A pre-show of stand-up jokers sprang up before the poets had all arrived – I blame Alex de Suys who was determined to make sure that we heard all the latest about elephants and penguins. It made a change from fluffy bunnies so he got away with it. (He did sneak in a bunny when he came to read as a poet.)
Ivor was eloquent about the violent poet and his ivory tower, Liddy spoke soberly of a pick-up artist and also maintained that her vagina should never smell of peaches, but always of herself au naturel, and Chris P kept it short and sweet and politically incorrect about sexual harassment and office parties.
Dónall kicked off the poetry, and became convinced that everyone in the room was a Carol – but we had to doubt that when bearded Alex (not de Suys) took to the mic with a very Bukowskiesque set. Aisling meanwhile had decided to be known as Miss Piddlipom and had absolutely no regrets as she volunteered to be painted on to a firework or reduced to a pun on her real name. Chris E had regrets about getting drunk and, in another poem, about thinking too much to get laid.
Charlotte had more serious regrets about her grandmother, in a lovely tribute poem. Emily, a Keystone virgin but definitely an accomplished reader, blew us all away with her amazing rant about food addiction and followed that up with a dynamic foot-tapper about clubbing.
Alex (not de Suys) was full of angst and passionate language and Andy L flourished his pudenda poem again, to applause. Richard A, in a lovely Christmas red shirt, looked great next to the Keystone’ huge Christmas tree and the fantastic murals.
As for the Dirty Carols – well, they were the Dirty Carols for 40 minutes, but they shocked us all when amongst their naughty songs they carolled a beautiful “Away in a Manger” with all the verses we’d either never heard or had forgotten. They sang that one absolutely straight, in wonderful acappella harmony, and amid our laughter, we were reminded that it is, after all, Christmas.
Last Tuesday’s Keystone Open Mic left us amazed at the talent and enthusiasm that Guildford nurtures! We had a wonderful line-up of open mic readers, several of them from Creative Writing courses at Surrey University. It was like an early Christmas present! And the Dirty Carols were the icing on the Christmas cake, as always. This is how it went.
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Janice Windle & Dónall Dempsey
We are poets, writers, spoken word performers, editors and organisers of spoken word events, based in the United Kingdom.