darren thomas

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The Tudor - National Poetry Day

It was pure coincidence that this year’s National Poetry Day fell on the regular ‘Tudor’ night. In much the same way that my wife’s birthday falls on Halloween. An ironic quirk. Nothing more.
And even if National Poetry Day passed you by - and I imagine it probably did - then spare a thought for those die-hard performance poets'. Those deranged people who not only talk-the-talk, but who walk-the-performance-walk.

Afterall, long before Write Out Loud became the poets’ equivalence of a well known social networking site - it was championed as a site that encouraged ‘Poetry Performance’, and for that, last night’s poets’ should be congratulated. No. They should be LAUDED. Those that didn’t attend should hang their heads into those shameful, steaming piles of rhyming couplets or flagellate their conscious with this month’s heavily berated ‘Poem of the Month’ - because in old money - you missed a good ‘un.

Allan Gray, who I can now safely refer to without having to mention that he was formerly known as ‘Gordon Zola’, was the evening’s compére. A fitting tribute to a man who contributes so much to the North West poetry scene. Allan’s style is not too dissimilar to that of Gordon Zola. The jokes are similar - if not the same. His delivery is just as precise - and his poetry is just as cheesy - with marginally more holes. All this combines to bring out the best from even the most apathetic of Sunday night audiences.

Whereas, last night’s expectant gathering were fuelled with mid-week hysteria and this allowed Allan to grate his cheesiest lines to whoops and cheers - with just the occasional groan.

He introduced Gus Jonsson. That gregarious bouncer of risqé colured balls and prolific spinner of innuendo plates. Being the first poet ‘on’ in never easy - but Gus, armed with years of empirical poetic sidewinders, took it all in his huge stride as he verbalized his recent contributions to the site. Excelanté or as they say here in Wigan - beltin’.

A man who never needs a good beltin’ is Bolton’s Jefferama. Jeff began by informing us of a recent sad loss. The last remaining date for his “Buskin’ for Beer tour” has been cancelled due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. Shame really - especially as there was a Spiritualist/Medium booked for the night after. Who, or so it would appear, ain't THAT good.

Jeff’s poetry was brash - loud - brasher - louder than anything else. This passion was fuelled by his own personal ‘heroes’ in life - which, incidentally, was the loose theme for the evening. Ooh - and Heroines. Apparently.

Dave Carr, a poet I’ve never seen or heard before, delivered a splendid piece about the colour blue. About the word ‘blue’. About anything even remotely connected with ‘blue’. A fantastic poem and performance that came, yes, you guessed it…right out….

Christine Yates is Wigan’s answer to Pam Ayres - perhaps, more Spam Ayres. She read a hysterical poem about her favourite magazines and their bizarre headlines. ‘I caught my husband wearing my pet iguana’ - that sort of thing. It was very, very funny. At more than one point - I laughed out loud. Something a miserable twunt like me rarely does.

Following in Christine’s wake of mirth was Yolande. She read with an assurance that always amazes me. Confident. Precise. Sincere.

‘Kenny’ followed her onto the stage but I only heard his dulcet tones resonating inside the marbled hallowed walls of a Gent’s lavatorial space...

Dave Morgan obliged with the reverence of his presence. Sitting with Dave reminds me of my humble beginnings in Write Out Loud, and the encouragement and learned advice uttered from those thin experiential lips. ‘You have to be stark raving naked to be taken seriously’ - or something along those lines. In fact, it was NOTHING like that. Our conversations are usually tempered with the consequence of ‘Santa’s Toss’ or some other equally inappropriate name that attaches itself to real ale.

Sarah Crowther made her debut performance at the Tudor. I’ve seen Sarah at The Whycroft in Bolton. She’s a wolf wrapped in a Vixen’s coat. Precise diction. Sultry, super vocal delivery. A little Minx from Minxville. Men pay good money to listen to the sort of stuff that Sarah read last night - in the way that she read it. For those who missed out - and purely from memory, the premium telephone number begins 0-8-9-8... Or, save yourself a fortune and catch her performance next time. The red-blooded men in the audience were very nearly exploding.

