That people thing … enjoying poetry for real at our live open-mic poetry venue again
For the past month or so Write Out Loud has been heralding the return of live, in-person open-mic poetry all over the country – and last night I experienced it for myself, on a cold, wet Thursday, the last day of September. Write Out Loud Woking was back at its pre-pandemic venue, the Lightbox art gallery and museum in Woking, for the first time since early 2020 – and how good it was to be back! There were the lovely, familiar faces – and some new ones, too, both poets and audience. For Covid-security reasons, and to keep a sensible lid on numbers to start with, the Lightbox had temporarily taken over ticketing arrangements – and this produced a different mix on our comeback night. It’s likely that we will be adjusting the ticketing numbers next month, to ensure as many poets can read as want to, if possible.
The 18-month lull had also resulted in two other regular, pre-pandemic events at the Lightbox no longer taking place, involving comedy fans and scientists. A shame for the Lightbox – but it did result in a quieter atmosphere in the café for our poetry readings.
One of the first things that hit me was how some poems work so much better in a real, live environment than on Zoom. Our penultimate poet, Chris Johnson, pictured, performed an ‘Ancient Mariner’ of a poem, a maritime epic complete with grimaces, contortions and flying arms which simply would not have worked online. It was a joy to behold, and reminded us all what real, live poetry is all about.
As I suspected, I seemed to have lost a few more inhibitions as a compere at the mic during the 18 months of lockdown. Whether that it is a good thing, or simply a question of age, I cannot say.
And don’t get me wrong – Zoom is still here to stay, for Write Out Loud Woking, at any rate. As long as there is still the demand, we are still very happy to welcome poets from all the country – from all over the world, if needs be – on another, separate night each month.
I woke up this morning feeling that I've had a shot in the arm, a 'booster' ... it must be seeing people again.