Jump to most recent response

Puzzle Poets Twentieth Year

A wonderful woman called Jill, known more generally as SpaceCat, being an afficianado of the Puzzle Hall Inn and its broad spectrum of musical events, which at the time included a weekly Jazz lineup of national significance, decided to push the boundaries of culture a little further, and announced the start of a Poetry night. The year was 1994, and it was a cold and starry night when along with a number of other hopeful versifiers, I took my folder into the Puzzle Hall Inn, not sure what to expect.
What I found was a warm welcome, and a small group of writers and poetry lovers, with a wide range of skills and ambitions. Jill herself plays music and dances a great deal, and studies languages, and works full time for the local council. But she loves poetry, and put herself out to encourage all those who came to read their work confidently and share their ideas.
Twenty years later the Puzzle Poets Live is still going. Last night was packed out. I had to sneak some stools from the other bar before the chess club arrived to make sure most of our visitors were seated.
What has changed in twenty years?
We now have a thick red curtain to damp down the enthusiastic conversation in the other bar, and we now have a guest for the first session, after which we still have an open mic, which can roll well into the deep of the night. Last night we had 18 poets reading. I know the crowd had been attracted by the Guest, the wonderful Genevieve Walsh whose fame reaches far and wide, but every month we have been growing our audience. Whatever we do it is very popular.
Poetry has been up and down in twenty years. Performance poetry and open mic fluctuates in and out of fashion, and it is on the up at the moment.
What attracts people to read and to listen to others at open mic events?
I think it is the sheer humanity of sitting listening to the thoughts in other peoples heads, spoken aloud by a fellow human being. Interesting thoughts, well expressed, is a very basic definition of poetry.

Whatever drives it, I love the Puzzle Poetry nights. I feel it is a community I belong to, and that first Monday of every month becomes a place that feels both safe and adventurous at the same time.
What more could anyone ask?
Tue, 6 Jan 2015 03:42 pm
message box arrow
Thanks for this very interesting read, Freda. A key word for me in your piece is "community". Interesting that you've seen good and bad times over 20 years, and reckon that open mic is on the up at the moment. Long may that continue!
Wed, 7 Jan 2015 03:54 pm
message box arrow
succinctly put, Freda:
...the sheer humanity of sitting listening to the thoughts in other peoples heads, spoken aloud by a fellow human being. Interesting thoughts, well expressed, is a very basic definition of poetry.

That is it, the essence, of an open mic poetry event. And, in the light of recent events in Paris, being able to do so without fear of condemnation or worse.

Long live the sharing of well expressed thoughts at Puzzle Poets.
Fri, 9 Jan 2015 01:04 am
message box arrow
It is easy to understand the "buzz" obtained
from performing one's work "live" before an
audience, especially when making a visible
connection. Also, to sit back and enjoy the
words of others and "compare notes". The pub
has been a justly successful venue for these
communal gatherings: remember how music/singing goes down so well in such places. The spoken
word seems a highly logical complimentary art
form.
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 03:02 pm
message box arrow
Hurrah, the Puzzle Poets enter their 21st year very soon.
Hope to see you all in Sowerby Bridge on Jan 4th, Monday 7.30 for a brilliant evening.
Mon, 28 Dec 2015 08:16 pm
message box arrow
I have found the Puzzle Poets to be the most welcome, exciting mixture of poets and poetry that I have had the pleasure of attending. I have been living in the local area for four years, and started going in August 2013 when the guest poet was none other than John Foggin - now one of the organizers of the night. I shall never forget his deft, acutely observed and chillingly beautiful poems, and how the evening served up one after another fantastic poet. I try to get to as many Puzzle Poets as possible and it has been one of the key steps for me in developing the confidence to read my own work. Some of the highlights for me include that first experience, late 214 when we almost all seemed to be reading bird poems, Genevieve Walsh's guest poet slot in Jan '15, Steve Nash with his legendary "Hutch" poem, and the recent appearance by Keith Hutson who read from his forthcoming collection about 1950's musical hall and variety stars. The guest poets are always superbly introduced by Bob Horne, whose own readings are also a privilege to hear, while Freda's closing readings (sometimes featuring poems of hers written years ago, bringing those time periods to life, and sometimes consisting of aptly chosen poems by others) are always a thought-provoking and satisfying finale. Happy 21ST, Puzzle Poets - I look forward to joining you for many more adventures in poetry, and to being present for any birthday bash.


Tue, 5 Jan 2016 08:00 pm
message box arrow

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message