<Deleted User> (7164)

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Howcroft, February 2010.

Last night i ventured out to Bolton for an evening of poetry and social banter. I wasn't disappointed. Although it did feel like it was going to be a quiet one until a few late-comers arrived. In my opinion it was a good night, in part because i enjoy the familiarity of the cosy room and atmosphere as well as the informality of the venue and its rules.

I've decided to keep this as brief as possible so i'm going to list the readers and maybe a few highlights for me of the evening itself.
In no particular order we were treated to the delights of :-
Our compere- Allan Gray, always a gem.
Rob Goodier- nobody understands him, poor soul.
Terry Caffrey- admits to living in Toxteth, a first timer at the Howcroft but i believe a seasoned performer who makes ''appropriate'' noises as he reads. Different!
Don Parry treated us to a song in the second half which further enhanced a pleasant ambience.
Simon Ellis- renowned for his love poems told a very different story tonight. Naughty then quite deep and emotional.
Eric Tomlinson- his usual wonderful and kindly humorous self.
Scott Devon- as if not tall enough already stood on his seat to perform a giant of a poem.
Val Cook- wishes she could write a poem like several of our friends on the site. I think she does very well on her own.
Jane and Jenny- this was good. Jennie sang while Jane orally read a poem. Sounds odd but it really was good.
Isobel- a firm favourite delivered her love poems with panache and a style which some said was too fast. Maybe it was just over too quickly.
Rachel Bond- she was clicking away with her camera and read a couple of poems, one from another author. She writes herself so i don't really understand her reasons for that.
Jefferama- can't resist an opportunity to plug his latest gig and he read a poem about the passing of time.
Gus Johnson- is another firm favourite. He's renowned for staying firm but tonight he was quite romantic.
Winston Plowes- travelled a fair distance from Hebden to be with us. One of the poems he read had won a comp by default. Ask him how. It's quite a funny story.
Julian- his poetry is more far reaching than he gives it credit for. His performances were one of the highlights of the night for me. To be capable of writing a poem while ill about taking 'Lemsip' and make it funny astonishes me. Hilarious.
Dermot Glennon- only stayed a short while but treated us to his 'Yawning sky' poem posted here earlier in the month.
Paul Blackburn- is Paul Blackburn and needs no excuses.
Linda Morgan- lovely gentle poetry.
Me?- well, i'll let someone else have a say.

Other highlights for me were seeing Chris Neale again. I'd love to hear her performance voice in reality. It's a treat on audio file.
Darren Thomas is another favourite with us all and it's ages since i've seen him so it was lovely for me to see him in person. Hopefully you'll see a selection of photos by him in galleries. He was clicking away all the first half. I don't know if he intends or has written a review. I hope so. I'm sure it will be much funnier and very different to mine.

Hmmm, lengthy wind bag aren't I? :-)
ah well, until next time as they say. Tatty bye.
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 05:31 pm
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Way to go Janet!
I tend to get bored rather easily, but I read the entire thing (review), and found it to be quite interesting : )
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 07:11 pm
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Indeed! And I think there was plenty of humour in there Janet.
Call me shallow if you like, but my favourite of the night was Julien's Lemsip poem. It was light hearted and just what I needed. It also included the hint of snot which is close to toilet humour so had me sniggering...
What I love about these nights is the camaraderie that exists between fellow poets and the gentle light hearted banter. Paul Blackburn? I think he's in need of plenty of excuses...
Janet, I love your appraisal of Gus Johnnson - what can I add to that? He gave an outstanding performance on the night...
Linda Morgan - I haven't heard much of but would agree that she has a lovely light gentle touch that is a pleasure to listen to.
All in all, an enjoyable night. Thanks to Val for running it so smoothly.
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 07:31 pm
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Hi all

Yes a fun night. For me it was difficult to know who to talk to to catch up with first as there were many there I have not seen for a while. My highlights amongst others were

Gus' reading of his belt poem
Simon's great slow emotional reading
Lynda's vest
Paul's wanderings (with tongue and with feet)
Julian's medicinal cowboy
Scott's finale

Win

come on Darren, review please?
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 08:24 pm
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I thoroughly enjoyed the poems, the company and the varied thoughts and musings of a pub room in Bolton. We set off investigating beliefs, how many nights have considered Jesus, environmental issues, the Chinese New Year, love in its wonderful facets,street gang-life, HIV, nighties,ties, underpants and relationships through drama, music, song, verse, prose, vocalisation and a packet of Anadin?
A note about Janet's work. The first was the Chinese New Year in which a metal tiger wonderfully played across the eons and the second about a taxi. I think it was a great journey. My thanks to all, Jane
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 10:06 pm
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darren thomas

Well, I was picking the bones out of ‘Ancrene Wisse’, a 13th century masterpiece of Middle English prose - but what the hell - let’s talk about proper words and stuff innit.

