Not retro but metro: Write Out Loud Sale displays its range of poetic styles
I arrived at Write Out Loud Sale a little shame-faced, ready to hand myself in, as it were, not having attended for a while. And, like a child, it had grown since my last visit. My!
The venue at the Waterside arts centre has shifted to the gallery proper, now boasting a proper bar and more open-mic-poetry-shaped room. The artworks seem to have boosted the ambience for poetry, which, symbiotically, adds to the ambience of this, the Waterside arts centre, whose location is more prosaic than its name suggests. It’s next to the canal, though the piazza lends it an air of something grander.
We have run this event for several years with a great following and top poetry, as was the case on Tuesday 17 March. Organiser/compere and Firm of Poets founder member, John Darwin, pictured, has an understated style, perfect for reader encouragement, of a type I had witnessed at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club. John and Nikhil should compare notes.
Sylvia Plath’s spirit seemed to be on the prowl that evening, presumably muttering “it will not do”, as a “fathers” theme emerged from several readers.
Heather Henry related her groundbreaking work with young dads in Salford’s metaphorical last chance café, with considerable eloquence and observation; there was Potting Shed Pete’s a nice piece of cod cookery; Big Charlie Poet, who organises pop-up poetry in Lancaster Sainsbury’s café with a well-observed, and much appreciated, piece about dads not talking to their children in the checkout queue; a man with a beard whose name I missed, dreaming of an acceptable curry in the land of his residence, Melancholia –not sure if inner or outer; Sarah L Dixon, who was quietly compering in John’s absence last time I was here, had a lovely poem on how to build a father, or ‘pop’.
Ian Whiteley added his considerable poetic presence, wittily introducing a darker note with his revelations (must be a book in it) about living next door to house number 666, thus being the neighbour of the beast, as well as a lovely paean of praise for Pete Seeger, ‘Serendipity Spangle’, though I am not sure if he was suggesting Seeger was in Vietnam. Dave Stanage’s clever poem on tree dwellers at B&Q brought mirth to proceedings; previous Sale guest poet Kate Bendelow makes it difficult to believe she has only been writing since 2013; Mansoor’s reflections on the North Yorkshire coast yielded fine images; Joy France rounded off with even finer images: a bevy of burlesque bosoms doing aqua-aerobics. I read my short poem about how my generation of men did not fit in with either their war-hero fathers’, nor feminist wives’ views of what it means to be a man.
Guest poets Steve Nash and Anna Percy were generous in their praise of Write Out Loud for its part in helping them to achieve what they have - in Steve’s case the Saboteur award for performance, knocking Kate Tempest into second spot. Both provided a set to more than justify their invitations. Steve’s was assured and award-worthy, whilst Anna’s confessional style is what endears her to her many admirers; a few more following this display, I do not doubt. See more of Anna at her own event,Stirred Poetry..
The Sale night has a unique feel about it in Write Out Loud terms: of our seven nights, this is the most metropolitan, reflecting the panoply of poetic styles that make up the Manchester scene. Under John Darwin’s stewardship it has continued to build on the excellent foundations of Steve O’Connor and Rob Tame before him. A superb night that has been a platform for furthering several poetic careers. Get yourself a platform ticket at the next Sale night.