The first Friday of the month means one thing for poetry in this town: Number Five Cafe: 6pm. This month the Lancashire Dead Good Poets met on 5 July in association with the Wordpool festival and were joined, thanks to Wordpool funding, by Lancaster poet, Trevor Meaney. The evening consisted of two sets from Trevor and two open mic sets, with about ten poets performing in each.
The sun was blazing as the poets gathered, ordering cold beers and hot food at the counter. The smell of chips mingled with beer breath and bodies around the tables as we reluctantly shifted from the balmy outdoor seating to surround the microphone indoors. Trevor was notable for his natty ‘space invader’ jacket – black with tiny flecks of bright colour. He happily chatted to an enthusiastic audience before launching into his explosive, bullet train delivery of observational style poems that hid multiple chains of puns inside slick rhymes and a rhythm that was on point to the max. Trevor’s self-effacing, conversational style between poems only increased the impact of his performances. This poet is all about sound and isn’t afraid to spin a vowel out for several second, as he does most notably in the hilarious Chicken.
Inbetween the crowd pleasers, Trevor slipped a few slow, thoughtful pieces, such as a new poem called Time. The honesty of these quiet contemplative poems was uplifting. They gave the audience the impression that we were being allowed to see into a private moment. There is a real integrity to his work, an ability to say the things which are difficult to say, to express emotional states in clear, simple language that makes an instant empathic link with the listener. These quiet poems were strengthened by their juxtaposition with the aforementioned quick, witty performances.
As a regular at the Dead Good Poet open mic events I have seen performers develop their work over the last few years. Ashley Lister, Steve Stroud and Adele Robinson have managed to achieve distinctive voices which are instantly recognisable, utilising particular metres and themes which will no doubt translate into remarkable collections eventually. Colin Davies, Louise Barklam and Lisa Bower all presented with work which was exploring new themes or forms. Seeing poets try out new ideas is one of the joys of the open mic event and all three met with definite success in their exploration. All of the poets on the open mic brought something different to the evening and their efforts were appreciated by waves of applause.
Howard, a popular performer at the events, brought his usual brand of surrealism to the evening with re-written pop songs from the 1980s which had everyone smiling. It was noted that he would not be out of place among the great surrealists of 1920s Paris. The group was joined this month by The Random Sketcher, who sketched very quick portraits of performers as they took the mic. These can be viewed on his Facebook page. As usual, the evening was an eclectic three hours of surprising and passionate entertainment and, amazingly, it continues to be a free event. The audience is always welcoming, making it a safe and pleasurable place to test new material.
The next open mic event takes place on Friday 2nd August and the theme is ‘postcards’. I’ve no doubt the double entendres will be out in force. In the meantime, read the dead good blog for poetic insights, humour and creativity.
Photographs courtesy of Tracy Lister and Colin Davies.
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