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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 Host Sheffield Poets @ The Lofthouse in ‘Lace and Steel’ on Jan 31st, 3:00 to 6:00

DIY POETS Host Sheffield Poets @ The Lofthouse in ‘Lace and Steel’ on Jan 31st, 3:00 to 6:00

Lace and Steel Loft House final PDFDIY POETS endured a full on brolly buster back in October 2015, when they travelled to Sheffield to take part in WORD DROP, a fringe festival event at the Hop Hideout Beer Shop. Poets mingled on wooden benches supping craft ales, listening to a Stranglers album on audiocassette, the perfect antidote to the rain pelting down beyond the beer shop doors. Some fine poetry got read, some from Nottingham, the rest from Sheffield, and a mutual respect was born.

Well, it’s the turn of DIY POETS to host, so on Sunday 31th January between 3:00 and 6:00, at the Lofthouse, ‘Lace and Steel’ will join forces again to bring a poetry experience to savour, poets from Sheffield travelling down to Nottingham.

There will be music and song from Stacey McMullen.

I hope they bring the Stranglers cassette down from Sheffield, and if it rains we won’t be bothered.

DIY POETS Quarterly Gig @ The Maze, Nottingham, Thurs 11th Feb 2016, 7:45

DIY POETS Quarterly Gig @ The Maze, Nottingham, Thurs 11th Feb 2016, 7:45

DIY maze Feb 2016 blake depp FINAL pdfAs featured in today’s Nottingham Evening Post, and fresh from the exertions of Nottingham Poetry Festival, mingling with the likes of Henry Normal and Lemn Sissay, and from jumping on stage to perform at any given opportunity, DIY POETS are back on home turf at the Maze.
So, to sample some very fine poetry, from a diverse and colourful line up, covering every subject under the sun, from potatoes to Donald Trump, although the difference there is not great, from bass players to unruly technology, from chocolate bunnies to mobile phones, from romance to psychedelia, it’s kaleidoscopic, a sonic tonic for the chronic cynic, and also too for innocent bystanders who only came in for a quiet pint.
Headlining is the metrical maestro, Leanne Moden, who has the knack of pulling you right into her dazzling breeze of words. Don’t miss.
And stay around to check out POP ORCHESTRA, our music act.

DIY POETS Quarterly Gig @ The Maze, Nottingham, Thurs 11th Feb 2016 – 7:45 pm

DIY POETS Quarterly Gig @ The Maze, Nottingham, Thurs 11th Feb 2016 – 7:45 pm

DIY maze Feb 2016 blake depp FINAL pdfAs featured in today’s Nottingham Evening Post, and fresh from the exertions of Nottingham Poetry Festival, mingling with the likes of Henry Normal and Lemn Sissay, and from jumping on stage to perform at any given opportunity, DIY POETS are back on home turf at the Maze.
So, to sample some very fine poetry, from a diverse and colourful line up, covering every subject under the sun, from potatoes to Donald Trump, although the difference there is not great, from bass players to unruly technology, from chocolate bunnies to mobile phones, from romance to psychedelia, it’s kaleidoscopic, a sonic tonic for the chronic cynic, and also too for innocent bystanders who only came in for a quiet pint.
Headlining is the metrical maestro, Leanne Moden, who has the knack of pulling you right into her dazzling breeze of words. Don’t miss.
And stay around to check out POP ORCHESTRA, our music act.

DIY POETS’ Splendid Day Out

DIY POETS’ Splendid Day Out

Write up by Lytisha:

Photo by Keith Turner
Photo by Keith Turner

On Saturday 18th July, DIY Poets shared the bill with James, The Specials and Bananarama, amongst others. We took to the stage at Splendour Festival, Wollaton Park. Okay, not the main stage, but we let Roots Manuva use that to warm our audience up.

Andy Szpuk introduced the set on the Fringe stage and we found the audience to be in fine voice through a bit of call and response audience participation. Next, Clare Stewart took everyone on an exhausting and squelchy walk through Scottish heather, heather, heather before leaving us to relax with a smooth whisky. Music was the theme of Frank McMahon’s trio of poems. It wasn’t all about the bass, ‘bout the bass, but also exploring the reactions to guardian angels in leather and denim as well as comments on Johnny Cash’s sartorial choices.

Next was Lytisha with her poems looking at relationships, both with people and food stuffs. John Humphreys embarked on an uncharacteristically short introduction, (he even kept within the allocated time slot and didn’t even need the ting of enlightenment!) to his poem celebrating all things Ska.

Trevor Wright took us into the home straight with cautionary tale of the migrating pink toed tarantula. Finally Captain Andy Szpuk was back and not only was Poetry Airlines literally launched containing poems from the Flight Attendants Richard C Bower, Hazel Warren, Chris Page and other DIY Poets, but the Best of DIY Poets book was launched too, and managed some chunky sales.

A great day all around and a fabulous audience.

DIY Poets would like to thank DHP for booking us and providing a super stage and sound man. Thanks too to Keith Turner for the photos and video.

If you missed it you can catch us and get your copies of Best of DIY Poets at The Maze on Thursday 13th August from 8pm.

Clare Stewart
Clare Stewart (photo by Keith Turner)

 

 Frank McMahon (photo by Keith Turner)
Frank McMahon (photo by Keith Turner)

 

 Lytisha (photo by Keith Turner)
Lytisha (photo by Keith Turner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11018374_1026863840687586_478294994660531431_n
Trevor Wright

 

Richard C Bower and Hazel Warren (Photo by Keith Turner)
Richard C Bower and Hazel Warren (Photo by Keith Turner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Szpuk, launching Poetry Airlines (photo by Keith Turner)
Andy Szpuk, launching Poetry Airlines (photo by Keith Turner)
DIY POETS at The Maze – May 14th – Spoken Word At It’s Finest!

DIY POETS at The Maze – May 14th – Spoken Word At It’s Finest!

However many billions UK politicians pledge to put aside to fund the NHS, even when the election is over, it’ll still only cost £3 to see DIY POETS perform at the Maze, and that includes a free copy of the latest magazine! The evening will conclude with live music from Louis Antoniou.

That’s our manifesto, pretty straightforward really.

Review DIY Poets Thursday 12 February 2015

Review DIY Poets Thursday 12 February 2015

Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha

By Clare Stewart and Lytisha

DIY POETS Maze gig 12th February 2015. Another great evening at the Maze, congratulations to all who read. It was fantastic that we had equal numbers of men and women. And nice to have some newcomers in amongst the old-timers…

Grace. Great set of poems for her first time at a diy gig. With honest and universal themes, she spoke about the evil in us all, but compassionately conceded that we’re all going through a hard time. (And ain’t that a fact!) Grace made a new year resolution to be a truer version of herself, and that seems to me to be the flight of stairs we poets are all trying to scramble up, so welcome to the party, Grace! Her last poem ruefully refused to tell us why she has a smile on her face, and I’m still wondering…

Steve R:   Another first timer on the DIY stage and new to Nottingham, Steve, read his poem which conjured images of drugs, lost loves and the experiences of youth. Steve has only been writing a few months, but gave a confident rendition of his poem questioning allegiance of the furious flying fists with great alliteration and passion. We’re looking forward to hearing more in the future from Steve.

Alice S has been a part of diy for a few months but this was her first performance with us. She has set herself the task of writing a poem a day for a year, and is putting them up on her blog. Great thing to do. Okay, I have to admit to not knowing what a blog is, so have been on a little self-teaching journey and have found Alice’s blog https://aliceshortpoetry.wordpress.com It’s well worth a visit, too much to read in one sitting, and deals with, oh, so many ideas. Alice has a great poetry voice, and the poems she read at the Maze bear reading over again and thinking about. Her tagline is Let’s Do This, as she invites her listeners to share her poetry journey. She’s encouraging to us as well as to herself – this from her 4th Feb poem which she read at the Maze, Run Free ‘Fling doubt and fear from your mind’. Amen to that. Really like the poem about Split Second Judgments as well, which is her 30th Jan poem.

Lytisha is an experienced diy performer and gave us some characteristically wistful work. Poems that seem simple but pack a punch. We were all on a strict five minute slot (but see about John H below) so Lytisha did some short poems, the shortest being an excellent poem called Forgetfulness that she forgot to write, so it didn’t take long to read out. Lytisha is interested in perspectives and often writes from other people’s points of view. I really like the poems – which are in the latest diy magazine – Looking In and Looking Out, speaking with the voices of a child looking in and a fish looking out of a fishbowl, excited and funny, sad and winsome. Lytisha also does a good imitation of a clock being perplexed by the daft goings-on of us humans.

Orla Shorthall: – or Oral as her new stage name seems to have emerged, following a typo on the poster for the next DIY event. Interestingly, it features ‘Oral’ and the event is called Suck it and See on Friday 31st March at Jam Café in Hockley. How could that fail to entice?

After the levity of her introduction Orla launched into her set that she described as full of depressing poems. They were charmingly interspersed with humour and delivered in Orla’s inimitable way. We had tales ranging from an almost too real initial impression of Nottingham as full of tiny girls in tiny dresses vomiting everywhere to the surreal which involved giving birth to a calf, fathered by a Minator, whose bull genes were dominant.

 Martin G is a thinker, and he thinks about thinking but he thinks he may have overthought this. Mixing the serious with the silly, the intelligent with the daft, you never know what’s coming next as words and images tumble over each other, all blended with a healthy dose of politics, the ridiculous and the profund. A 3D poet! He read three poems, Thinking about Thinking, The Sinkhole, in which members of the Bullingdon Club fall into a sinkhole (lol) but ends with a depressing thought about the popularity of someone called Nigel. And Divided We Stood, reflections on the death of Thatcher and Thatcherism.

 Frank McMahon: after a glowing introduction from John, Frank did not disappoint. He delivered a fine set of short poems taking us on journeys through time and politics. As he said, It’s a marmite life […]some have taste / and there are the others. As we joined the Doctor on his Tardis we revisited sports teachers and the horrors of cross country, Tony Benn, noting that Labour isn’t Working concluding with a seasonal anti-valentine poem.

 Clare S: delivered a colourful and thought provoking set with her architectural design for a Curly Fiery House which was certainly not bland, and indeed was the kind of space Gaudi would have been impressed with, to the poem Mobile Phone referring to building of an entirely different sort -an extension with more space to be lonely in. Clare concluded her engaging set with Mandela-Hitler Guilt. Her clever word play expressing that although no Mandela, she may have her faults but they are of being a whittler, but not like Hitler.

 John H and his London Bones need one last dance. Although he only had one poem to read, John’s introduction was very entertaining. And long. So long that he’d gone over his five minutes before he’d even started reading his poem. Lights were flashed but to no avail. John carried on at his own pace anyway and why not? He described being nagged into internet dating and finding that thousands of women are interested in him but John doesn’t really do technology so it was never gonna work. Undaunted, he used the near-Valentine’s date of the gig to read his poem about love, London Bones. In it he expressed his desire to take these London bones out for one last dance, one last chance, take these London bones out for one last dance. We are never too old for love.

Featured poet of the night was Trevor Wright. Trevor took us through a fabulous set with quality poems on a whole host of themes. Delivered in his understated yet engaging fashion, Trevor told us tales of love, politics, filling time, Aunty Jeans colourful opinions, and all about the Chief Execcies who squeal bonus, bonus, bonus all the way home! Trevor discussed how the impetus to overcome his block at creating Haiku was delivered by way of several – fortunately- near misses whilst out on a cycle ride one afternoon. The result on returning to his pen and paper were several vitriolic Haikus aimed at the thoughtless and dangerous drivers in question. The set was concluded by two poems reflecting on how later events or revelations revised opinions of earlier met people. Well done Trevor, very entertaining.

The evening was rounded off with some great music by The Viscous Flambards. John and Tom’s harmonies blended with great guitar playing to provide songs telling tales, some from the pre-mobile and internet era. After Living Lives like Bees in a Hive and a little audience encouragement they concluded with their encore, Waterloo Sunset – in case they didn’t get to play it. They shouldn’t have worried though, the crowd cried out for more and the penultimate song finished the evening.

Suck it and See – Don’t forget your next opportunity to hear the DIY poets in action will be at the Jam Café on Tuesday 31st March featured poet will be….. Ms Shortall.

And the next diy Maze gig is on 14th May

Lytisha and Clare

 

Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha
Jon on Sound
Photo by Lytisha
John H
Photo by Lytisha

 

Photo by Lytisha
Photo by Lytisha

Orla

DIY POETS Present ‘Suck it and See’ – Jam Cafe, Tuesday March 31st – FREE ENTRY!

DIY POETS Present ‘Suck it and See’ – Jam Cafe, Tuesday March 31st – FREE ENTRY!

Sick of cruising the drag bars night after night? Suck it and see with the DIY POETS instead! An opportunity to sample some of Nottingham’s finest spoken word as one of Nottingham’s most well established performance poetry collectives tear it up at the Jam Cafe, see below for details, shaping up to be a grand night. FREE ENTRY!DIY Poetry Suck It and See amended


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