Romance, satire and politics as Liverpool puts on a show

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Many of Liverpool’s poets gathered in the elegant performance space of Leaf bar in the city’s bohemian Bold Street to be filmed for a featured slot on the Guardian’s website on Monday night.

Phil Bowen, poet, playwright and biographer of the Mersey poets, compered the night with flair and wit. There was romance and satire from the poets, plus a fair bit of left-radical politics (hey, this is Liverpool) and a great deal of celebration of the city and its culture.

The first part of the evening featured guest readers. Colin Watts of the Dead Good Poets Society opened with a fine poem, Heart of the City. He also gave us a warning that “socialism’s not dead, it’s just resting” which gained, I sensed, a largely sympathetic response from the audience.

Next up was me for the Liver Bards. I did three love poems, including a new one Look into my Cliches. My third poem, come to think, was more about having a stalker than anything to do with love. It elicited sniggers.

Sarah Maclennan from the Dead Goods was up next. Her contributions included a poem about Liverpool where “bronze statues query pigeons” and an impressive and eerie poem about Cane Hill Hospital (which I think is an abandoned asylum).

Michael Egan, of Holdfire Press and the city’s Villainelle Club, gave us the memorable line “the greed of gannets is good manners”, and made clever use of dialect words “jard” (fake) and “flim” (five pound note) in  a work of smartly shifting perspectives.

Eleanor Rees commanded attention with her chronicling of the “Arne” – a mythical half-bird / half-man having adventures around the Mersey estuary. Rebecca Goss did a poem that was both sensual and challenging about a man, his wife, and a one-legged girl, if I understood it correctly. Mandy Coe neatly evoked the more kinetic and tactile communications of earlier eras with her poem Ringers.

The second part of the evening was reserved for open mic slots, and if anything these tended to be timed longer than the guest slots. On reflection, that could, if adopted elsewhere, shake up the poetry scene considerably and ruffle a few egos.

I can’t mention everybody who read, but I greatly enjoyed Alison Down’s sensitive and funny piece about a boy poet at the football who found himself “offside, outside, relegated from the team, just for knowing a rhyme scheme”. Alison also nailed the great phrase “playing keepy-upy with words”. I’ve invited her to read at the Liver Bards.

There were some great sensual poems from Michelle Wright, who was for so long associated with the Wirral Ode show in Birkenhead. And very surreal, very entertaining stuff from another familiar local face from the Liverpool and Wirral poetry scenes, Liam Brayd. But I was disappointed Liam didn’t do his poem Raging Dull, which is a personal favourite of mine.

A very good night! In truth, I wasn’t really in the mood to perform and be filmed at Leaf – as I’m very tired and stressed currently – but I’m glad I hauled my arse over there. And it was good to end the night over the river at New Brighton’s Casino, having a meal and wine at 1am with poets Michelle Wright and Paul Harris. 


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Thu 24th Jan 2013 21:11

Sounds like a good night with some interesting poetry. I'd be very intrigued to hear a poem about a man, his wife and a one legged girl - it all sounds very off beat.

Enjoyed the review.


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