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Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords is a fab little Nottingham-based spoken word open mic night with plenty of open mic slots and a featured poet every month! In April, we have Aoife O’Connor, Emericana Desouza and Jo Lewis from She Speaks as our special guests!

She Speaks UK is a monthly performance space in the East Midlands hosted by Aoife, Emericana and Jo. It’s an inclusive and supportive safe space promoting and platforming female, trans, non-binary & femme-identifying artists. Events are female-led but not female exclusive with an open mic for all genders and an open audience. The co-founders are proud to hold a space where first-time performers are warmly encouraged, yet perform alongside well-established headliners.

She Speaks was founded in 2017 with the tagline “Art Is Our Liberation” and has since collaborated with organisations including International Women’s Day Festival Derby, LGB-QWERTY, Artcore, Furthest From The Sea, Nottingham Contemporary and Derby Women’s Centre. She Speaks has hosted as part of the Derby Poetry Festival in 2017, featuring the Trinidadian poet Shivanee Ramlochan and again in 2018, featuring Bristol based poet Vanessa Kisuule.

In 2018 the collective began reaching out to more groups in their community through facilitating workshops including creative writing & performance skills for young people as well as craftivism for women & girls.

Arrive at the Cock and Hoop from 7:30pm on the night to put your name in the hat for a short open mic slot. We like poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues! Or you can just come along to listen – everyone’s welcome! Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available.


The She Speaks Founders, Jo, Em and Aoife.

NB. There are twelve steps to access this venue.

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords is a fab little Nottingham-based spoken word open mic night with plenty of open mic slots and a featured poet every month! In February, we’re really excited to welcome Christopher Lanyon as our guest poet!

Christopher is a mathematician, poet and trash-human. (His words, not ours!) Originally from Cornwall, he is slowly making his way northwards and hopes to be freezing to death in the North Sea by 2025. He has supported Holly McNish, Mark Grist and Luke Wright and run and hosted events as part of the Nottingham Poetry Festival. He runs Psst., a poetry summer series in Nottingham and also hosts Clickbait, the University of Nottingham Poetry and Spoken Word Society’s poetry night. His favourite things are coffee and feelings and sad guitar music and noses and heartwarming father-son redemption narratives and polysyndeton.‬

Arrive at the Cock and Hoop from 7:30pm on the night to put your name in the hat for a short open mic slot. We like poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues! Or you can just come along to listen – everyone’s welcome! Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available.

Christopher Lanyon

NB. There are eleven steps to access this venue.

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords is a fab little Nottingham-based spoken word open mic night with plenty of open mic slots and a featured poet every month! In December, we really excited to welcome Nafeesa Hamid as our guest poet!

Nafeesa Hamid is a British Pakistani poet and playwright. She is an alumnus of Mouthy Poets and Derby Theatre Graduate Associate Artists. She has performed at Cheltenham and Manchester Lit Fests as part of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a recent (2017) anthology, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. She was a BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam finalist in 2018. Nafeesa’s debut poetry collection ‘Besharam’ (2018) is now available from Verve Poetry Press.

Arrive at the Cock and Hoop from 7:30pm on the night to put your name in the hat for a short open mic slot. We like poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues! Or you can just come along to listen – everyone’s welcome! Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available.

NB. There are eleven steps to access this venue.

Poet and Playwright, Nafeesa Hamid
Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords is a fab little Nottingham-based spoken word open mic night with plenty of open mic slots and a featured poet every month!

In November, we really excited to welcome Ioney Smallhorne as our guest poet!

Ioney is a writer and poet based in Nottingham. When performing she’s occasionally funny, at times vulnerable, tends to blend the political with the personal – but she’s always Ioney. When not writing poems, she’s failing her motorbike test, growing vegetables, travelling and trying to learn Italian. Currently studying a MA in Creative Writing & Education at Goldsmiths University London, Ioney is a First Story workshop facilitator, a film maker and enjoys translating her poems to the screen.

Arrive at the Cock and Hoop from 7:30pm on the night to put your name in the hat for a short open mic slot. We like poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues! Or you can just come along to listen – everyone’s welcome! Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available. There are eleven steps to access this venue.

For more information, check out our facebook event page:

Dark Water – Halloween Storytelling

Dark Water – Halloween Storytelling

A special Halloween canal voyage filled with ghostly stories and terrible tall tales from the waterways gruesome past.

For the first time in Nottingham we want to send you on a sinister journey along the dark canal with Leanne Moden. The thirty-minute journey will be filled with fantastic fables and mysterious myths of the strange people and creatures who call the waterways their home. For this night only you will visit the spooky watery dwellings where your imagination will be fired by the depth of dark mystery led by our storyteller on a journey you will never forget.

Suitable for over 16 and not for the faint hearted.

Boats set off from outside the courthouse on the canal towpath, access is via Wilford Road or Carrington Street, NG2 1EE.

Tickets are £5 per person and the event is funded by Arts Council England.

Tickets via eventbrite 

Further information on Facebook

Spooky stuff!
Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords Open Mic

Crosswords is a fab little Nottingham-based spoken word open mic night with plenty of open mic slots and a featured poet every month!

In October, we’re teaming up with We Shall Overcome, a fantastic grassroots movement that raises money and awareness for anti-austerity causes. We’ll be raising money for Inspire Nottingham – a fantastic charity that supports adults with learning difficulties in the greater Nottingham area.

We’ll have a headline slot from brilliant Yorkshire-based poet and activist Henry Raby. Raised on a steady diet of punk music, his poetry is a combination of angry and unruly verse on feminism, anarchism and protest movements mixed with tender insights into community, friendship and the tricky art of growing up. His performance style is an anarchic and energetic tumble from cartoons and comics to politics and dinosaurs. His first poetry collection, Nerd Punk, was released through Burning Eye Books in April 2018.

Henry has gigged across the UK at spoken word nights, festival stages, cafes, libraries and living rooms. In 2015 he was commissioned by Apples & Snakes as part of their Public Address Tour. Henry is Artistic Director of Say Owt, a spoken word-promoting organisation, and is co-director of Vandal Factory Theatre Company.

Arrive at the Cock and Hoop from 7:30pm on the night to book your short open mic slot. We like poetry, prose, storytelling, a cappella singing, and monologues! Or you can just come along to listen – everyone’s welcome! Entry is £2 per person and refreshments are available.

Henry Raby being awesome
Just Another DIY Night At The Maze

Just Another DIY Night At The Maze

Review of DIY Poets Showcase At The Maze May 10th 2018

by Jake Wildeman and Martin Grey

‘Just another DIY night at the Maze’… there’s two things wrong with that phrase. The first being ‘just’. This venue is a deeply special place, one of the most intimate you might find in Nottingham. Whether you’re here for music or poetry, you’ll find that there’s no barrier between performer and audience… it’s a wonderful feeling. The second problem is ‘another DIY night’. That makes it sound terribly unassuming. In fact, this was our thirtieth quarterly gig at the Maze, and rather a standout in my humble opinion. Opened warmly by the lovely first time compere Gwen Smith, it was underway.

Martin Grey

Martin Grey was the first poet called on and, much in the spirit of celebration, he revealed that five years ago to the day was his very first open mic performance, at this very event no less. He happily brought the audience into his initial piece, ‘The Night Beelzebub Went to the Pub’, asking for our participation before launching the poem itself. To surmise, it was traditional Martin… this is a man who I am not afraid to call punny as hell, but it was also a deliciously relatable and humanising look at the devil you know. Following up from that came an improvised poem titled ‘A History of Love’, which was without a doubt both skillfully crafted and shockingly affecting as much as it was entertaining, and a fine argument for more improvisation in poetry.

Next to the stage was the incredible Alistair Lane, who stepped straight into his opening poem. Here, Al was at his most romantic, weaving beautiful lines expressing almost painful longing, “My spark that jumps the synapse wants to jump to yours”, and ending on the affirmation that “love means making that connection with one, poetry with the many”. Naturally, it was then time for something completely different. ‘How Rude’ was a delightful piece with plenty of warm humour and just enough edge to appeal to everyone, serving as the middle ground between Al’s heart and his wonderfully comedic mind. He closed with the single greatest animal-focused title/refrain that you will ever encounter: ‘My Cat’s a Sexy Motherfucker’. Just try to argue with that.

After Al came a first time performer at the Maze and a recently inducted member of DIY, Jesse Freeman. This amazing young woman’s set was punctuated by her beliefs as an outspoken anarchist, and all the more powerful for it. First came ‘To Vote or Not to Vote…’, then ‘JC or Tory?’, both staggeringly even looks at modern politics and how the strings are being pulled on our “Pinnochio parliament”. Her third piece, though, was perhaps the longest and most impactful of the night. Titled ‘The Fucking Rant’, and initially started as a joke, this piece carried into a legitimate tirade against all the injustices of the world. It was proof that something seemingly meaningless can become all-encompassing, and that wisdom need not be eloquent… especially not with all those f-bombs!

Clare Stewart

Following Jesse was the delightful Clare Stewart, who began with what she described as ‘a very depressing poem’. It was indeed bleak, containing the absolutely agonising refrain “he drove in silence”. Doubling down on misery with her second piece, she went on to present a crushing portrait of a man whose dreams of writing simply cannot become real. To close, however, she chose ‘Oil Rig Woman’… a new-ish piece, with a delightful narrative and some wonderful imagery, focused on pool swimming conventions and respect for an immovable object. Having heard it a few times, I can safely say that it stays just as amusing.

To finish our first of three halves was Andrew Martin who, unusually, chose to do a non-political set but, as is his natural law, was wearing a waistcoat. The piece he chose, and indeed it was just the one, was titled ‘Nuclear Family’, and remained in his well-honed stream-of-consciousness style yet covered issues I’ve never heard from him before. Playing like a poetical autobiography, it was truly a beautiful shift from my expectations and was deeply touching to behold.

The warm atmosphere continued to thaw out the cup cakes that “might still be frozen” according to the aforementioned Clare Stewart, whose daughter Miranda had kindly baked them for us. Thirty cakes for the thirtieth gig at The Maze were now going fast.

Frank McMahon

There was only one person to kick off the second half, the only one of us who’d been to all thirty shows, Frank McMahon, who was in a good mood after seeing Wolves promoted back to the Premier League. “Jesus Saves”, inspired by a placard he saw in their celebration parade, told of how Jesus can save for a house deposit but for most of us it’s like turning water into wine. Using cycling, hot air balloons and Jude the Obscure, his poems meandered through gender inequality, the fear of performing from memory, real friendship and an episode of The Detectorists where they found a Status Quo badge.  A back of the net performance.

Daron Carey gets better every time you see him. With his shoulders spread wide and a voice that would project all the way to Finland, Daron confidently strode through two great poems. His fixed faced members of a travelling circus, the “Circus Symposium”, were a metaphor overload of struggle, harmony and living off gratitude, from the first fish to walk to Constantinople to Santiago the Serbian chef. For his second poem we spent time with two men, one his destiny, the other who he wants to be, and a childhood soaked in parallax. Daron’s words grabbed you and didn’t let go, we hope he comes back soon!
Jake Wildeman was next, our self proclaimed “poetry goblin” and a young guy with words well ahead of his years. His first poem took us into the minds of humans who don’t try to be human, where emotions are prohibited and imperfect urges threaten their rationality. Men with scythes and cheques who ride different coloured horses filled his second piece, “Horsemen”, a vivid allegory of our continual destruction of the world. Jake performed with a real humanity that contrasted with the lack of humanity depicted in his poems, delivering a set with real emotional depth.
John Merchant always improves your mood and tonight was no different. His poems often come in pairs, a secular version and a Christian version, tonight’s pair exploring the essence of our moral compass and faith. “For If” gave advice on how to find your peace of mind and then help others find theirs, while “Face It” told us how getting over problems will lead to better things and that most fears will never come to pass. John’s staccato lines and frequent rhymes were a real pleasure to listen to, leading to a fine performance all round.
Our final feature act of this half was Fay Deller, a strong female voice, which we like very much here at DIY Poets. In a very personal and powerful set, “Empire Windrush” told of her Windrush generation partner being coldly informed of their deportation in a citizens review, how after being integral to the rebuilding of the country they’re now told their welcome has been exceeded. Using direct references to the “No Irish, no dogs” days of yesteryear, she left you with a strong sense of injustice in your mouth. Her second poem, “Chances”, beautifully captured what can go through your mind when you have suicidal thoughts. Fay’s words made you really glad you were there to hear them, it was a great performance.
We also like an open mic at DIY Poets and were pleased to see a mix of nine new and regular performers ready to take to the stage. Laura kicked off with “Baby to Be”, a lovely little poem about two friends who will soon be first time mothers. Lolly Dean followed with a heartfelt tale of how kids don’t always bounce back as well as it’s claimed they do, with vivid images of getting bullied for receiving a free dinner and taking the longest way home from school expertly laced through the poem. She finished with “Parents”, about parents who wanted to have their kids taken away. A very touching, personal and relatable set. Then it was Ros, with a stage entry and mic freeing in one seamless motion, whose high energy hit you like a whirlwind and whose poem about recording bipolar disorder on a scale blew right into your social conscience. “I’m a six today, it must be the Prozac”.
Joy Rice brought the Nottingham dialect to the stage in “Bath Time in Basford”, when bath time was watching TV in a tin bath in the living room before drying out on an old Evening Post (now Nottingham Post). She then told us how her husband didn’t want to go on a cruise, so they compromised and went to Southwold instead. It were reet funneh midducks and nobody had a cob on afterwards.
Gwen Smith
Gwen Smith then celebrated how maths books look to complex universal questions in “Higher Maths”, then read a lovely little poem about how we change as birthdays pass, from our skin and teeth to our perspectives. “No more misery, please!” then shouted John Humphreys, referencing his recent forays into very dark poems. Instead, he offered us “entertaining misery” in his best Southern American drawl, about a fading devil riding hell’s lost highway and sinking the whiskey of the lonesome. Marvellous stuff.

Light and dark was Hazel Warren’s theme, first pondering how the darkness makes you feel and how to hide yourself within it, then pondering what happens to the fridge light when the door closes and how its glow makes you feel in “Midnight Snack”. Alex, aka Motormouf, said it was great that DIY Poets were still doing their thing after so long, then preached peace over guns with some excellent rhymes. It felt like he was only on stage for a moment, but his energy, support and positivity were very welcomed. Tish Tunbridge closed our open mic with two tiny poems, firstly about an old camper van that used to be her freedom, then a playful take on how we gather. “We gather our treasures near us, we gather we can make a difference.” Short and sweet poetry that hit the spot.

Every open micer was great and we hope to see them all again soon! We then came to our featured poet of the night, the incredible Sue Allen. What can I say about Sue Allen? Well, she is quite simply one of the most wonderful human beings I have encountered… so full of life, so terrifically and, I dare say, terrifyingly vital… she lives, exists and puts everything she has into existence. That is my summation of this amazing woman, and I’ve nothing but admiration towards her for that. She covered Sting, walking us across the face of the moon with a singing voice that wasn’t perfect but was undeniably real, human and made the words all the more genuine for it. She then moved into a mix of new and old works that could only be pinned together by the fact that they were very much ‘Sue’. ‘Monkey Mind’, with it’s fittingly foul language, ‘Meg’s Arse’, a hilarious show of storytelling that was short but honestly needed to be no longer, ‘About Growing Old’, which had a terrific flow and genuinely fearsome threat that she’ll “turn you into a slimy toad”!  Her newer poems, or at least those I hadn’t heard before, tended towards a more surreal bent. ‘Interruptions to a Quiet Night In’ was a stellar display of imagery, both unusual and disturbing, while ‘Inspired by My Garden’ painted a vibrant picture of an unholy shrubbery and a demonic rabbit. Seemed rather Pythonesque to me. Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention ‘The Nine-Fingered Knife Jugglers of Derby’… let’s be honest, you only need hear the title to be intrigued. Her final few pieces were very much classics, including what I consider a trilogy: ‘Inflatable Man’ with it’s singalong segment, ‘Plastic Man’ with it’s loving contrast to the former, and the closing ‘Mankini Man’ filled with cringe-inducing pictures you can’t help but laugh at. All in all, Sue Allen was Sue Allen… the finest poet to’ve ever emerged from the depths of Mansfield, and perhaps even the only.

After that last assault on my status as a member of the male sex, we welcomed our musical guest… the poet Frank McMahon! Frank played us some beautiful instrumental pieces on his acoustic guitar, engaging with the audience between each to speak on his influences and provide context for the works he covered. It was the perfect way to close the DIY celebration, with a DIY musician.


DIY Poets Nottingham Night Light

DIY Poets Nottingham Night Light

Reviewed by Sue Allen and Frank McMahon

Moany Mood
DIY poets at Nottingham Night Light was a game of three halves. We’re poets not mathematicians, with a theme of light and dark. The interpretations were free, wide ranging, poetic and creative.
DIY Poets Nottingham Night Light
Although the audience was small the atmosphere was large and both increased steadily as the night went on.
John Merchant kicked us off with a contemplation of those times when you fall flat into a “moany mood” in the mist of joy. He expressed his thoughts in rhyme from both a secular and Christian perspective.
Barbara followed with poem by Grace Nicholls about the best of life from a woman’s viewpoint “A woman with all my lines strung out like pearls before me” And what pearls Barbara gave us including the thoughts of Jack Dee “That’s what’s wrong with me, I’m a comedian!” Speaking as a poet I could well relate to that sentiment
Martin explored the philosophical yin and yang of light and dark, giving us an exploration of the concept of future aspirations “next time we’ll get it right.” The importance of supporting a friend when “it’s been a bad time” and the necessity of always having the right glasses even if it is just out of habit.

Hazel led us into the second section festooned with lights, her first offering “Midnight Snack” contemplating such questions as does the light in the fridge really go out when we shut the door, and the way that illumination temps us in. Her contemplation on the safety of darkness made me tingle as she explored the solitude and security that the night can convey. Her final poem about Tim Peak’s dreams of free floating sleep in space and his desire to shun being strapped down. All three; thought provoking and clever interpretations of our theme.

Man Wanted For Casual Market Stall Erection
Sue described herself as an angry feminist poet but there was a lot of humour in her poems as well. She describes how an ad innocently wanted a “man for casual market stall erection.” She described “ladies of the night” with their “enamelled armour” who will “scratch the back of their next opportunity.” Funny and memorable.

Coming Out
John Humphries looked at the fine line between poetry and song writing. He had great fun “coming out” as a fan of country music, and exploring the accidental poetry to be found in listing song titles giving us such gems as “Did I shave my legs for this” and “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?” He went on to treat us all to his own interpretation of the genre with a beautiful piece about love and shared experience worthy of any country ballad.
DIY Poets Nottingham Night Light

Frank gave us a soulful series of poems exploring the light and dark of the human condition, ranging from our need for solitude, the frailty of addiction, the resentment of heavenly bodies sharing the same space, and the heartbreak of the Hillsborough disaster and the media reaction.
Leanne finished off this set with two poems looking at friendship and love. In the first: “Night Climbing” she offers us her hands as a step-up, enabling us to “heave your body skywards and watch the stars come out.”
In her second: “Star Struck” she gives us the wonderful line “the patterns in the cosmos match the freckles on your face.” Which I think is the best romantic line I’ve heard in a long time.

DIY Poets Nottingham Night Light
Leanne Moden performing

The third “half” was dedicated to the lovely Kevin Jackson’s book launch and rounded off with a lively open mic.

Reach Through The Entangled Darkness
Kevin’s book “Touching You” is a wonderful expression of love, life, and humanity in all its diversity. He has a light touch which carries your heart along with him. I totally enjoyed his weaving of tales of love, and spiritual connections which crossed the boundaries of time and expectations. He has a way of reaching out with kindness and compassion which holds the listener and the poetic subject gently in his words. In the title poem, he dares us to “reach through the entangled darkness” and reminds us that “the needle only finds music when it remembers.” Long may his music play on as he continues to find his groove of creativity.

DIY Poets Nottingham Night Light

DIY Poets At the Maze 10th November 2016

DIY Poets At the Maze 10th November 2016

First half reviewed by John Humphreys:

Slightly disappointing audience numbers were more than made up for by the quality of the poetry on display. Opening with Lytisha who announced she had no politics and miserable poems the first called Anxiety and full of “what ifs”. Last Biscuit had a perfect economy telling of brothers being naughty but always missed. Of the other poems, one set in a library with a ‘chid in a big chair on her own private island’ was sprinkled with magic, a great set, proving misery can also be beauty.
Andrew our host gave us a bad joke so moving on to Kevin wearing a striking mohair protest jumper (sometimes you have to mention the clothes) he graced us with striking imagery in his anti-war poems. Life’s a Memory had its ‘sun starved colour’ while others ‘froze in charcoal’ and White Stretched in Stone had its ‘ceremony of tears’ whilst in Back to it ‘young faces march out to die again’. It is not the necessarily the familiar events that move us but these striking images that linger as new paintings in the mind.
Martin Dean gave a fresh take on Guy Fawkes, appropriately describing him as “the only honest person to enter parliament”. Great images and lines abound again with ‘I’m going to write a fire’ and where ‘November breath hangs like wool in the air’. This was followed by a medical text poem set “within the golden chamber” with the ‘journey of a golden tear’ and ‘tattered skeleton orphan song’, very stirring stuff that highlights Martin’s winning streak with words.
Next up is Gwen A relatively new and very welcome new female voice to DIY who writes of gardening and cutting off stem heads as metaphor for the rituals and intimacies of human relations, then ‘Blowhole’ and the stuck life of her mother in Herne Bay where “you know you’ve been beached”. Then to return to the garden for what Andrew rightly described as a “mesmeric account” of more ritual, revisiting the same characters of her first poem. Hurrah for these refreshing new perspectives from an obviously talented poet.
Then for something completely different with Martin Grey and friend AKA From The Word Go where its all in the hat and a clever, funny checkout riff where the machine has its own voice ‘disapproval needed’ – you had to be there I think I’d need to say at this point. If I say the set had a tale of a kitchen vigilante and another with a washing machine, including the line ‘tumble when its dryer’, you get the sense of the madcap comic antics at play. Definitely a crowd pleaser.
Last but never least in the first half was Claire starting with a favourite of mine in ‘Peace-nick’ with its ‘blossoming anger’, then moving into dreams and nightmares held in the forests of childhood with Terror. Bob Dylan’s misogyny was the flip side to his Noble Prize for Literature for the man with wives and mistresse in ‘the harem of the God’ – ouch! A new one ‘He drove in Silence’ unleashed the difficulty of father / daughter relationships to devastating effect and then more of this with ‘Sisters in Recovery’ hoping and wanting for a sister. As always it’s her slow detailed observance of everyday life that packs such a big punch.
An excellent first half full of quality in all its varied guises and alternative voices from such distinctive and distinguished poets.

Second half reviewed by Kevin Jackson:

John Humphreys started the second half with a bang, confronting the theme of citizen v the state in a heartfelt poem called “Not waving but drowning”. This poem cast a painfully sharp light on the battle for benefits on behalf of his brother summed up in the line “stripped naked in the headlights of the world”.
John followed this with an intensely personal poem called “Invisible”. Built of 3 sections featuring legendary monsters, hawks and rocks the poem conveyed not so much an individual feeling invisible as an entire world slipping out of sight, “almost extinct”, vanishing under “silted layers of time”.
To buy John’s outstanding poetry collection The Day I Swallowed the World, please contact him via DIY Poets.
The next poet was John Merchant. John’s first poem “Mind Existence” begins with the oft-quoted “we are what we eat”, teases out the implications of this idea and ends with the characteristically witty “which sort of turns the mind of its head”.
John concluded with the poem “Health Wealth” which uses the theme of money to focus on our values: “Where your heart is, that’s where you spend”. The poem ends with a direct appeal to individuals and politicians: “Consider us, make it fit”.
Frank McMahon, DIY Poet’s inspiring founder, was the next poet up. Frank took us through a pacy set of short poems, linked through their use of fantastical imagery. “Alcohol”, “Behind the curtain” (using a Wizard of Oz image to explore real friendship), “Spiderman versus Superman” and “The Hulk” (a look at masculinity gone wrong). In “Jack and the Beanstalk” the poet surveys childhood disappointments, concluding wryly: “The beanstalk was all talk”. Transience/aging was the theme of “Elastic Bangle”, (? not sure of title….), told through a collection of once-prized bangles drying out, breaking.
In “Dr Who Childhood” Frank shows a child’s view of parental arguments, including the chilling line: “She may as well have been screaming exterminate, exterminate”
The set ended with “House of Sweets”, a thoughtful look at addiction using the Hansel & Gretel story: “In no time at all there was no road to follow”.
The next poet Trevor Wright began with a topical poem “Ode to Donald”. Using the theme of brick-laying (“tamp it and tamp it until it’s flat”), Trevor revealed the hidden cost of building walls between us: “Bastard wall, encasing our hearts”.
Trevor followed this by reading a powerful poem by Brian Bilston called “America is a Gun”.
The next poem, gloriously titled “Today’s rain becomes tomorrow’s spirit” wove a number of themes including storms and story-writing to encourage communitarian values: “Together we can weather these storms”… (but) “first we have to write ourselves a greater story”.
Stephen Thomas, stalwart of the Leicester poetry scene and co-host of Nottingham’s Poetry’s Dead Good, fired into a wonderfully energetic set with “You’re Awesome”.
A real life-affirming, high-energy poem, “You’re Awesome” reminds us “You were born a champion” and no matter what they throw at us “you’re the best version of you that says thank God I’m alive”.
In “Muddled Man” Stephen takes a sharp look at men who can’t take care of themselves: “You could charge 5p for those bags under your eyes”.
“Alphabet Spaghetti” is a book in progress comprising crisp, highly alliterative poems on each letter of the alphabet. V “Vote Vlad” imagines a vampire seeking our support. T’s “Twitter Troll called Tony” turns out to be 12. Watch this space for news of the book launch!
“For the record” celebrates all things vinyl (a passion of this reviewer), the romance of the record. It does so brilliantly by turning the tables, being written from the turntable’s viewpoint: “Entire cultures of people I’m moving”, ending “For the record, I’m for the record”.
For more of Leicester’s spoken word scene check out House of Verse
Andrew Martin of DIY Poets was Featured Poet for this night. Opening his set, Andrew shared that “standing on stage you bare your soul” and told us that he wrote his first poem 10 years ago about a soldier killed in Iraq.
“Trump et cetera” launched the set using a children’s song to bring Trump down to size. “Time” developed chain-like to explore the personal and social aspects of time, moving from seasonal change via time travel to industrialisation requiring a standard definition of time. “Food Fight” wittily charts the decline of supermarkets like Tesco “Marmite jars are missing”. “Rhapsody of Realities” looks at those faiths which “mission” by giving out booklets, picturing these as a version of junkmail and warning “There’s no such thing as a free last supper”.
Andrew continued with “Badger Culling Trial” a sober poem viewing the countryside as a courtroom in which the badger is on trial. The poem probes the subject, posing many questions “Is it a black and white situation?” In “Two by two” the poet ranges over many situations where people operate in pairs including police on the beat (perfectly pointed by Andrew sporting what appeared to be a old-style police helmet that actually said Not Polite”). The poem ends darkly looking at prisoners: “Silent sentences throughout each long hour”.
“BHS British Hopes Stalled” takes Philip “Greed” to task with more of Andrew’s trade-mark rhetorical questions: “When did greed become fashionable?” “Mohammed Ali” explores Ali’s long and complex history as a fighter for social justice and the link between fighting and poetry.
“I Daniel Blake” takes its inspiration from the Ken Loach film to remind us of what it should mean to be a citizen.
Andrew rounded off a magnificent headline set with “Poet’s Day”, a survey of workers and working pondering the significance of Friday as the start of a weekend’s rest.
Andrew’s poems are vigorous, democratic not preachy, making statements, asking questions, highlighting patterns to which the listener can react.





  • Frank McMahon’s latest book launch, “I Wish I Could Play Guitar Like Rory Gallagher” @ Nottingham Writers’ Studio – Friday, April 22nd, 7:30 start, £1

  • DIY POETS Quarterly gig @ The Maze, May 19th, featuring the mighty Hazel Warren, music from Paul Carbuncle, 7:45 start, £3 entry, a bargain!

  • Southwell folk festival welcomes a Diy poets showcase on June 11th, 1:00, followed by representation in the poetry slam the following day at 2:30

  • DIY POETS @ Rough Trade Nottingham, Thursday, June 30th, 7:30 start, with music from Stacey McMullen, £3

  • DIY POETS @ Buxton Fringe Festival, July 21st, details and times to be confirmed, 8 DIYers plus Keith Ford and Miggy Angel

  • DIY POETS @ The Lofthouse – Cancer Awareness Event July 22nd, 2:00 onwards – Details TBC

  • DIY POETS @ Lenton Festival – Saturday July 30th – Details to follow

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