"It's not over till the fat lady sings" they used to say of music hall shows back in the day. We don't have a fat lady who can sing to bring down the curtain on July (and no smart comments, please, Dónall - I'm not going to sing!)
But three weeks into this hectic Guildford Fringe Festival month we almost began to feel that the work and play for July had reached a peak and passed it, with the success of the Wordplay 2 Poetry Cabaret last night at G-Live in Guildford. It was the third Guildford poetry event Dónall had hosted in three weeks, following the Keystone Fringe Festival Slam on July 6th and Poetry at the Bar des Arts on July 14th. And on 9th we appeared as poetry courtesans at the Poetry Brothel in the Legion. We've also attended several of the excellent plays and shows that the Fringe has generated and spent mornings promoting our own and other Fringe events. (Many shoppers in Guildford now recognise our red hats as the uniform of poets!)
July's not over yet, and Dónall and I have one more exciting poetry event before the fat lady sings, because on 29th Dónall's going to feature at the other "Pop Up Poetry", the event that inspired us to find our own new name, twelve months ago. Marva Jackson Lord of G-Riots.com organises this one, in Hay-on-Wye. We've visited Hay and met her before. She's a lovely welcoming lady and we thoroughly enjoyed her event and the lovely town of Hay, which contains even more books to the square foot than our house.
So here are slideshows of the photos from the last three weeks and we'll go back to reviewing in more detail next month. For the rest of July we'll rest up and enjoy the memories.
July 2015 Week 1: First there was the Winchester Hat Festival reading...
Part of the Winchester Poetry Festival, on 4th July. Dónall was asked to host this street event in Parchment Street, Winchester, with five other poets reading our poems - without a mic ... Jan was able to read too. The weather was lovely, we met some charming people and everyone enjoyed the afternoon.
Then there was ... The Keystone Fringe Festival Slam: July 6th
We revived the fun slam at the Keystone, just for the Guildford Fringe. Antosh Wojcik and Cat Randle were the guest judges and there was a very strong field of competitors, but Michael Cutchey won by an easy margin with "The S Word". Lorri came 2nd and Emily Day was third. Kyle stepped out of his comfort zone and delivered a funny, waspish poem about the wrong kind of aging lady poet (I hoped I was the right kind!), and Damien O'Vitch practised for his slam entry later in the week (he later made it into the Albert Hall with finalists). It was a brilliant evening. Here's the video of Michael's performance, and some photos:
Week 2 there was ... The Poetry Brothel: July 9th
Another Guildford Fringe Festival event, the joke here was that we dressed up and presented ourselves as "poetry courtesans", selling our spoken poetry to punters who paid to go with a poet to a private room for a customised poetry reading. The Legion, next to the Bar des Arts in Guildford, temporarily housed the Brothel. It was quite fun, though not a lot of money or poetry changed hands. The dressing up was the best thing. I wrote a special poem about being a "poetry whore" and delivered it, and Dónall at first enjoyed dressing up in drag but found the pink high heels torture after the first half hour - but here are the photos and our poems on video.
and Poetry at the Bar des Arts: 14th July
This was our monthly poetry open mic, a week early, with three guest poets who delivered comedy in very different ways. Raymond Blake's persona is dry and impatient and a little right of UKIP, though he always recommends Radio Russia for truthful news. Raymond never fails to amuse Guildford. A F Harrold came to the platform as his tall Edward-Lear-like self and amused us with his mix-and-match clerihews in an entertaining set which we videoed, and John Wheeler had poems ranging from a Shakespearean pastiche soliloquy about his Austin Allegro (that poem is in the Keystone Anthology) to more moving personal memories. There was a small audience of eleven open mic readers and one or two others who dropped in, and we had a very pleasant evening's entertainment.
Week 3: Wordplay 2 at G-Live: 20th July
A warm enthusiastic atmosphere was generated in the Bellerby Studio of G-Live by this poetry cabaret, for which we received the support of Pete Hunter at Apples and Snakes with much gratitude. The audience included people who had never been to a poetry event before but who loved the range and variety of the performances. The headliner, Simon Mole, is on our video (awaiting my edit) but by an oversight we have no still photos of him. Simon's set included his marvellous account of his inspiring hi-five with the pinstriped hailer of a black cab in the Edgeware Road, and an excerpt from his current show, "No More Worries", touring now, which is about friendship and loss. His last poem, an elegy for a friend, was particularly strong. We've always enjoyed Simon's performances (we're regular attenders of the Keats House Forum events which he co-founded) and this was no exception.
The supporting poets were amazing, too. Anna Kahn's wonderful love poems were so beautiful that as I edited the video clip I made, I found I had tears in my eyes! Steve Pottinger gave a strong and kindly humorous performance, full of compassion as well as a little of his reputed anger. Dónall Dempsey was his usual volatile and dynamic self (we all know where our popliteal fossae are now, especially the long-suffering Anna, his demonstration model !) Oh Standfast was as surprising as ever. Cecilia Delatori celebrated Leytonstone , Berkshire and Dame Maggie Smith with wit and panche and her black (size 12) guitar. And Eddie Chauncy sang and told about love in all its forms, with elegance and ease.
August promises less frenetic activity but high-quality guests (as always): Ash Dickinson at the Keystone on 3rd and Jennifer McGowan and Bethany Pope at the Bar des Arts on 18th August.
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Janice & Dónall Dempsey
We are poets, writers, spoken word performers, editors and organisers of spoken word events, based in the United Kingdom.