Well, it’s 7.30 and here we are at the Keystone Pub for Slam Night number 3 of the series we began during the July Guildford Fringe Festival. The worst of our panic is subsiding. There’s half an hour to go before we begin, and we do have a list of 11 readers! (That’s always the fear – that Dónall and I will have to fill the entire first half with our own poems, to a rapidly dwindling audience!)
We’ve got through our routine tussle to set up the stand for our banner (worse than putting up a deckchair and I’m no good at that). We’ve found that our pretty light is still working, and so are the mike and the amp. What could go wrong? There is some bad news – the new camcorder has mysteriously eaten all its freshly charged power, just sitting in its case, and I’ve not brought another camera. No videos or photos tonight, then. But dear Geoff and Lorri Pimlott have arrived and offered me their camera for as long as their battery lasts. And here’s our headliner, Cecilia Delatori – she didn’t get lost on the way from the station, and it doesn’t matter that I left my phone at home as well.
Next, Robin’s delivering strong poems about war: very moving, well crafted and powerful. These would be good to hear again, or to read on a page.
Annabelle Yates’ “Little Girl” is a moving account of growing up; Annabelle delivers her poems with admirable confidence, though she hasn’t read them in public before.
Sarah Thompson’s poems include a piece which deals with abuse by a partner. It’s a telling account, in the voice of a victim, of the behaviour of the abuser and its effects. Another strong set of work.
Dónall takes the mike to introduce the night and perform his scurrilous "Nursery Crimes" poem, "Up Above the World So High" as the evening begins at 8 o'clock, on schedule. From now on, we really enjoy ourselves.
First up is Lydia Skelhorn, whom we’ve met before, at Holly’s “Poetry Brothel” night in July. Her spirited poems about exams and "Lonely Love" are direct and honest and her performance makes a brilliant start to the evening.
Leah Kelly follows with some powerful, angry poems (for which she should make no apology – all feeling is welcome in the realm of poetry) – the first a call to keep “Chin Up” in the face of problems. “I Come for Your Heart” is an (angry!) love poem.
Charlotte Blackwell’s first poem speaks of depression and the way that creating something can help to restore the self-worth that depression attacks. This and her other poems show her mature ability to write about feelings in thoughtful, well-chosen words and images.
Richard Jackson emerges from the back bar, with poems on lighter themes than we heard last month: I particularly like the title of “The Dead of Tuesday”.
Finally, Holly Luhning reads her moving poem from the Pop Up Anthology 2014, which is based on eighteenth century medical records of research that definitely wouldn’t pass the BMI’s ethical standards committee today. She tells us about her next Poetry Brothel night in London, too.
By now Geoff’s camera battery has expired too, so sadly I have no photos or footage of the last part of the night.
Oh, I nearly forgot – the winners this month were: