Whether it’s the story of a first awkward kiss, a one-upmanship battle that threatens the self esteem of a friend, the perils of hanging out with mates in a car park and a drugged haze, or the epic tale of the biggest cress-plant in Year 4, Paul Cree’s story-telling is well beyond brilliant. Paul’s empathy, artistry and talent for comic observation have already made “The C/D Borderline” a sell-out hit at the Roundhouse, Camden.
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This Keystone Open Mic event was just two days after Dónall and Jan got back from their honeymoon holiday in Malta and Gozo and they were in relaxed mode. Dónall had tales of the wedding, which was quiet but thoroughly enjoyable, thanks in no small part to Andy B J Low’s best-man-ship. Andy was promoted to third open mic reader in the first half, on a list of seventeen readers. His poems were thoughtful as ever: “If God isn’t a person, could it be a tree... or the narrator peering unsighted... or the shell of a soul drowned in the swirling sea...”
Alex de Suys had brought young audience to hear his “old weird sh—t from when he was a happy person” (commiserations to Alex, who really does have family sadness at the moment). Alex’s take on the creation of life involved the life forms he discovered when he was cleaning out behind the fridge!
Gareth Toms was a welcome reader, up from the Square Tower in Portsmouth where he hosts “Tongues & Grooves” on the 3rd Sunday of each month. Gareth had upbeat poems: the boy blowing bubbles and resiting moralising adult comment about the ephemeral; a tale of a stag party and a marriage poem (“Let’s Put us All together” – including hugs and cuddles)
Owen Osler’s poem about writer’s block, “The Thwarted Yorkshireman” set everyone smiling.
Martin Jones followed up with some waspish character sketches of ancient Romans and a childhood memory of imaginative games in “The Hollow Elm”: the tree still stands though the boys are no longer there.
Dónall also aired two new poems, written on honeymoon, and remembered how he first came to love poetry, through his Dad and his sister’s speaking poems to him as he grew up. He owes a day free from school when he was a little boy, to Thomas Hood’s poem “I remember” which he had learned from his father’s casual conversations, and he proved it again by reciting the poem by heart.
Andy and Veronica read very differently: Andy’s frightening fascist persona and dramatic delivery had the first two rows quaking in their seats and the rest of us laughing!
Veronica had two touching elegies: one for a friend and the other for a cherry tree cut down by the town council.
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Kyle McHale was magnificent for this 4th July, in Stars and Stripes bandana, reading three very different poems: a warning about the tragic consequences of avoiding gun registration; a love poem to a lost relationship with a girl in a red dress, and a wonderful journey across the desert to Albuquerque on a Fourth of July evening.
Ray Pool gave voice to a ghost haunting its murderer, as well as to Alan Bennett , a fan’s memory of John Lennon, and a French wheel –tapper in 1962
Lauren was a welcome new reader (and we’d like to encourage more poets of the feminine persuasion to come and read). Her subects were appropriate and topical: body Image, and gender equality.
Daniel Smith was in great form, wooing literary ladies with book titles and bigging up Wales (sorry that the Welsh bid for the Euro football crown ended on 5th July)
Michael Cutchey was in Gothic mode this evening with “Transmission, “Disciple” and “Broken Soul Prosthesis”. Michael is rehearsing hard at the moment for his Guildford Fringe play, “Boy on a Swing” at the Back Room at the Star Inn, on 10th and 11th July (tickets from 0333 666 3366 or www.guildfordfringefestival.com)
Eddie Chauncy read “Petals”, a beautiful poem for his late sister.
Geoffrey Pimlott, looking bronzed and fit, gave a spirited demonstration of underhand juggling with the three balls that Dónall wished on him last month and read a poem about “Hardwick Wood” by Heather Gatling, a friend who had visited for his 70th birthday at the weekend.Geoff’s own poems were topical: “Lies” was an indictment of current politics centred on the EU referendum and its destructive results.
Jeremy Loynes charmed us with an incantatory landscape: its refrain, “Lay me down in the deep-deep...” stays in the mind. And we had a visit to the many excellent charity shops in Godalming, reminding us of the kaleidoscope of personal worlds that surround us, in those shops and at poetry events like this. And that most of us are, like the goods in charity shops, “a little worn, some wear and tear”.
And finally, Richard read his elegy for Cassius Clay/Mohammed Ali, which he drafted on the boxer’s death last month.
Andy Fiver took us “Riding through Glencoe” and reminded us that he’ll be taking his bike up to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.