Diy Poets report for Gig at the Maze, 31st August 2016
Written by Lytisha and Clare Stewart.
Our regular evening of three halves began with Andrew Martin doing a sterling job of the nerve wracking role of compering the first half. Our first act was:
Martin kicked the evening off in great style. He opened by considering how salad would be, if presented in a modern art style. He Curated Salad, conjuring many tasty images, including watching as ‘Camels criss-cross cous cous dunes’. This great opening poem was followed with a poem he’d written with his wife. She, like many of her generation, had been a typist and practiced the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Then Martin took us through several permutations which ranged from the ridiculous to the surreal. In the next poem Martin considered what it would look like to see someone else’s memories tied up in a parcel. Would you unwrap it for a peek? He concluded with a Haiku that asked What do willow herbs think? Much food for thought in our opening act.
Jeff, as the timer for all the other acts, had the difficult task of timing himself, but he seemed to finish before the need to shine bicycle lights in his own eyes. He read three poems, the first about all the fun of the fair that can be experienced at music festivals. NOT. Mud, toilets, getting lost, rain, snoring strangers, tripping on tentlines, flies, heat and waiting in queues. Mmm, can’t wait. Then a poem about hating shopping with a certain ‘she’ – I guess Jeff’s wife/partner – who apparently loves shopping, or does it quite enthusiastically anyway. As someone who also hates shopping, I can’t help but side with Jeff on this one, but also can’t help wondering why he puts himself through it! And third, an anti-fracking poem. I found this a really interesting poem with some oomph packed in and good poetic force behind the message.
This was John’s debut at the Maze with Diy Poets. He treated us to a fine set of four poems. The first, Pressures, looked at all the pressures society imposes and how we can recognise and react to them. The Second, Be Careful, explored the ideas of mis-understandings. In Clutterbuck, John looks at timing. And suggests the interlude is ‘not now, later, no later still…’ sounds like me writing to a deadline! On that note, John reminded us all in his final poem that it’s all about Timing. Maybe now ‘is the time to take stock’. Taking stock of John’s inaugural performance, I think we have a lot to look forward to in the future.
Kevin sported a very fetching stag t-shirt. And gave us a lovely poem about David Bowie, ‘Starman filling us with stars’. Then a very tender portrait of his mum with a refrain that she likes growing orchids, but is not able to do it these days. Uses a great image about the ticking clock that Kevin must have been hearing most of his life being like his own twin, sprung tight. And finally, keeping within the allotted five minutes, Kevin read a beautiful poem that conjured up lots of images of trees and their sap and their roots, that we’re all gifted and have the potential to fly out from the tops of the trees.
Phil introduced his three poems, all of which seemed to have self reflective themes. The first, Anonymous Anemone, makes us consider the anemone, as see its’ spiky behaviour in a more sympathetic light when we remember that although ‘it has no mortal enemy’, it is still lonely as it hides away at night. The second poem was an homage to his home district. Phil dedicated it to all the East Side Massive represented in The Maze. Netherfield, in all its flawed glory was brought to life and the ‘maelstrom of people’ were conjured by Phil’s descriptions. He concluded; ‘perfect it may never be, but Netherfield is my home’. For his final piece, entitled Walking Contradiction, Phil had to translate some street talk for some of us old farts, introducing the concept of ‘fleek’. (I’ll let you discover it for yourself, if you don’t already know). He then went on to tell us about his experience with facial hair fashions and the resultant experience begs the question: facial hair fleek or eek?
Lytisha was feeling jolly, having just finished her dissertation, and wanting to put it behind her, a little bit, she read older poems that didn’t have anything to do with that work. Lytisha shows us what she sees with her magnifying-glass-vision as she gazes and ponders on the insubstantial, the small, the detail. Curious, quirky, we saw, with the sluggish and detached vision of someone bereaved watching their own hands, how a cloth dries a pot that then gets put away. And then, another poem, how, when looking at moving lights, on closer inspection, it’s not the lights moving but the trees waving about in front of the lights – these tiny misunderstandings that temporarily confuse and blur the mind and contribute to a feeling of general vertigo. She also brilliantly showed us a blank page called Forgetfulness, a poem she’d forgotten to write… And a poem about the Olympics that she hadn’t been able to see for tears of admiration. And then some random-sounding poems, an exercise in first lines, intriguing and surreal.
