Last week I attended my first Fringe event; not the famous Edinburgh one of course, that is not until August but the Guildford Fringe Festival at G Live. The event I went to was known as “Pop up Poetry,” or “Word play.” I was intrigued to find out more.
I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend Chris, who I met at Ruth Brandt’s creative writing courses three years ago. We share a love of all things “writing” and as Chris has an interest in poetry, we thought we would give it a go.
I have to say at this point, that I don’t really have an interest in poetry; not that I don’t like it but because usually it is too deep for my limited intellect and I don’t understand most of it!
But as Chris so eloquently pointed out, it was only a fiver a ticket, so if it was rubbish, we could always go for a drink and a natter in the bar. So we set off with no great expectations, just an evening of pleasant company and if it was entertaining, that would be a bonus.
When we arrived, I was impressed by the size and style of the G Live building; I can understand now how concerts and larger events can be held there. Our event was in a smaller studio, to the side of the main building and had a small gathering of 30, seated at tables dotted about the room, which made for a very cosy ambience.
There were six artistes and the first performance was by Donal Dempsey, who with his long, curly grey hair, entertained us with his own inimitable Irish style of poetry. He was funny, passionate and best of all; understandable at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised that some poetry is rude; in context of course, not gratuitous. His subjects were ones anybody could relate to and as life has highs and lows; he expressed both impressively, with a few swear words thrown in for good measure.
So far so good.
Next was Louise Etherington, who if I thought Donal was rude; she took it to another level! I really enjoyed her poetry, it was so funny (to me and the rest of the audience it seemed) and I thought if poetry is like this; then I like it. I have to point out at this stage that my sense of humour is lavatorial, and her type of poetry may not be to everybody’s taste but I found her hysterical and I think she has converted me. She reminded me a bit of Pam Ayres but more controversial.
Following Louise, was Eddie Chauncy. His style was of the type that I am normally scared of because I don’t understand it. I have to say though; it was beautiful the way he used words to convey feelings and if I wasn’t such a cave girl, would have enjoyed it more. Chris liked his poetry best I think I am correct in saying; she is not a philistine like me.
After a quick interval, another trip to the bar and back to our cosy table for a chat, we were ready for the second half and chose not to scarper after all.
Anna Kahn was next and though good, I was a little confused when she started singing jazz songs halfway through her poem! She explained that she had been brought up in a house hold filled with Jazz by her father who was a musician and that the songs just were in her head constantly. Although she had a repertoire of about 52 songs, she didn’t know the names of any of them; they just invaded her brain. Very strange; she had a soulful voice, which reminded me a bit of Amy Winehouse.
Moving swiftly on; next was Anna Freeman from Apples and Snakes poets group, along with Adam Kammerling (who I will come to shortly), acclaimed as “nationally celebrated spoken word performers”. Anna is from Bristol and a creative writing teacher as well as a poet and travels around the country with Adam to entertain audiences at their “gigs.”
I really enjoyed Anna’s performance; I could relate to some of the situations she had been in life and she made her experiences so funny, when really they must have been pretty tough. She has a book of her poems, which she read from on stage and I enjoyed them so much, I may buy a copy; that’s how much I liked them. I think I have been converted to poetry after only an hour; what a revelation! It was so refreshing to realise that not all poetry is what I used to think of as “arty farty, flowery nonsense.”
Adam Kammerling exploded onto the stage after Anna to entertain us with his rapping style poems. Another first for me; I never would have guessed that you could express poetry through rapping! The effect was infectious but you had to pay complete attention because the speed of the words was challenging to keep up with! I think it could catch on though, I also think this young man is one to watch out for in the future.
All in all, a jolly good show which has completely changed my view on poetry.