It's Easter Monday and even Rich who owns the Keystone is worried. Will anyone tear themselves away from Easter eggs and family outings petting bunnies to come and read poems or listen to the man who is certainly one of the best narrative performance poets in the south?
We needn't have worried. The audience was great, we had eleven open mic readers and Paul made it down from a rehearsal in London in plenty of time to give us half an hour of mesmerising story-telling poetry that had everyone involved from start to finish. Here's the programme as it evolved in Dónall's capable hands.
And so, after the break, to Paul Cree, our headliner. He's modest, quiet and melts into any background until he begins his poems and then the room comes to life, all of us focused on the next line, in tune with the beat that runs through the words. Paul told us about his upbringing in Redhill, his schooling and rejection of schooling in small-town East Surrey and Croyden, his love of drumming, his musician father, and the context of his genesis as a performer.
His unfolding of the memory of a boastful conversation among young teenagers almost brought a tear to some eyes, of laughter but also sympathy and recognition. Paul remembers, observes and translates situations that anyone can relate to, into poetry. His last poem, "Maria", from his show "Tale from a Bedsitter" was poignant beyond belief and had us on the edge of our seats, rooting for the boy to win the girl of his dreams, without sentimentality or pretence. And it was a true story, he said.
We could have listened all night. What a star!
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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.