After a short refreshment break, our second of the three halves was neatly compared by Hazel Warren. The first act she introduced was:
Strong rhythm and strong rhyming schemes, and loud, a bit reminiscent of Attila the Stockbroker, as well as our own dear Eagle. Jamie is new to Diy but certainly not new to performing. We were regaled with a poem about police corruption, especially when it comes to dealing with people with mental health problems, and even worse, black people with mental health problems. Then an angry Brexit poem, shouted enviably from memory, again about corruption at the top and pointing out that us down here are generally very humane. Then a poem calling on all us creative souls to lead the fight against prejudice, we have a responsibility, because of our unique ability to communicate, we can, we should unite people.
From the Word Go:
From the Word Go are a performance collective including regular Diyer, Martin Grey, with Julian, freshly returned to Nottingham, and ably assisted by Kira. They gave a us a visually as well as aurally exciting set. We saw: goldfish in a bowl, spinning plates, guns, mirrors, and movement in a opener that got us thinking about who calls the shots. The second piece, which was spoken and accompanied by djembe, saw us ‘battling over that piece of peace of mind,[ …].the rain outside my window, the pain outside my soul’. The metaphor reflecting the turmoil of the mind was engagingly delivered. Great to have Martin back on stage and the team From the Word Go will. I’m sure, have much more to entertain us with.
Richard C Bower:
Richard’s meteoric rise seems unstoppable now as he trips down to London in November. Good luck with that. He found poetry relatively recently and has felt its therapeutic, cathartic muscle. His first poem this evening was about this, of finding poetry on the ocean bed, of how it transforms the poet, it’s a ‘playground for disaffected philosophers’. His next poem, ‘Flying on Shadowless Wings’ about ‘hanging on the edge of reality’ and says that it is possible to turn disaster into something beautiful.
Clare treated us to a trio of tales which were inspired by her time working in a nursing home and reflecting on the changes as we age. Mr Lawson was the eternal optimist, as he waited in vain for his son at the door, coat on ready for the off at a moment’s notice. Then we heard how one lady used her limited language during her slow recovery from a stroke. ‘Okey Cokey, Cokey Cokey’, words that imply an inherent good humour, trapped in a body that had to take time to relearn and recover. Clare’s final poem, Old Man in a Bath again shows the spirit inside. ‘Old man soft’, yet his mind was still dreaming of the sensuous side of life. A delightful trio of portraits, reminding us all of the individuals we all are. And that although our bodies may age, inside we remain the same; and many of us are mischievous kids.
Andrew M, relieved of compering duties in the second half of the evening, read a poem commemorating Ken Barry, creator of Postman Pat. Andrew used the rhythm and sense of the Postman Pat song to tell us about Mr Barry, ‘perhaps a mail sack will serve as a shroud’, and the Last Post will play in mourning. His next poem was about the renewal and the extending of the laws about badger-culling, denouncing the new rulings because it doesn’t help eradicate TB, and it causes suffering to the badgers, the justifications for the cullings is a load of bull – Andrew uses puns throughout his poems, poems often seem to trace his meandering thoughts as he’s on a bike ride or walk. His last poem was a beautiful description of one of my favourite places, the Hope Valley (Oh, why don’t we all live in Hope? Sorry, that’s my own, not Andrew’s…).
Aka Jollity John for this evening. John was in a good mood. I know that, because he told us. Buoyed by his recent trip to Edinburgh festival, and not even troubled by forgetting to bring the copies of his book that he would’ve promoted had he had any, John set off on one of his customary rambling introductions that entertained us at length with twists and turns and references to Lady Di Tartan. Eventually embarking on the new poem inspired by an incident that occurred in Edinburgh. John, despite missing the award winning performance that he’d booked, had a special tale of his own. Stewart Lee stole my chair! After examining the miserable expressions on the faces of the comedy glitterati, John concluded by reminding us that ‘poetry is much cheaper than therapy’. I would also add to that, much more entertaining too.
