Spoken Word at the Bar Des Arts June 16th 2015
A warm summer evening and it was a select audience that gathered in the Bar Des Arts to read poems and enjoy the work of Claire Booker, Hugh Greasley and Elaine Stabler, our guest readers.
There were seven open mic readers, though we missed Kyle, who is having an operation on his back, and Andy Low who no doubt was roaring around Surrey in his beautiful car, Alex de Suys who was probably busy teaching girls to fight, Liddy who is recovering from all those exams, and Andy Frost, who has had trouble with his bike (and his back, I believe) But we did enjoy hearing from Graham, Ray, Geoff and Lorri, Eddie, Richard, Alex T and Michael, a Bar Des Arts Virgin who transmuted into a non-bar-de-arts-virgin Goth quite early on in the evening.
Dónall's introduction was wide ranging and relaxed and included a great new poem, "Hamlet at the World Cup" which I think will become one of his favourites. Here's the video.
Perhaps Claire's most memorable poem for me was her account of the Oberamergau Passion Plays in 2010, a poem in which she wove the miracle plays with the lives of villagers who enacted them. Her “rude poem” about "Coitus at Banby Beach" (consensual sex between dogs!) was unforgettable in quite a different way! Claire had memories of a liberal childhood free from smacking (writing out lines of Hardy was a punishment – despite which she did become a poet herself ) and a sensual love poem based on a memory of visiting Thomas Hardy’s Dorset cottage. She ended with a beautiful lyrical poem about the moon in all its guises.
Hugh Greasley is a painter as well as a poet, and has collaborated with a friend who is a performance artist/dancer in a moving multimedia performance piece about water, soon to be performed at the South Bank. This evening it wasn’t possible to perform that ambitious piece of art but he read poems on the same theme from his book “The Inner Sea” and from his latest book, published this month, ‘The Tide Clock”. Both were written in collaboration with the writer Mark Cooper. We particularly enjoyed Hugh's resonant poem about the body: “One day we will release from our bodies...”
Elaine Stabler approached her first long feature in Guildford with her usual confidence and charm. In well-crafted conversational poems about her family and her friends she gave us a clear picture of her perceptions and allegiances. She celebrated the life of a beloved uncle, and mourned a family tragedy that her mother, in the audience, had undergone; she spoke angrily of the depression and suicide of a school friend and with passionate sadness bewailed the loss of a beloved boyfriend. Elaine had begun with her extraordinarily graceful accompaniment in signing of her poem about sign language. Her final poem, in contrast, was a confession of her own clumsiness when red wine was involved! Here's the video:
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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.