I’ve not travelled to The Howcroft for several months. A combination of inclement weather and that over familiarity that breeds many things - not least - an embryonic contempt. Not for what the evening represents - but for the event’s venue and its unaccommodating ‘regulars’. Those plebeians that stand hunched at the bar feeding a hungry and marginally tuneful jukebox until the Tony Christie wannabe’s have sang themselves hoarse. But that was then - surely things had changed?

They had.

The non-poet cliental comprised of two Vimto drinkers and a mandatory bar-fly sitting with one of his chins resting on the bar. The ticking from Bolton’s nearby Town Hall clock could clearly be heard over the hum of enthusiasm - but this wasn’t the poetry event. This was the room where emotion was constantly stifled; where expression was fettered with ropes of negative poetry prejudice - and it was practically empty. Things were looking up.

Passing through into what was once a furnished room, where poets had so often whispered, recited and performed their words, brought with it a feeling of nostalgia. It’s nearly four years since I first ‘performed’ at The Howcroft, and although I can’t recall what people said to me - or HOW they said it - I can remember just how they made me feel. Which is why I now found myself standing in a room that could double as a squash court - it’s THAT sparse. Whoever is systematically removing the room’s furniture piece by piece - please have a heart and return it! Some windows are now without their infamous mustard coloured curtains - at this rate come Easter, we’ll be sitting on bean-bags.

What’s that saying? Nostalgia - it’s not what it used to be. Well, Alan Gray has shed the skin of Gordon Zola but he maintains a level of cheesiness that would grate on lesser individuals, but Alan’s humour is inoffensive, occasionally topical and always entertaining. As the event’s Comperé he was responsible for making sure the likes of Ego and Id were kept in check and that everyone who attended had a fair amount of time to impress - and impress they did.

Rob Goodier treats his rhymes like you would the last pair of fashionable looking shoes remaining in a shop - you’d suffer the pain as you horn a size 8 shoe onto a size 11 foot. They may make you wince occasionally, and a part of your anatomy may be potentially scarred for life, but what the hell - they look great - until they start to squeak - and they will - like Rob’s poetry did - but what I enjoy about Rob is that he’s a naturally entertaining guy. I don’t think he realises just how funny he could be?

I’ve seen Terry Caffrey out and about across the poetry scene and throughout the North West. He has a distinct style that exaggerates his Liverpool dialect and there is a depth to his poetry that needs to be listened to so that it can be appreciated fully. He’s actions are animated and brash - yet his words provide the ideal foil for his synthetic anger and acute observations.

Don Parry is one piece of furniture who hasn’t been removed from The Howcroft over the years. He’s as regular as a Swiss-clock (without the Cuckoo) as he entertains us all with his monologues, his music and his overall level of unmedicated enthusiasm.

Simon Ellis told us that as far as love and relationships are concerned he ‘don’t understand’. Well Simon, you’ve never had an ex-wife bustin’ your buns with ridiculous demands, and all the fall out which that entails - believe me - YOU understand more than most. A wonderful performance - perhaps one of THE main highlights of the night for me personally.

Eric Tomlinson blew sausage balloons to the brim with full rhymes before letting them flap around the room with those screeching high pitched shrills of metre and rhythm - for the puritan it was a celebration of pure, unadulterated poetry. For any fan of something more contemporary - the weight of full rhymes may have lay a little heavy on their stomach. Yet Eric is another regular. Come hail or shine he supports the Howcroft and that should be more than commended with just a few lines.

Val Cook, fresh from her antipodean exploits, unselfishly read a poem blowing a northern hemisphere sunshine up the Ayres Rock of regular Write Out Louders. She embarrassed a few of us with her unsolicited accolades and massaged the tired aching lexicons of those of us foolish enough to write poetry. It was a nice gesture - and that’s when it hit me.

In the time that I’ve been attending the Write Out Loud events, I’ve seen people come - and I’ve seen some people go, but it’s really quite bizarre to think that this group of people had nothing in common other than their love of poetry and/or the spoken word. Some still haven’t. The force that keeps everyone in the same orbit, as it were, is weaker with some than it is with others but that umbilical attachment made up of words, and a love of words and language will never really be severed. Poets are often a crazy, unpredictable, over sensitive, bunch of individuals - put them all together and you never know just what you’re going to get?

Last night was a great night. It didn’t have all the trappings that arrive with the razzamatazz and glitter ball twins. It had that good wholesome feeling. That old fashioned entertainment factor. The type of entertainment that today is so often scoffed at by the many who ‘just don’t get it’.

Dermot Glennon gets it. Gus Johnson gets it. Julian Jordan. Paul Blackburn. The list goes on. I get it. I very nearly forgot that I did, but last night brought something back into focus.

Jane and her daughter Jenny - they get it. Jenny is perhaps too young to understand the great responsibility that comes with ‘getting it’ but I’m sure, just like the rest of us, she’ll suffer for her art - whether that’s with her singing or with her poetry or both.

Linda Morgan, Janet Ramsden, Rachel Bond and Isobel each contributed to a great night while Jefferama made and distributed the cheese sandwiches straight into my fat face, as well as performing some subtle almost melancholic work - which was a pleasant change from Jeffo’.

