Our last Keystone Poetry Open Mic Night of 2015 was graced by Rob Auton, the performer who has been described by the Guardian as “poetic, philosophical, humane, completely charming and funny to boot”. I suppose that sums up our aspirations for the Keystone Poetry Open Mic so we were quite surprised when after Dónall’s initial performance, of Louis MacNeice’s “Bagpipe Music”, a middle-aged person of masculine gender shouted out from the front row, “Is this poetry or comedy? I came for a poetry evening!” Dónall’s energetic rendering of MacNeice’s great surreal comedic poem (video below left) had been lost on him, it seemed. The man’s misunderstanding could have been dispelled by the eighteen open mic readers and Rob, our feature, if he’d only paid them attention rather than wandering between audience, bar and toilet for the rest of the evening!
Rob has been categorised by some critics as a stand-up, but he’s not easily labelled like that, despite being branded as the writer of the best joke of the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 – unfairly, he maintains. His vision is richly poetic and his slanted observations of the mundane in life are surprising, sometimes bleak but often wondering and innocent. He follows in the footsteps of the great Scottish surreal poet Ivor Cutler, whom he admires and sometimes emulates. Rob finished his set with one of his most moving and at the same time funniest poems: “My son, Dad”. Above is a clip of part of his set at the Keystone on Monday.
Rob is bringing his new hour-long Water Show from the Soho Theatre to Aldershot, Fareham, Portsmouth, Margate, Oxford and other towns outside London in 2016. Details are on his website, here: http://www.robauton.co.uk/#!past-productions/c1bf2
We’d invited people to bring poems by other poets to read alongside their own and for his part Dónall regaled us with stories of what other poets’ work had done for him, including getting him an afternoon off school (Thomas Hood) and rescuing him from bullies who hung him up on a coat-peg (Gerard Manley Hopkins). W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice also featured in Dónall’s sets.
Hilbre followed Dónall's lead with another Gerard Manley Hopkins poem and Gareth Toms read Martin Newell’s “Journey to the Bottom of the Handbag”, to which I for one related perfectly. He then asked if we wanted to be a penguin; I wasn’t sure I did, after listening to the arguments in the poem.
And below is our newest 1000 Monkeys Open Mic poet, Jack Sparrow - thanks, Jack, hope you'll do a poem again, next time.
Wishing you a very happy Christmas holiday
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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.