... bizarre the birds
who don't like words!
Timothy Adés, the poet and translator who wrote this little rhyme, is one of the guest poets who's been disappointed to lose the chance to feature as our guest at Poetry at the Bar des Arts in 2015 - 2016.
We have to apologise profusely to all our followers and the guests we had booked up to March 2016. We were only given nine days' notice of the change of ownership and name and the discontinuation of our events. We have always financed our own events, used our own technical equipment and our own money on these evenings, so that we could offer poetry and the chance to read, free to all comers.
It’s the end of our beginning as The 1000 Monkeys, and though we’ll be sad to lose the use of Sara Burks’ elegant venue, we’re seeing this as the stimulus to build up our other monthly series, at the Keystone Pub in Guildford, where we've been hosting a separate series since September 2014. We'd like to make The 1000 Monkeys’ presence there as popular and enjoyable as Pop Up Poetry became over three and a half years and 40 events.
So the last night at the Bar, on 15th September, became a party, with old regulars, current regulars and would-have-been new regulars turning out to celebrate the existence of the thriving poetry community in Guildford and its surrounding towns. We had booked two brilliant and very different guest poets, before we knew this would be the last night, and on the night we had eighteen open mic readers, too.
Zelda Chappel's collection, "The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat", was published in July 2015 by Bare Fiction and it's available from their website.
Our other guest, Owen Elton, had originally been booked to feature later in the year and we’d invited him to come along tonight to replace Anna Savage, who was ill. Owen is a writer and performer (and maths teacher) whose work fills the niche left by Flanders and Swan, those clever, satirical, humorous songwriters and musicians. Owen's show "The Funniest Number" was a big hit at the Guildford Fringe in July this year.
The Open Mic ...
With eighteen readers signed up for the open mic, there were poems of excellent quality throughout the night, many of which we recorded. We'll try to send the clips to everyone whose email address we have. Meanwhile, here's a gallop through my notes from the night.
Dónall's opening introduction included "Shadows Hold their Breath", his recent poem in tribute to his own father who, when Dónall was an earnest little boy busy discovering poetry, would call him into his workshop to help with practical creativity.
Dan Smith was first up to the mic, He's popped up after moving back to Farnham having completed his post-graduate degree in Newcastle. Dan, flirty as ever, tried to entice another welcome old friend, Sue Kucko, to ignore the Bar's phone and be seduced as "The Girl at the Bar". Sue was Entertainments Manager when we first started up Pop Up Poetry and was working on the bar tonight for old times' sake. She escaped Dan's clutches but later sang us her Naughty Poem (what a great voice she has!)
Of past regulars, we were pleased to see Rodney Wood, who devoted two minutes of his open mic slot to the history of Pop Up Poetry and the 1000 Monkeys at the Bar des Arts. Then he told us why he had to hear everything in the world.
Alex de Suys followed up, said Farewell and killed a few of those fluffy bunny rabbits and some bigger animals.
Louise Etheridge reminded us that the Bar des Arts was the first place where she'd spoken her poetry, warned us never to date a poet, and rhymed because she couldn't be bothered not to. She also confirmed that Guildford is the most classy place in Surrey (as if we didn't know!) and told us all about Great Aunt Eva.
Alex Twyman was acclimatising, he said, and had crossed out DISCIPLINE; Kyle McHale's poems sat crumpled and beer-stained on his bedroom shelf, despite his old Professor's contention that poems don't get lonely because they read themselves in the meanders of poetry rivers. Brendan Clarke, a new face in Guildford and a compatriot of Donall's, told us how things were making sense.
Gareth Toms, one of the Portsmouth contingent, had tales of scarecrows in chairs and insisted he didn't want to die where he didn't want to die. Richard Williams, who with Richard Peirce should have been featuring in November, insisted that the media have never seen his Africa, nor indeed very much of the experiences of politics and society that he owns.
Janis Haves had an impassioned plea to smokers to take ownership of their own fag-ends. Geoff Pimlott, a very loyal member of the 1000 Monkeys whose experience of spoken poetry began in the Bar des Arts with Pop Up and the 1000 Monkeys' encouragement, read some of his earliest poems, including his surreal conversation about Alice, the rose and the transfiguration, a "found poem", courtesy of his mother-in-law Margaret's anxiety.
Eddie Chauncy had a Chinese menu of poems he'd read in 2014. Number 43, number 61 and number 28 proved to be nutritious and highly satisfying to the soul. "Sunset' with a sub-theme of window cleaning, advanced a convincing rationale for not cleaning windows too well (declining to be perfect); "Both together" sang the merits of autumn leaves in transition; "Why I left you" spoke for itself, and as always made perfect sense.
Ray Pool unsentimentally told two moving stories, a vignette set "In the Valleys" with characters that reminded me of a painting by Walter Sickert ("his briefcase secure on the tatted runner") and a modern tale about "Suicide by Text." Good writing, delivered well towards the end of this packed evening. It was well after our normal closing time when Greg read his poem about junkies, after Andy B J Low had been so hesitant that we let him off reading for once!
But Andy B J had won the last ever Bar des Arts Raffle and was walking away with hard-cover copies of "Go set a Watchman", "The Girl in the Spider's Web", et al. exuding (he admitted himself) smugness and the sweet smell of success.
Last to arrive and almost last to read, Andy V Frost added his own tribute to the general mood, and a personal poem, "The Prodigal".
"All good things come to an end" was the theme of one of Dónall's opening poems, Louis MacNeice's wonderful "Bagpipe Music".
All good things do indeed come to an end. Goodbye, Bar des Arts.
We continue at the Keystone, 3 Portsmouth Road, GU2 4BL, on the first Monday of each month, where 1000 Monkeys Poetry Open Mic is welcomed and the drinks and meals are brilliant - and affordable!
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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.