Dan Smith has a repertoire of poems about the business of being a young man in the twenty-first century, to which he’s gradually adding. In his oldest poems he’s a “Video-Game Superman”, or the hopeful seducer of “The Girl at the Bar”.
Nowadays he’s sometimes inspired, sometimes hampered by his work as a class teacher of Year 4 children. His angry rant, “Fuck Right Off!” written at the end of a particularly frustrating day in the classroom, is one aspect of this, and his new poem,
Little Isabelle, seven years old, delivered a poem about Bobby (a dog?) who climbed a tree with disastrous results! She was remarkably confident and got a great response when she reached the final surprising line.
Isabelle’s departure with her parents marked our watershed (8pm rather than 9) and Michael Cutchey brought a distinctly dark set of poems to the mic. The dramatic style of his delivery of “Oedipism`` carried overtones of Victorian Shakespearean acting, as he was the first to recognise, and night didn’t just fall but went into death-throes! Michael’s poem to Dónall, I fear, will swell that dear man’s head beyond belief!
Almost as frightening were Rochelle Parker’s dystopias, where industry is book-powered (burning books being a fascistically-sound source of fuel) shopping is only done online and humans are to be removed. “The Dark Arts of Shopfitting for Dummies” is a phrase I can’t forget.
Hilbre arrived with her lovely greyhound, who had been quite a poetry lover last time we saw her. This evening, though, she was more agitated and made several doggy comments as Alex Twyman read. We understood and forgave her after Hilbre took her out for a comfort break and she (the dog) returned in a more attentive mood.
Marcus Belassie was back, with MacNeice poems by heart and heartfelt poems of his own.
Andy Bezalel told us he was John Bishop for the night and mentioned “The Trouble with Surrey Types.” “They can’t talk proper”, he said. He’d brought along some words to use as bricks (or maybe vice versa!) but seemed pleasantly surprised by us as a Surrey audience, so we all enjoyed his poems!
Alex Crumbie, a new face who managed to get to us after working late in Dorking, had a cautionary tale to tell. I don’t think that, after hearing what Alex had to say on the subject, we’ll ever indulge in ant-eating again. His educational poem about Nietsche was remarkable for its factual accuracy (I believe) and the number of rhymes Alex had found for “Nietsche”!
It was great to see Sara Knurowska reading again. She charmed everyone with her feisty poems and her dry humour.
Andy Frost performed one of his favourites,about his opera-singer friend, “La Traviata” and left us hoping for more.
Geoffrey and Lorri Pimlott were back from their enviable winter in Chieng Mai, looking tanned and younger than ever. Geoff read some of his new poems, bold and incisive as always. Lorri ‘s poem for the little boy washed up drowned on the beach in Greece was very moving, and we welcomed back the Bite of the Inwit, too.
Alex was far away in a wonderland of lights and fantasy, pole-dancers and prostitutes, when the greyhound began her comments. A mechanical Guildford racer with no silencer on their car added a coincidental sound effect as Alex’s poem moved on to the street.
Jim Carter had two poems by Philip Larkin to give us pause to thank goodness Isabelle had left the building, and two of his own. His own poems included a love poem for a modern technological age, and an end-of-life-on-earth scenario (Technology and dystopia were emerging as a theme for the night, alongside dogs.)
Karen Izod took us on lyrical walks in Spanish mountains and more locally at dusk without a map!
Veronica’s poems had a barnyard theme. First, her animals were competing fiercely in a beauty contest. Then an angry bacon-sandwich-to-be was rebelling against his destined fate in no uncertain terms. I think the animals won.
Only Eddie Chauncy could make a sensual love poem from the chance discovery of the instructions for his bathroom scales, I think. He also shared his observation of the bullying behaviour of signs and the fact that nothing of his is his – a set to set you thinking.
Greg Freeman brought to the mic a "what might have been" moment on South West Trains, followed by a moving found poem based on family letters from a wartime prisoner of the Japanese to his mother, and a poem in the voice of an Ofsted inspector that ticked a lot of boxes for the teachers present, including Daniel!
Kyle McHale had dug deep into his past and come up with some juvenilia from when he was eighteen or nineteen – historical documents that he should treasure! (The grown-up Kyle was already flowering ten years ago, though.)
Jeremy Loynes, a new reader to our mic, set us a test – which were his own poems and which the one by Edward Thomas? I showed my ignorance and got the answer wrong. All three were elegant pastorales in Edward Thomas’ mode, but two were by Jeremy himself.