Steve has come to perform with us at least once a year, every year since we started out as Pop Up Poetry back in 2011, and he’s gone from strength to strength. His support of poetry performance has become even more practical since he became an executive at Write Out Loud, the website for performance poets and their events. Steve will never become a pen-pusher of the admin persuasion. He remains one of the most direct communicators and active poets on the poetry scene.
Of course, we asked for the Stabberjocky, his poem about the slithy Gove, a fantastic parody of the Lewis Carroll poem. It was quite apt, since the Keep is only a few hundred yards from the house that Carroll bought for his sisters, where he wrote ‘The Hunting of the Snark’. Steve’s wonderful fantasy of a night out in the Birmingham Bullring for Donald Trump followed, and several other favourites had us hanging on every well-chosen phrase and understated, well- timed word.
The Ostentatious Breast-Feeder had the room in uproar!
I wish I’d left the video camera running for a poem I don’t remember hearing before: Broadcast was a brilliant comment on the ways of advertisers and propagandists, which I would love to hear again. By the way, you'll find one of the poems Steve read tonight, on our Stage to Page page. And you'll find all of Steve's videos on his You Tube channel, here.
Dónall had new poems inspired by Norse mythology and by his best friend’s mother in Ireland, who was his ‘third Mammy’. The recent loss of his father inspired The Silken Chain. What the Clouds Think is a beautiful poem based on and transcending the tale of the Norse creation myth.
Jeremy Loynes also had a poem about the wind and the sea, and a song to celebrate Spring.
Marcus Belassie was with us again, with two of his brilliant, tensely strung poems, Hold That Thought and Whatever – excellent pieces for performance, I thought.
it was good to see Ivor Hartney back, reading one of Marcus’ poems.
Rochelle Parker read to an audience howling with laughter at her comic timing!
Karen Izod brought together three of her Brexit poems, including Send in the Clowns and Whose finger is on your trigger, Mrs M?
Irene Shettle was another ‘long-time-no-see’ Monkey and we prevailed upon her to sing a lovely English ballad.
It was very good to see Bob Milton back, with poems about The Baker’s Daughter and Rusty Girl (whose hair was red, rather than wet!) accompanied by his illustrations of them
Martin Jones had one of his portraits: Somebody I know. Ray Pool read four poems: My Mate Vince came to life in Ray’s versatile mouth – as a musician he has a great ear for voices.
Geoffrey Pimlott read a powerful poem, Playtime about the dismal lives of children in war zones – and how they still, in spite of all, play together in the rubble.
Becky Bird read an excellent new sestina which was impressive for not sounding like a sestina (a long, complex form involving repetitions of line-ending.)
It was good to see Gareth Toms, all the way from Portsmouth, reading about love between a fisherman and his girl, the traumas of moving house and the venomous bile of versifiers.
Alex Twyman contributed a memory of a bar on a boat, when it was hard to tell why walking was so hard – was it the wind? Possibly. Or not, said Alex, in this slice of life at sea.
Tracey, a drama teacher, was new to reading at the Keep. We were impressed by her dramatic delivery of three poems. but keeping open mic readings to five minutes is a skill that we all have to master. Tracey’s last poem, a long ode to her bathroom, lasted two and a half minutes too long for such a packed night. but we enjoyed ‘In the Beginning’ and ‘Conception’, and hope to see her at the Keep again.
We were very pleased to welcome John Wheeler to the floor.Last time he was at the Keep he taught a class on performance that we enjoyed, in 2016. John’s dramatic gifts were fully employed in his hilarious poem about a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions and archaic language, involving trousers and a zip (you had to be there!)
Lorri read in Latin! (Ed Bell of PLU, she said, eat your heart out!) – but her poem was an ode To my Wife, rather than a piece of erotica by Catullus. She had a poem about a dream, too.
Owen Osler wondered about Understanding – does it get worse with age? and followed up with Philip Larkin’s famous anti-parents poem: This be the Verse.
Michael Cutchey was in Lovecraft land for his poems, and finally Andy Fiver performed a poem about Performance.