At the end of the night - any remaining room furniture was auctioned off and all the proceeds are to be used to buy Alan Gray a new joke book. Although his ‘I’ll go for the Juggler’ as an introduction to Winston Plowes was an award winning line to marry with Winston’s award winning poem. A poem that recently won first prize in a categorised writing competition - a category Winston mistakenly submitted into the… under 8’s section.

A win’s a win - Win.



Right...back to Miggle English...
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 11:46 pm
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What can I say that I haven't already said so many times before?
I love reading your reviews Darren...
You always manage to get me laughing out loud ; )

xxx
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 01:58 am
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<Deleted User> (7164)

A good honest review from Darren i think and written in his unique style and very witty way with words. Now where's the photos?
Yes i know, you're busy and should be studying!

Thanks for your contribution on my performances Jane. I'm always a little unsure of the strength of them but the Howcroft is less intimidating to my mind than some venues so i'm more relaxed in my delivery which makes it more enjoyable for me personally.
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 10:12 am
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Quote

"Last night was a great night. It didn’t have all the trappings that arrive with the razzamatazz and glitter ball twins. It had that good wholesome feeling. That old fashioned entertainment factor. The type of entertainment that today is so often scoffed at by the many who ‘just don’t get it’. "

Thank you Darren, your observations ring so true.
`I Get It` Darren enough to miss it,in my flight to the sun. As always a brilliant review and four years is too long.
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 11:05 am
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Well Darren - everyone seems to be getting it but me - am I using the wrong after shave? I did manage to get most of the poetry on the night though - for once, most of it being geared to audience comprehension.
Thanks for taking valuable time out to do us a review and a positive one at that!

Picking up on Janet's comments - I always find the Howcroft more nerve racking than the Tudor. The lights are far too harsh and the audience are almost on top of you. Someone should consider taking away a few light bulbs along with the furniture...
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 02:21 pm
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<Deleted User> (5593)

Great review Darren, I'd forgotten the 'juggler' crack.

Darren's photos are now up in Galleries
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 03:58 pm
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I however, had not.

Tue, 23 Feb 2010 04:48 pm
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<Deleted User> (7164)

Sorry Isobel, i like to see the audience which is quite difficult in the Tudor's too low lighting.
I always have to print my poems out in larger text for the Tudor because the stage is so ill lit for reading purposes. It's great for those who perform from memory and the artistes more used to the lime-light or blue-light in this instance.
Some of the poetry performance virgins find the stage area intimidating.
I also notice there was a mention of the noise levels outside the poetry area which used to be a little off-putting at the Howcroft. I've heard the same said about the Tudor. They did try to accommodate by placing a curtain over one of the performance area doorways but some didn't like that either saying it stopped people from the bar area listening to the poets they wanted to listen to.

It's an on-going issue at Middleton too - Upstairs, downstairs.

and as usual we are going off topic again, ha ha.
Tue, 23 Feb 2010 06:14 pm
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<Deleted User> (5593)

More Photos this time from Rachel Bond
Wed, 24 Feb 2010 09:18 am
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Can I just say that In some of Darrens photos inc the one chosen for the featuresarticle I look like I am asleep. well despitebeen up since 6am on that particular day I was not. I was merely in deep concentration!

It's a win win situation !

Win
Thu, 25 Feb 2010 07:41 pm
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I don't think any of them were flattering Winston. I looked asleep standing up reading my poem. Let's blame it on the lighting, should we?
Thu, 25 Feb 2010 07:43 pm
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yes maybe... In thepic I have 4 chins whereas inreality I only have 3! Outrageous . Win
Thu, 25 Feb 2010 09:14 pm
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<Deleted User> (7164)

To be fair, the photographs should be considered an added bonus and it's very thoughtful of the ones taking them to post them up here.
I rarely like the photos of me in front of a microphone or when actually reading my stuff but hey, it shows we actually do exist. :-)
Fri, 26 Feb 2010 03:39 pm
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Sorry Janet - wasn't meaning to sound critical. Yes, I am always very appreciative of the photographers. It is nice to see a piccie up there - especially if they are flattering LOL - too often they come as a shock - perhaps that's because they freeze frame odd expressions - faces were meant to be mobile...
Fri, 26 Feb 2010 03:52 pm
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<Deleted User> (7164)

Isobel, my comment wasn't directed at you or anyone else here. It was just a comment on my thoughts.
Please don't feel you should explain yourself so much.
Though i do appreciate it. It helps to make sure there's no misunderstandings.

I agree some of the pics can come as a shock.
In my case, i don't always like to be reminded just how many wrinkles i have. If i'm going to continue with this performance poetry lark, i'll have to get some of those very expensive botox injections.
Or maybe not. :-)
I'm not that vain, a softer focus hides a million lines of heartache and confusion. :-)
Fri, 26 Feb 2010 04:51 pm
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