It's an exciting start to the evening. A photographer and a journalist from the Surrey Advertiser are waiting for the 1000 Monkeys who arrive at seven o’clock at the Bar Des Arts on Tuesday 16th September. Luckily it’s only a small percentage of the notional thousand of us but it does seem quite a crowd and the photographer, a natural leader, persuades us firmly into place, gathered around the black leather couch next to the stage. It’s a hot muggy evening and I’ve taken off my respectable cardigan, revealing rather too much cleavage through the young photographer’s lens. Sheepishly I tug my straps into the right configuration, in the end – I hope.
When the photographer leaves, I go round the room to see who would like to read
in the open mic tonight. We don’t have the heart to keep the list to our original offer of ten, and thirteen names go down. With three excellent 20-minute feature spots as well, Dónall is aware that he must watch his timing. We decide that the floor-spots shouldn’t be much longer than three minutes this evening. We’re pleased to see that André, the Trinity News reporter, has stayed to see the first half of the show.
At 7.30 Dónall starts the ball rolling with his Uncle Michael poem, “Singing the River”, one of my favourites, and then Eddie Chauncy reads three of his elegant, thoughtful sonnets. Cat Randle follows with a sturdy poem “as herself “ (rather than as merciful Grace, the robot maid that is her steam-punk persona.)
Now Dónall invites our first featured poet to the platform. Harry Man looks too youthful to have won as many awards as he has, but it’s clear that he deserves them all. His melding of personal memories with his interest in science and fantasy makes for arresting images, sometimes funny, sometimes delicately beautiful. I love the poem from his new pamphlet “Lift”, about the experience of seeing the ultrasound image of his unborn nephew. “Ultrasound” begins:
“The white artery of your spine
hovers beneath a butterfly’s ghost”
and ends with a collective sigh of appreciation from Harry’s audience.
More floor spots follow: Kyle McHale with his robust but lyrical work; Kathy Tytler with one of her energetic poems about running, lovely Cathy Flower with two beautifully delivered pieces.
And now our second featured guests, Tom V & Friends, take the floor: Tom and Gemma narrate a spooky science fiction rap about a man for whom inclusion in a scientific medical trial goes horribly wrong. The energy of the story is enhanced by backing on drum and guitar and the interwining of Gemma’s and Tom’s voices with the music works perfectly. Tom started his association with Spoken Word at the Bar when he was a student at Surrey University, last year.
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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.