April’s Open Mic at the Keep was later in the month than usual, to avoid coinciding with Easter Monday. Perhaps because of the Easter holidays, we had fewer open mic readers than usual – nine rather than fifteen – but we did have three featured poets and an appreciative audience. Two of the featured poets were our own home-grown Ray Pool and Jeremy Loynes; the third was Dino Mahoney, from That London. Dino was visiting Dónall and Jan for the weekend and stayed over to deliver a feature-length set on the Monday night. It was our first evening in the downstairs bar, and it was very luxurious, with sofas and plenty of space to go over to the bar any time to order a drink from Brian, who was manning the pumps. A huge improvement – upstairs was getting a bit claustrophobic.
Ray Pool’s book, ‘Tales of the Unaccepted’ is a delightful collection of vignettes, satirical asides and (not always imaginary) conversations, also published this spring. The old astronaut losing even the memory of his exciting career, the rise and fall of Boris Johnson’s and Joanna Lumley’s Garden Bridge in London (a true tale of the unaccepted!), the surreal conditions that exist, it seems, ‘On the Other Side of Reading’, a grunge concert that infects its audience with a yearning for Telemann, and the end of the world not witnessed by an agoraphobic who is stuck indoors watching X-Factor – these are the kind of poems that identify Ray Pool as an original. Ever surprising, tonight he also read a moving new poem about his mother in hospital.
Dino Mahoney is a Greek-Irish Londoner who spends as much time away from the UK as in London. As a lecturer in Creative Writing, he teaches sometimes in Hong Kong University, sometimes in Brighton, and he blogs for the Asia Review. He’s the Barnes Stanza rep. He won the National Poetry Society’s Stanza Competition this year with a great poem about Brexit, which he read for us (video clip). Dino (full name Konstandinos) is a playwright as well as a poet and his plays have been staged and performed in England and Hong Kong and broadcast by BBC radio all over the world. His first collection of poems is published by Sentinel next month after winning their pamphlet competition.
An impressive literary CV, and Dino is also a very good performer and all-round friendly guy. We enjoyed his “Greek Baptism”, his foray back to gay Earl’s Court as it was in the 1980’s, and of course, “Doctor Mirabilis and the Brass Wall around England”, in which he conflates Brexit, Francis Bacon’s alchemical experiments and the poetic equivalent of Spitting Images!
Lorri Pimlott remembered learning to read the underside of a table made from a stolen church notice board! An elegy for a friend who loved gardens followed and “The Last Trump” blew a topical note and made us smile ruefully – but there was hope, too.
Michael Cutchey was gothically dramatic as ever and we enjoyed “The Duck” again: that poem never fails to make me laugh: he’s perfected its delivery more each time I hear it.
It was a surprise to see Jacquie Verbeek, who has been back from Australia for a year, unknown to us. We were able to hear some of her autobiographical poems, as the list, usually full by 7.30 when we start, still had spaces when she came in.
Karen Izod gave us an “Unknown Family Group”, a “Picture Book” in which she had adapted the cadences of Early Learning reading books to create a rhythmic poem about her forebears, and the monologue of a homeless traveller unable to sleeping Bournemouth’s public benches through the council’s inhumane decision to create divisions of the seats, specifically to prevent anyone from lying down on them.
Andy B J Low urged “Forward: the future has overtaken us!” and Bobby-Jo Dearnley had another of her excellent poems. Bobby-Jo won’t allow photos or videos, and I was enjoying her poem too much to think of making notes, so writing this after a gap of two weeks, I regretfully can’t give you more details. But it was good.
It was great to see Gareth Toms up from Portsmouth again, in a range of moods: meditative (“Growing Up”), accusing (“New Pastures”) and ballad-song-writing: “Shotgun Pete” sounded quite scary and had a catchy chorus!
Geoffrey Pimlott was in ekphrastic mode: he read two from the series of poems that he’s writing on paintings about war. Waxing political, he had a rant against inhumane governmental financial cuts.
Alex de Suys and Geoff were well matched on soapboxes, Alex also proclaimed the wrongs of the world in no uncertain terms.
Next month on Monday 7th May we have two featured poets of the female persuasion: Becky Fury with extracts from her forthcoming show for the Edinbugh Fringe, “Apocoloptimist”, and Hannah Stone, who's coming to Guildford all the way from Leeds.
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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.