SPOTLIGHT: Poets Out Loud in Cockermouth
‘Poets Out Loud’ has been running in Cockermouth since September 2017. I spoke to Annie Kendall about how the night got started, and continues to grow.
EP:- So, what made you think you should set up a spoken word night in Cockermouth?
AK:- There is a super festival every year here called Cockermouth Live. It's primarily music. The whole town is filled with music in loads of different venues and all free too. In 2017 the organisers asked if we'd like to put a spoken word event in one of the pubs.
We put 12 poets in a pub and got the shock of our lives when the place was packed out. A great response and lots of enquiries for if and when the next one would be and can anybody come along and read?
EP:- So you decided to address a perceived need?
AK:- It was obvious that there were poets looking for places to share and read their work. There is an open mic or music session in or around Cockermouth almost every night, but these are not always poetry "friendly".
So, yes. I set up Poets in the Pub.
Our first meet in August 2017 was awesome. 25 poets turned up, but the pub was just too cramped, noisy and a little bit intimidating for some.
For September we needed to find somewhere more suited to our needs and we're lucky to have here in Cockermouth a super community arts centre, The Kirkgate Centre.
We hire the theatre space and the acoustics are sweet and there is no need for any technical wizardry, just pure raw human voice.
EP:- It sounds fantastic. Do you have guest poets?
AK:- We don't have guests because Poets Out Loud is for local poets to be out loud.
EP:- For you, what are the best bits of running a night like this?
AK:- The connectivity that happens every month. Folks arrive with their poems ready to read. At Poets Out Loud we work our way around the room one poem at a time. You read one poem and then the next person reads theirs. I hasten to add we normally do three, four and sometimes five laps of the room. Anyhow, the highlight is how a common theme or links surface as we make our way round the poets and it always brings a smile and a wonder oooh.
EP:- What about the difficulties of running an event of this kind?
AK:- No real difficulties other than low numbers over the cracking summer months we had. Lesson learned and next year we’re planning to step away from the theatre venue in the summer and take advantage of what we have in this fab corner just to the left of The Lake District.
EP:- Do you have any advice for someone wanting to set up a spoken word night?
AK:- I don't know to be honest, this one kind of fell at my feet and I've just picked it up and run with it. I suppose, "Keep on running!"
EP:- If people are interested in coming along where can they find you?
AK:- Poets Out Loud, meet on the second Wednesday of every month. 8.00pm – 10.30pm (doors at 7.45pm). We meet in the Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth. There is a bar and good access for all.
EP:- Sounds like a lovely night. Thanks for talking to me.