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First up was Neil with his fantastic reggae sound. His musicianship and immersion in the music is total and spellbinding.
Dónall began the first poetry section of the evening, reading from his own book “The Smell of Purple” and recent poems. (He has a poem in PLU#3 too.)
By now we had a good audience, including ten open mic readers, and we moved on to the PLU team’s launch readings.
Our five house-guests from Paris and Frank Dullaghan, another contributor who had flown over from Dubai, where he works, were as varied and entertaining as the book itself (for this is more than just a magazine).
Helen Cusack O’Keefe (Bovent Bittern) had a blackly comic recipe for survival in prison: “How to Cook up a Storm in 6 x 8 Feet.” Her advice will probably come in useful; as she pointed out, it can happen to anyone. But banana skins and Marmite?
Emily R-K’s “Paris Nocturne” is full of lovely sinister images and sea-sounds: the sound of the city ‘s underbelly at night, a tide of growls made of “the scratchings of night crabs” and the decomposition under the streets (I thought of the Paris catacombs). The poem sounded beautiful in French and in her own English translation. I’ll share it here if she allows it.
Ed Bell proved to be a good musician as well as a poet and classicist. We loved his recital of Catullus in the original Latin and in English. I never knew before that Latin could sound sexy! The brilliant counterpoint of Neil on guitar and Max Lascelles on beat-box had a lot to do with it, too.
Shannon Cain read a prose piece that proved how erotic it can be to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, given a handsome stranger among the protagonists and a romantic European city as the setting! Sharon is preparing her next novel and I’m looking forward to reading “The Necessity of Certain Behaviours”, the book of short stories with which she won the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize.
Steph Papa began with “Notes from the Dividing Line” by Kerry Featherstone, a poem about Afghanistan from the magazine. Her own poems, “Years” and “What I Should Have Done”, were candid meditations on age, time and youth – how to approach each. "What I Might Have Done" made everyone smile!
This is a haunting poem full of images of rust, creaking hinges, doors and books that open or do not open, mirrors and dust. It reads beautifully.
Some of the 1000 Monkeys regular open mic readers read after the PLU readings, and as always proved their worth. Marcus Belassie read a love poem of his own (here’s the first part of it); Veronica had severe reservations about doing the washing up (NOT “One of her Favourite Things”, it seemed.) Bianca presented a Valentine Flower and Ivor read two lovely pieces.
Neil’s Music Open Mic had brought in Baz the Bus Driver with blues guitar, Keith Jones on mandolin and harmonica, and Max Lascelles (right) who played box throughout the night. Later in the evening we saw Andrew Ford on the melodica, and on the djmbe drum was Bob Dear. The musicians gave us another lively set of blues and reggae before the rest of the 1000 Monkeys poets’ readers took the platform.
Geoff Pimlott read in sombre mood, remembering atrocities in Paris and meditating on man’s inhumanity to man.
James Holbrook had some highly imaginative new poems (pity the mermaid was probably a fake), and Andy V Frost took us to a memorable small charity concert in a summer garden by the river.
Eddie Chauncy captured the hearts of Paris Lit Up with his lovely song “It’s not my World” and a meditation upon the tides and the moon.
Gary says: It's a work in progress but here's the story so far:
Gary's hair is history – now his name is under threat. The fightback possibly begins here. Join this lanky northerner and his bereft bonce for an anarchic hour treading the fine lines between miserable and uplifting, poetry and karaoke.
Here’s what the critics thought of Gary’s “Yeti” in 2015:
“The best thing we saw at the Fringe all week” - BBC Radio 2
“Hilarious...An oddly charismatic poet with some wonderfully bizarre ideas” - Broadway Baby