The other special thing about this week is that summer seemed on Monday to have arrived at last and the weather was absolutely perfect and very warm. So it was a rather hot Dónall in a velvet dinner jacket who started off what turned into something of a party night. The tuxedo was in honour of the imminent nuptials, of course. Dónall’s opening set explained all: he resurrected all the poems he had whose last line went ”Kiss Jan” and performed them. I also had poems on the subject`; in particular, a new, bowdlerised version of Dónall’s scandalous “It’s so Hard to Hide an E******n in a Kilt” which will cause no uproar if it’s posted on YouTube.
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Chrys is wonderfully professional. Despite having had an eye operation only a few days ago, she came down and read as promised, with great good humour. She's a great performer as well as an excellent writer and she soon had the room rocking with laughter.
Chrys began with poems on ”Family”, confessing that she comes originally from Birmingham, and explaining the trouble her mother took to make her speak “posh”. The poems ranged from tender and moving to wildly comic.
To quote directly from Chrys’s website www.chryssalt.com:
Chrys Salt writes poetry, plays, books, features and directs in the theatre. She has written and edited many books and magazines and held residencies and performed her work in the UK, American, France, Canada, Germany and Finland. Work has been broadcast on both Radio 3 and 4, read by Chrys and by others, and has appeared in many anthologies, magazines and journals. Chrys is a trained performer and worked as an actress for many years before focussing on directing and writing. She is Artistic Director of the Bakehouse, a flourishing arts venue in South West Scotland and runs performance and skills development workshops for professional actors at the London Actors Centre, and in writing and performance country wide.
Chrys is a generous supportive person who has enormous dynamism and charm. She was awarded MBE last year, for her support of the arts in Galloway and in our opinion Her Majesty was very lucky to meet this lovely, friendly, immensely talented poet and performer.
Alan's friendly, unassuming air masks great talent and he had us begging for more of his songs after his first set. I especially enjoyed his blues song about eradicating all the boring repetition in blues songs! Bankers came in for wry comment, too.
He has recorded excellent CD’s with vocals by Patty Vetta whose voice is like honey: the title track of “The Arms of the Enemy” is a beautiful meditative ballad. Many of Alan’s songs have the quality of folk or country music or rebel ballads with acoustic guitar and accordion. “Bird in Flames”, the title song of another of their CD's, is an elegy for a rebel, for example.
We very much hope Alan will come back and play for us again. More at alanfranks.com
In the open mic, Eddie Chauncy brought three of his meditations on the value of life to the microphone and took us to the seaside, but reminded us that there’s more of our history in the rubbish we leave on the beach than in all the postcards we send home.
Rochelle had a charming wedding poem for us, which she gave us in a card, as well as in a fascinator!
Jeremy Loynes, inspired by work by Robert McCarline and Anna Shepherd, spoke of the summer season in terms of the Return of the King. His poem about dementia was very moving. ("What have I been doing today?")
Geoff’s childhood memory struck a chord for a lot of us: all he wanted, he said, was to be left inside his childhood.
Lorri read a love poem “To my Wife” and she too asked permission to “be”.
“Let us live still as we lived / Let me live still love”...
“The Road” also gave us material for thought.
Andy B J Low had love poems, including a request (from Dónall) for his “Pudenda” poem. Andy has agreed to be Dónall’s Best Man on the 8th and he has a beautiful new hat. He looked very good as he told us:
“In parting and partying alike
Raise your glass.’Until the after life.’
I'll drink to you, you'll drink to me.
Jusqu'à ce que la vie après”
Karen Izod remembered the atrocity at Bataclan. Always direct, yet often leaving the listener with a question, Karen’s poems are always welcome at the microphone.
Andy V Frost was in biker mode, with a ride through Scotland (it is summer time, so why not!). He nailed his colours to the mast on the subject of a choice between a girl and a bike (as he is a dedicated biker, perhaps it was a foregone conclusion!)
Richard Alleyne paid us a flying visit to read his new poem about the death of Muhammed Ali this week.
We also welcomed AL, another new face at the mic, with a love poem to an angel and a darker piece about mental illness and the image of Satan.
The party went on till 10.30. We want to say thank you to the bar-tender, working on his own most of the evening, who accepted a glass of wine and refused another, worked so hard all night and took some lovely photos of us at the end of the night.
Ray Pool wasn’t looking for Trouble but Dónall gave it to him anyway ( on a CD by Ray LaMontagne ) and even as Alan Bennett, Ray seemed pleased.
Richard Hawtree, a new Monkey and a mediaevalist, performed for us his translation of a great poem by Rilke, and a skilful tanka on tankas.
Alex Twyman had had a heavy weekend but read nevertheless and was rewarded with a pint of woolly Guiness (Dónall had put a sock in it, or rather, a pair of socks). Alex also won the Ray LaMontagne look-alike competition (by being the only entrant) and received “Gossip in the Grain” and "Till the Sun Turns Black" the CD's bearing the photo that proved the justice of the award.