Hey! As well as reading at GameCity in Nottingham, I’ve co-run two live poetry events over the past month, both in locations as yet untested (so far as I’m aware) by London’s writers and spoken word artists. I also rustled up (and I do mean rustled up – timing was very tight) the above flyers for each of them.
Metamorphic Rock, the programme for which I organised with Abigail Parry, took place at The Huntingdon Gallery in Shoreditch during an exhibition of rock n’ roll photography by Bob Gruen. The conceit for the poets and poems we commissioned was re-imagining New York’s Chelsea Hotel in its heyday, taking a rock icon or related subject and refashioning them according to the poet’s stylistic predilections. Along with the exhibition, one corner of the large, boomy space afforded to us had been furnished with a bed and decorated to look like a teenage pop fan’s bedroom. We had work new and old from John Canfield, Harry Man, Holly Hopkins, Sophia Blackwell, Roddy Lumsden, James Trevelyan, Mark Waldron, John Clegg, Alex Bell, Alex MacDonald and Matthew Caley.
Seven Player Co-op took place at the recently-opened Four Quarters Bar in Peckham, which is rammed with working arcade machines and consoles. Kirsten Irving, my co-organiser, discovered it and liaised with the owners about putting on the event, which featured readings from contributors to Coin Opera 2, and a quiz with prizes. Our seven players were the hosts, plus Gabrielle Nolan, Emily Hasler, Samuel Prince, Harry Man and Cliff Hammett, with a surprise guest appearance from S.J. Fowler.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been so closely involved with putting on readings like these in London, largely because they’re such a demanding pursuit, and over so quickly. It’s hard to find venues that aren’t upstairs rooms in pubs, and hard to build an audience for a one-off literary show, particularly with no budget and no partnership with any of the more heavyweight arts organisations and their networks. But it can be done. And what’s not hard is finding willing, skilled, enthusiastic performers who’re a joy to watch.
Here’s a snippet from S.J. Fowler’s ‘Golden Axe’ poem, dramatically underlit: