Last Tuesday's event at the Bar Des Arts turned out to have a couple of themes: "Bloodlines", the presentation by our guests, was one of them, hats was another (here's Liddy looking very sultry in Dónall's rajah hat) and as it happened to be St Patrick's Day, we had to give Dónall the run of the place even more than usual. He treated us to the story of his birth, his name and other Irish things, which can be read in his little book “Sifting Sound into Shape” (Dempsey&Windle). He had to represent St Paddy’s Day single handed, because our guests were American and Japanese by parentage, and read from their books “Anything in Turquoise” by Wendy Klein and “Landscape with a Hundred Bridges” by Dorothy Yamamoto about their own mixed bloodlines.
To bring us up to the break, Dorothy Yamamoto took the mic and read us a fairy story, backwards in Japanese style, and we saw how Little Red Riding Hood becomes much less disturbing, and more kind to all the characters, if it ends with the wolf accompanying the little girl in the hood back to where he would have met her, and melting back into his natural habitat! Dorothy told us how rice should be cooked, according to her family's recipe, and confessed she had been brave enough to comment on her son’s new tattoo (and had been rebuked soundly.)
Dorothy recalled her father, cutting Dorothy’s fringe in an inexorably straight line, so that she wondered why everything was always the same. Wendy remembered “five years of growth” through the medium of the hair she grew so long that she could sit on it. Each brought to life the characteristic of their families, so embedded, occasionally so irritating, and so loved.
After the break, Wendy read more poems, including one of Dónall’s favourites, “Red Toenails in April”, which was published in last year’s Pop Up Anthology. This so inspired Dónall’s imagination that Kyle, next up to the open mic, found himself asked about the colour he was wearing on his toenails tonight. (As it was St Patrick’s, Kyle kindly let this go without flooring our host.)
Dexter had a very long set of verses about a misspent youth as a football hooligan, and Andy V was last up, but not least touching as he read his sequence about the flowering, souring and final maturing to friendship of a relationship with a much-loved lady.
Next month's Spoken Word at the Bar Des Arts is on 21st April and features Chrys Salt, fresh from the Palace where she collected her MBE early this year, John Smallshaw from Yorkshire via London, and Bernard Kops, in a rare and valued appearance. And of course we hope to see you, too.
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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.