To temper those emotions, Frankie read one of Pete Crompton’s poems. I don’t know how he does it - but Frankie can make an arse of any literary classic. From what I could comprehend, he was reading ‘Jabber Wocky’ - or he turned Pete’s poem into a more contemporary version of the classic. If I had access to rotting fruit, or a sizeable piece of concrete, I would have thrown it. Fast and hard. With precision. Instead, I resigned myself to watching Pete squirm. Which was good enough for me.

Ian Hayles performed a wonderful piece. Delivered with all the verve that only a Thesp’ can muster. Bouncing eyebrows. Exaggerated intonation. Braaaavo. He exited stage right to whoops, whistles and cheers.

John Togher corrupted a recent Togher classic. The one where he inserts a penis into an unfortunate’s ear canal. It may have been my imagination but at this moment half of the women in the audience winced simultaneously. The other, more liberated half, smiled a knowing smile at their partners.

‘Richard’ was another newby. I didn’t hear him but apparently - he was very good. I was smoking a cigarette outside being stimulated by a 24 year old about the real meaning of insignificant mortality. He convinced me that his generation’s logic and basis for argument is built on nothing but pillars of faecal strength - but he laughed at my ‘jokes’, so we’re now best Facebook friends.

What else can I say? Pete Crompton, Scott Devon - or rather the ‘new look’ Scott Devon. Animated and Windswept respectively.

On the whole, the night went well. Dave Morgan and me made many references to how the night improved and how the atmosphere built with every featured performer. And it did. It took a while to find its level. The grim stains of recent spats were cleansed with pure performance poetry. Isobel, wearing a tartan skirt and fishnets (much to the envy of Pete) put her money where her mouth is - and performed with her established, already self-assured style. Although I did notice that she deviated from the part of the bar where I was standing when she first walked in! Or maybe it’s just me being paraphrased?

Great night. For those that missed it - continue to hang your heads in heaps of National Poetry Day shame - or, see you next month, when it's the National Vodka Drinking Championships.

Fri, 9 Oct 2009 10:12 am
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another Beltin' good read Darren... thanks
Fri, 9 Oct 2009 11:37 am
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Dave Carr- ah yes i remember him, from Chorley if my memory serves me correctly. Not new to the poetry scene but was new to the Tudor a few months ago. A night when i had rather foolishly offered to do the menial task of taking the poets particulars of the poets who attended, quite a few there were too that night. Unfortunately, something had come up at the last minute for the designated compere and phew was i relieved to see Allan Gray!
He has a wonderful knack of turning up at just the right moment and took over almost immediately with a grateful thanks for my assistance.

I believe there were three new poets on that occasion, two of them poetry performance ''virgins,'' needing just a little support and help in knowing how long they had to perform their chosen pieces.

National poetry day was blissfully peaceful without poetry for me this year. Sometimes it feels good to get away from it all for a while. Maybe a ''National No Poetry day'' could be invented. Give us all a break.

Agree with Winston, yet another great review!
Do give my regards to Simon when you see him next Darren. He paid you some lovely compliments that night. So lovely i was rendered speechless.
Fri, 9 Oct 2009 03:08 pm
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Janet - perhaps Simon was being ironic?
Darren - yes you are being paranoid. Surely you must be used to the bar emptying around you?
Before everyone starts to get their guns out again, can I assure you that was just a bit of tongue in cheek humour. Despite the fish nets, I am in no mood for more mud wrestling or slinging.
I would have to agree with Simon and speechless Janet - Darren is the nicest, kindest most sensitive and sympathetic poet on the site. What a lovely review Darren - well done.
Fri, 9 Oct 2009 06:12 pm
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darren thomas

Now I'm worried!
Sat, 10 Oct 2009 12:52 pm
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Thank you for your review (I think?) If I'd known all I had to do was write something sexy to get people talking, I would have done it ages ago, it's too easy.
Sat, 10 Oct 2009 01:03 pm
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Thanks for the review and comments. It all helps to reduce the nerves on stage. Thanks also to Allan for a really kind introduction. Enjoyed the evening very much. Some good stuff. Cheers.
Sat, 10 Oct 2009 08:43 pm
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