Review from “Daniel Merrill and his Adventures” blog. For the full article see http://danielmerrill.posterous.com/some-kind-of-poetry-thing
One of the great things about living in a town like Colchester (and there are a few – I stand by that), is that you occassionally meet a few people that get something interesting going, and because there is so little of anything like it going on they really divest so much energy into making it something special.
The capitalists amongst us might argue that without competition there is no drive for innovation and quality… that you have to compete in a Darwinian sense to get something of real quality – that you need a it to be a slam to have worth. Well nothing affirms the blinkered idiocy of such views as Some Kind of Poetry Thing – a collective of local poets who have taken to performing their work in a renegade style at concerts, local community events, in oubs and bars and on the streets – whether invited or not. Here we see the other side of the story of evolution, what Kropotkin called mutual aid.
There is no sense of competition here. The group was started last year when Steve Lawton decided to book a room at the newly relocated Slackspace (our local community ran gallery) to create a meet up event for local poets to present and discuss their work, helping each other to learn – not for any financial gain, not a poetry slam, just to meet up, listen and discuss. Competition did not come into it – how often at a poetry slam will you hear a half hour discussion about a praticular work? You don’t it does not matter – it’s all about the glory of winning – not actually about improving anything.
But here at Some Kind of a Poetry thing there is something else growing, and it would be difficult to say that it has a target or an aim; maybe just this is just agroup of friends who inspire each other getting together and sharing that exhuberance with others (and maybe that is what more people need to be doing in this world – and not worrying about the glory or the money).
I am not saying that none of this group would not want to be published (and I certainly think that they should be – every last one of them), but there is something of much greater integritty here – this is a community that has formed around the written and spoken word, and without seeking the demand of the populace they do not need to compromise their ideas, and are free to tackle the things that make their work great – their reactions to the world around them.
This is typified by last nights offerings, At Dead Air Live (an experimental arts night ran by Lee Ashcroft).
Tess’ work spans a range of intense feeling and emotion that it was a truly powerful performance to see. Her opening piece was introduced as being about domestic violence. A powerful opening piece which far from being a sombre pittying work grows from a deep sense of personal trauma, and gradually pans out to reveal the way in which misogyny and violence against women has permeated and is still accepted in so much of our society, and weaves powerful feminist narratives about the reduction of womens place in society and of victim blaming.
Her later pieces trace the stories on themes of isolation, through the imaginings of an old lady in a care home (insspired by the poets employment), and a revelation of emotions and appeal to a loved one. Her work is at once tuly personal, but carries carefully crafted and considered social messages.
Fred Slattern (Colchester’s Slum Poet)
Continuing the theme of social questioning, but through a very different lense – Fred’s work is almost continually laced with a rampant sense of the silly and seemingly inane, as his pieces pick at and dissect the images and motives that make up the world around us. There is great wit in these expertly crafted word plays and run on sentences that gradually distort white middle class suburban life into polite rockstar car crashes, organic cheddar riots,
Beneath the wonderful humour of this there are rich questions being posed; we are led to think of our childhood expectations, our adult hopes, falling into security, losing our dreams, finding new dreams.
The continnual patter of images leave the mind jumpting to keep up, yet paint a tappestry that is it is hard not to become absorbed in, a thousand snap shots, each with an observation leading to the questioning of the things we value, and our motivations.
Just Some Guy
If there is on thing to be said for Steve Lawton (Just Some Guy) it is that he is not just that. As the founder of the group he has clearly had abig influence on thosearound him, and this inspirational positivity shines through in his work. Introducing himself he modestly state that he just wants to bring a little bit of joy into peoples life. and this he does. Drawing on the demons of his past we have a rolling list of non-escapades – the way he wanted his childhood to be, to what actually happened, and the crisis that occurs when you let your fears take over. But the beauty of this, and in all of Steve’s work is that he has overcome these demons and the exhuberance with which he speaks of the present and the future leave a resounding and palpable feeling of wonder in the world around. The challenge he presents his audience with is the most simple to understnad, yet at times the most difficult to do… see the joy in life and don’t let it be taken away.
There are more in this group who I either missed (sorry) or did not perform that night – and are definitely worth checking out – The Rev Doctor Ian Prolix (Lee Ashcroft) and Piers Harrison-Reid (who I hope to post a video of soon). Having seen them previously – I cannot recomend them enough!
So Colchester – listen up – you have some great talent here, and they are working hard. Get out and see these people, because this is something from your community. This is part of your world, not in some mediated, advert saturated, artistically compromised way – but direct – face to face – caring – approachable – and passionate way. After you have spent a night with these people you will not look at Colchester the same again!
Plus links to Colchester Chronicle and Simon Rudkins, plus testimonial from Brundall.