Featured Poet: Eagle Spits:
Eagle, the inexplicable, the anarchic, the punk haired, and the shouty, our featured poet of the evening. Disappointingly, he didn’t wear a kilt, but only wore some trousers with a bit of tartan down the front. Eagle’s been in diy for a couple of years maybe, and we are glad to see him well and back on the scene again after a bit of an absence. Well, has Eagle ever performed a quiet poem? Well, yes. But, generally, it’s hard for a poor reviewer to keep up and my notes have sure got erratic here but thankfully, Rachel thought to film some of his set him and put it up on FB. Go look. Fantastic!
Eagle appeared on the stage first with a little robot that couldn’t stand up straight. His first poem was about being beat up for being a punk…
Eagle pointed out that political poems have a sell-by date as events move on, but read a poem about D Cameron anyway. ‘Hey Mr Cameron, God’s camera is on you, recording all your evil’ and Death will catch up on you, just as he did Faustus.
Poem about corruption at the BBC, and how it doesn’t work for us, or represent us. ‘Freedom of the press is freedom to ignore’.
The one he did last time about the meanness and unfairness of council posters telling people not to give money to homeless people in the street.
A protest song about the refusal or unwillingness to help refugees. Rachel joins in this one with her lovely deep folky voice ‘The poor are my family, my siblings, my kin, Open the borders and let them all in.’
Poem about the enemy being the state.
I was a bit responsible for the next poem, or my rubbish satnav is, aided by an RTC somewhere in Basford, that Eagle wrote whilst waiting for a lift, and I was late. A sweet and hopeful poem, describing the end of all this fascist, moneymaking, bombdropping warring. At the end of our nightmare, we’ll realise our dream – ‘children and kittens and food that is fresh’. A quiet Eagle poem.
Eagle then berated his poor little robot for looking pissed. Leave it alone, yah bully!
Slightly misquoting Philip Larkin, Eagle’s next poem began ‘They fuck you up the Tory cunts’. A general anti-Tory poem.
Another favourite, protesting against the very cowardly drone bombs that murder civilians indiscriminately, in a sanitised way, that means no whites of eyes are ever glimpsed, no hearing of screams, no chance to check you’re even killing the person you meant to kill. Can’t believe it really, who dreams up these things?
‘The first casualty of war is truth.’ Eagle here protesting about state-sanctioned murder and how angry he is. (No kidding.) ‘People are starving, murdered by greed.’
Lastly Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who leaked films and info to WikiLeaks about the Iraq war in 2013 ‘Like a leper with a candle, I want to feel the pain’, a wanting to feel alive even if it hurts, just so long as it’s open and honest and truthful. And I guess that says it for Eagle, a yearning for peace and compassion but not at the sacrifice of truth.
Finally our third half was the music brought to us this evening by Dog Explosion
Dog Explosion are Oliver, his laptop, and a stuffed dog wearing glasses. Oliver performed a set of his own work, covering a range of topics as diverse as memes, dreams, self delusion and relaxation. He writes and records his own music tracks and accompanies himself by sing over them live.
At times reminiscent of the sound of ‘80’s German band Kraftwerk in his delivery, Oliver regales us with tunes including Talking, Fire Power, and Relax and Enjoy. We explored themes of memes, and when reality is confused with online presence. He also sung of fighting ‘this disease called sleep’, I have to say, as diseases go, that’s my favourite! In Talking a cynical voice tells us ‘I’ll believe in anything, if it gets me what I want..’ as the idea of religion is explored.
Thanks were sent to all involved, the writers and poets, the musical act, Jon for doing a fine job on the sound desk, staff at The maze and the fine audience for joining us. That concluded our Summer gig at The Maze.
A great evening of wordsmithery, with music, juggling, and fairy lights for good measure.
See you all same place, Thursday 10th November. In the meantime, keep an eye out for more Diy Events.
Lytisha and Clare.