Theatre and book reviews by Janice Dempsey
It's the morning after the night before ... That's to say, the morning after the brilliant evening that was the Keystone Pub Poetry Slam and the morning before what is going to be the amazing night of Dónall's Birthday Bash and Pop Up evening at the Bar des Arts!
We knew that a Slam is a risky event until it's established - what happens if nobody enters? We were getting worried by yesterday afternoon when we'd had three people email to say they had to withdraw (to be fair, one was coming up from Devon and the railways were horribly disrupted). That left us with seven competitors on the list and we went ahead. We managed to start on time though another poet and two key members of the lovely Dirty Carols (our headline act) were delayed. It looked as though our competition would be limited to only five poets - but all was well - and three unexpected last minute entries made up for two more no-shows. We decided on unusual slam rules - up to five minutes for each entry. And we were off!
Tracey Marion was first up, with her great poem about recovering from anorexia (that poem will be published in the next Pop Up Anthology). Then we had Cat Randle with her poem about the whole idea of poetry Slams!. Pete Jardine told us some fantastical stories, Andy Low recounted a poet fight, blow by blow, a kiss at dawn and a beautiful descriptive poem about still lake. Jen McGowan had a cautionary tale from Africa about talking skulls and Roya Hamid mused delightfully upon words and their magical sounds. Janis Haves ranted with enormous style about her frustrations in the office work place. Geoff Pimlott's quiet rant on the subject of his mother-in-law's conversational powers captured the intensity of dementia. Last up came Paddy, with poems that he'd written and rewritten in the hour or so before he read them!
And then it was time for the judges' scores to be counted while Louise Etheridge read her gorgeously sophisticated smut and the wonderful Dirty Carols harmonised their tuneful way through Louise's righteously angry and comical songs about issues that concern us all very deeply, such as the incredible and suspicious survival of Debenham's and the vagaries of the Arriva Bus Company! The place was in an uproar by the time the prize-giving began, with most of the audience weeping, mostly with helpless laughter.
It was a very difficult decision for our randomly picked judges - all the entries were brilliant in their own ways - but the tiny first prize went to Tracey, the even smaller second prize was won by Janis, and Pete won the infinitessimal third prize. All the other performers walked away with diplomas, Pop Up 2013 books and big smiles.
We're hoping to be back at this great venue, the Keystone, in the future - we love the atmosphere, the courtyard garden, the piano, the decor, the attentive audience (the crowded bar became an appreciative audience as soon as the poems began) and the genial landlord, Richard Jaehme. Oh what a night!