerful 1st half compere, who kept us all in order magnificently.

Neil Sue said that Neil is usually political, understands social issues of the day – but then he had to admit that he’s not living up to that on this occasion. He read two untitled poems, the first about a boxing match, powerful, rhythmic and rhyming, describing visceral aggression and crowd reactions, using the vocabulary of battle, with a refrain about taking the blows ‘again and again and again.’ It’s a match between a young man and an older man that the older man feels he needs to endure in order to feel alive, that the older man, Old Jack, eventually wins, but only after the greatest effort and at what cost?

The second untitled poem was slower and shorter, a vision of Death sadly walking through a battlefield, sad, slow, dancing naked, crucified like Jesus.

Eleni read her poems from memory, (am in awe of anyone who can do that), she has a great delivery style, using lots of gestures and vocal expression and props. She often occupies a numinous space, appealing to angels, birds, butterflies, spirits, the sky.

Her first poem, Ravenspirit, a rhyming poem addressing the spirit of the raven, and several other birds too.

Then, a soppy one for Valentine’s To My Twin Flame Whoever You May Be, a love poem, a fantasy butterfly dream, a yearning for a true communion with a lover.

Lustrous Butterfly, this poem is about the way we hide aspects of ourselves, and encouraging us to reveal our colours, delicate but strong. Eleni used a large butterfly as a prop which was covered up at the beginning of the poem, and then she revealed the beauty beneath. I think Eleni would like us all to have the courage to show our beauty.

Martin D I’m Not from London, saying that he’s not various London characters, or was not in various London places, with the refrain ‘It wasn’t me who…’ or ‘It was me who…’

Two Days Later, Martin said that this poem was Sue’s fault, it arose from a conversation he had with her about how things seem two days later. This is a great poem, intriguing and interesting, visual, strange.

On the Shore, Martin went to Leith in August, and said it pissed down like a monsoon, so he hurried toward a café and ordered Cullen skink, a gorgeous Scottish soup. The poem was a description of the soup, lush and rich yumyum… oh no, wait, I’m vegetarian – anyway, it sounded wonderful….

Laura Grevel, all the way from Texas, says her poems from memory – I don’t know how, they are quite long and have many twists and turns to them, surreal, descriptive, bizarre.

How to Make Purple Jello Tofu with Mushroom and Wild Seed Sauce gave us the cooking method for that very thing. An anti-gun poem about the loss of a country as she knew it, she expresses her dismay at the development of gun mania, and says ‘I am from a country that died’.

Kevin

Kevin, Sue said that Kevin is soulful and deep and that she wants to marry him. Kevin did not accept, but he didn’t not accept either… Kevin’s just released a new book, (Sue said that Kevin’s book makes her cry) and he told us about his book launch at City Arts on 12th March. He reminded us that, in doing our poetry evening, we are doing what humans have been doing for millennia, gathering together and telling tales.

His first poem was Beyond the Wall about an ostracised man in a café, and the narrator’s feelings of sadness and guilt about how people are mean to people who seem a bit different. The narrator sits a little nearer the strange man, and wonders what he’s looking at and thinking about.

Raincall starts with the lovely line ‘Chatty the rain tonight’, losing yourself whilst listening to rain, and ends with a line about eating dates in the dark.

And thirdly, a poem as an antidote to Valentine’s. This poem is a vow to continue to grow. It’s like a prayer, a philosophical appeal to people to love, reminds us of how love gets rid of fear, and not to go down the rigid channels of straight monogamy but to love more freely.

Jan is new to performing, we welcomed her warmly. It’s very good to see her on stage and doing her thing. Wonderful!

Her first poem with the riff Still I Sit reminiscent of, and a wonderful twist on, Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’, about feeling confined to a sickbed, and yearning to be free of the restrictions of illness and/or old age.

Her next poem had a similar theme, of a soul that’s tired and yearns for tranquillity, longs to fly away. She wants to reconnect with herself, find her missing parts, become whole once again. Poignant and beautifully expressed.

Vron – Sue said that Vron can turn her hand poetically to funny, love, sex, jammy dodgers and files. Vron read two new poems, the first, Ghosts, about Bilborough, describing how it was before it was built up, and the ghosts that are still there, how geography and patterns change.

Next, the showstopper Bus Ride to Heanor. Hilarious, exulting in the wonder and joy of small things – a number 28 bus ride to Heanor after a long period of being housebound, and then being able to get on a bus. ‘I could feel my style uncramp’. So good humoured, so gentle, so genial.

John

John Merchant, a DIY legend indeed. John’s style is quite different from anybody else’s. He began his set by singing three songs, some people joined in, Home in Pasadena, a Cliff Richard song, followed by April Love – for Valentine’s, of course.

John then gave us two poems of his own. Frist, Have a Choice, thinking about all the choices we have in life, John’s concern and care for others shining through with his gentle advice that we must also rest.

Then, Variety of Spice – a wonderful evocation of a world full of variety, a paean to multiculturalism and diversity of all kinds. John, always philosophical, reminds us there is so much to learn and to enjoy.

Sonja, our resident mathematical poet, read A Trigonometric Invasion or 10 sine (x/4) – (no, I don’t know what it means either). It’s a vision of school – I think Sonja teaches maths in school – where the kids are learning maths, a long poem, witty, punny and very funny, very touching and endearing, a fantasy battle the teachers have to get kids to understand maths.

Trevor

Trevor W, the Man from Derby – though he says he’s from Bulwell – gave us love poems. The first, Exit Wound, a rhyming poem expressing the sadness of the end of a relationship and the resulting damage – the hole in the heart that doesn’t heal.

Beached is a shaggy dog story, asked to picture the first thing that came to mind, a dog on a beach in Donegal sprang to Trevor’s head. And why wouldn’t it? Loved this poem, the scampiness of the dog on the beach, playing with the waves. A touching picture, a sad ending, Sometimes it’s better to leave the hounds of loss to their scurries.

Today, a poem about bigotry – a recurrent theme of Trevor’s, sad and angry about the backward step we seem to be taking, back into right wing intolerance (apologies to Tory voters, that’s how it seems to me, and obvs, to Trevor as well). He says ‘We can, and have, been better than this’ expresses perfectly so much that we have lost.

Stuart

Stuart knows Peru well. He went recently, and this latest time, went to the zoo. Trip to the Zoo describes different animals in captivity in the zoo, how a mono (monkey) and a man mirror each other’s behaviour, how a crocodrilo (crocodile) would like to get nearer children, mischievous portrayals of the animals.

She was Right, You Know is a rhyming poem about Stuart’s mum’s maxims, and how she was right, you know. She was right about it’s not what you know but who you know that will lead to success, that in sending kids to posh schools, people buy privilege for their children. Even so, she said – and she was right – we all piss in the same pot,

My Wife, She Dreams of Jürgen Klopp, a funny account of Stuart’s wife dreaming of Jürgen Klopp, except that Stuart was JK, and she says she wants to go back and dream some more. Stuart helpfully goes back to the washing up – I think it was maybe a hint and you should have joined her, Stuart!!!

Market Square, after the humour, a little bit of depression. A microscopic view of a vicar crossing Market Square, and a butcher’s, and the church bells ringing, writing with the kind of minuscule focus that happens when you are low. Sensitive, sensual, great.

Stuart didn’t want to leave us on a low note though, so Tent, a short four line poem about love in a tent made the audience go into the interval laughing.

INTERVAL

‘Let’s tip-toe through the chocolate box of wonder,’ said our second half host John Humphreys, and boy was he spot on! It was Valentine’s eve a fact that many of the performers reflected in their output.

The first of the open micers was Chloe, a first timer. What a joy to see newcomers with such skill and eloquence. Her first of two poems talked about remembrance with the line ‘remember the 4th February’, an instantly memorable line in itself. Her poignant second piece talked of Paris and loss.

Next up was Guy who gave us three beautifully lyrical poems with lines such as ‘shimmering aspen leaves.’ Most memorable of all was his final piece about the disputed ownership of a pair of shoes, where we learned that it was a metaphor of being a stranger to himself.

Rose

Rose was next to the mic treating us to, appropriately a love poem. In this case it was dedicated to her son in Australia, a reflection of teenage turbulence and beyond.

Peter

Peter, always understated and never less than brilliant gave us a love poem in the style of his favourite writer, Rumi. This was followed by a piece he wrote before getting the bus this very evening. He talked about separate lives and addresses, ending with the realisation that in the end we can only truly be ourselves.

Theresa

Theresa (another first timer) cautioned us beforehand that English was not her first language and we might not grasp all the meaning. In the eventuality she delivered a beautiful and eloquent piece in the style of George Orwell. Host John Humphreys, the man with a one-liner for every occasion commented ‘poetry is your language.’

Next to the stage was the exotically and wonderfully styled Vegan Jesus, another first timer. His first poem was a love letter to the crime thriller film ‘Drive’ which he has seen 14 times, followed by a series of 4 liners.

Pam kicked her set off with (what else) a valentine’s poem with beautiful imagery such as ‘tumbleweed, sidewinders and prickly pears.’ She followed this with the elegantly title ‘Days of annual leave spent writing poetry at home.’ Doesn’t this describe us all?

Richard

Richard is a poet who can be relied on to make an astute political point, illustrated in the title of his first piece ‘what’s wrong with this bloody country!’ What more do I need to say? His second piece, introduced as ‘a bit more of a piss take,’ took a poke at beaurocratic nonsense. ‘Dandy management bollocks job’ referenced jargon, transitioning and the uselessness of resistance in these matters. And finally, ‘heading home’ was a warm trip through memories of an old guitar and his record collection. A true homecoming.

Andrea gave us three poems. ‘Snow’ shared the transformation that takes place at a funeral with the intriguing imagery of ‘a cemetery deep in snow’. Her words implied that both poignancy and humour had a place in mourning.

And then to Lolly Dean our featured poet for the evening. She prefaced her performance with a trigger warning about loss, suicide and mental health issues.

Featured Poet Lolly

She started with ‘unknown soul’ which introduced us to her twin sister who she lost when young. ‘You’re with us wherever you are,’ she shared.

‘Hate’ was about bullying at school followed by ‘the parents’ which she introduced by explaining that ‘I wasn’t blessed in the parents department’.

My favourite line of the whole evening was from ‘James’s jabbering’ about her little brother – ‘it’s because of you I learnt how to hypnotise chickens’.

Next, we were introduced to her nan (a very important figure in her life) who had a saying for every occasion – ‘never have sex and no-one gets hurt’ and ‘women are strong, be proud to be one’. Reflecting on her not being around, her second Nan poem lamented ‘without you at the end of the phone what do I do now?’

She continued with the suicide of a friend (‘on that day’), austerity, her love affair with alcohol (dangerous liaisons) and a very good friend who lost her husband shortly after getting married.

For me one of Lolly’s most soul baring moments came with ‘the traumatic wake-up call’ which dealt with the horrors of finding blood on the floor. ‘This is what happens when the bottle’s your crutch,’ she said.

On a lighter note she ended her set with a confession to true love, none other than cookie dough ice cream. ‘Soppy bollocks’ as John Humphreys would say.

Everyone I spoke to afterwards agreed that Lolly’s set was powerful and heartfelt. Her words spoke of a life truly lived. A real tour de force.

The evening was rounded off by a musical set from Will Jeffery, one part of Nottingham band 94 Gunships. Performing stripped down versions of some of the band’s songs, my favourite told of watching a man dig a hole and then filling it in again.

Altogether a fab evening. Definitely a chocolate box of wonder.

Al Lane Zombie Poet Extraordinaire

Al Lane Zombie Poet Extraordinaire

By Marjie Griffiths

On Wednesday 13th November, the audience at Crosswords Open Mic were treated to a set from Nottingham’s zombie poet extraordinaire, Al Lane (a.k.a. Steve the Zombie). Now, you may be wondering what you get if you cross a zombie with a talented wordsmith …? Apparently, you get some powerfully effective advice on how to live life to the full!

Al is both engaging and warm. The self-deprecating humour that runs through his work makes him instantly relatable, as well as providing plenty of laughs. He never shies away from the big issues though; from mankinis to the current state of British politics, Al covers it all. Well … the mankini didn’t cover it all from the sound of things, but you get my drift.

The atmosphere that Al creates is a joy. But what of Steve? What of this terrifying alter ego of doom and decay? It turns out that he’s an alright bloke really! Just horribly misunderstood! Despite the rotting flesh and insatiable hunger for brains, Steve is disarmingly human. As he takes his audience through the highs and lows of zombie life, we get an insight into the highs and lows of our own. He speaks to the outsider in all of us. Knowing and incisive, Steve’s words leave us with the understanding that we’re all just a little bit monstrous. And that that’s totally ok.

DIY Poets Quarterly Showcase November 2019

DIY Poets Quarterly Showcase November 2019

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

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.

Sue Allen

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.

DIY Poets

Martin Grey

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!)

Neil

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…

Vron

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 Martin

Andrew Martin

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 S

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 Merchant

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.

Birgit

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 Humphreys

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.

William Kummer

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”.

Kevin Jackson

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]

National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Day 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.

National Poetry Day 2019
Dwane Reads: Photo Fraser Youngson

 

Joy Rice: Photo Fraser Youngson

More event photos (Photo credit Fraser Youngson)

Article by Pauline Black and Martin Grey, courtesy of Nottingham City of Literature.

 

DIY Poets at City Arts August 2019

DIY Poets at City Arts August 2019

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.
DIY Poets at City Arts August 2019
£3 entry

For ages 18+. Wheelchair accessible. Hearing loop available. Gender neutral toilet. Accessible toilet.

Grassroots poetry at its best.

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DIY Poets At The Edinburgh Fringe

DIY Poets At The Edinburgh Fringe

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.

DIY Poets At The Edinburgh Fringe
DIY Poets. Grassroots Poetry at its Best

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]

DIY Showcase At The Maze 9th May 2019

DIY Showcase At The Maze 9th May 2019

[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.

DIY Showcase At The Maze 9th May 2019

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.

DIY Showcase At The Maze 9th May 2019

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.

 

DIY Showcase At The Maze 9th May 2019Will 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


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