7.30 pm on 9th September at the Keystone Pub in Guildford, and we Monkeys are worried. This is the first slam at the Keystone since the brilliant success of the Fringe event. Now it's autumn, school term time, everyone back in the rat-run time. Despite our best efforts to tell everyone in Guildford that we're running the best slam event in Guildford, with the Antipoet as the headliners, we're afraid that the message has fallen on deaf ears. But by 8 o'clock we've signed up Montey and Bronwen, two new entries, bringing the numbers of the contestants to as many hopefuls as we had in July. Dónall makes a start with his 'bibbetybobbetyboo!' mic test and we're away.
First, the prizes have to be highlighted - the latest Murakami novel (punters queued all night to buy it last month before it was put on the shelves in London); a set of wooden blocks that spell PINT and carry the price of one bluetacked to their faces, lots of DVD's and poetry books.
And the contest begins... but first Dónall shows us how haiku can be performance pieces with his "Handyman" and "New Dogs, Old Tricks"! And he has a very new poem that the vicar might have been amazed to hear - a new take on "CONSUBSTANTIATION"! The Trinity sharing a flat in Guildford? A recipe for a very funny poem!
And now we pass swiftly on to the contestants -
Greg Freeman gives us a vivid picture of his memories of his brother's life and love of the Shadows' music in the 60's. Greg, who is on the staff of WriteOutLoud.net, is also taking photographs throughout the evening, which appear on the WriteOut Loud site, for which we're very grateful. They're at
Jen McGowan follows up Dónall's religious theme with poems about Mary Magdalen passing a building site and Lot's wife who's wondering what reincarnation might follow her transformation to a pillar of salt.
Elaine Stabler, looking poised and beautiful, reads her lovely poems from the Pop Up Anthology and a new love poem, "Dreaming".
Bronwen's humorous poem about her happy marriage is followed most movingly by her sad poem about his cancer and death. Her friend, Montey, has poems about a checkered past, which he delivers with a humorous grin.
And we have a dark horse, a last minute entry - Rich Jackson, who confesses he hasn't been writing much recently but has dashed off an impromptu poem for this evening's event.
Rich reads three dark pieces with aplomb.
There's time for one more poem by Dónall and it's the one about walking backwards with his Uncle Michael in the fields of his childhood holidays in Cork. It's one of my favourites and I video it.
And now we come to our headliners - Paul Eccentric and Ian Newman (always introduced by Paul as the Bass Whore) - the Antipoet. It's 9.15 and since 8.15 there's been an audience. Although some are seated in the comfy couch area round the other side of the bar, everyone was listening to the poets through the Keystone's speaker system and the Antipoet never have any trouble making themselves heard! Now they play a set that has everyone clapping and stamping in the right places, including several new songs and some old ones: "Tights Not Stockings" and "Random Words in a Random Order" are two of my personal favourites.
As the last DING of Paul's triangle dies away, the prizes are awarded. Jen has first prize; Elaine carries off second, and Bronwen's awarded third. The margins are narrow, and everyone deserves recognition for artistry and bravery so each entrant goes away with a certificate and a book, into the autumn night. They've promised to come back for the next slam night which is on the second Tuesday of the month, 14th October - we'll be there and we're hoping you will too!
We're going to start at 8pm and we're looking forward to seeing Cecilia Delatori who's coming down from London to headline, with her ukelele, her guitar, and her slant-wise views on middle-class life.
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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.