Ralph introduced Geneviève, hair still blue, on the first anniversary of this bloody amazing event. Nobody has explained to me why the compere has to be introduced by somebody else, but never mind. Geneviève seemed to be able to cope on her own. I got the impression she had done this kind of thing before, possibly more than once. I felt safe in her hands.
Sitara Khan took the support slot, the equivalent of the slot that I took in December. She took more trouble over her dress than I did. She wore a dark, silk dress, with a Nehru collar, and dragon patterns on it.
There is virtually no equivalence between what Sitara Khan did, and what I did.
We both come from Leeds, and so, before we go any further, I consider Sitara to be my sister.
She talked about the war in Afghanistan. She talked about the Chilcott report. She performed a piece, the chorus of which was, ‘Allah ‘akbar’.
Her poetry about the Iraq war contained the most graphic references to violence that I have ever heard in a spoken word performance.
Her last piece was called ‘The Bride of Andalucia’. She expatiated about Moorish culture. She didn’t mention that the Bradford and Barnsley Alhambras are the wrong colour.
The last line of this piece, was, “and casts her bouquet to Renaissance Florence.”
That was good. Maybe not the sort of piece you hear once per decade.
The second mentored poet under the 2017 scheme was “Rhythmical Mike”. He appeared with a flat cap on backwards.
The next act was Ralph Dartford and the Bleeding Obvious. The Bleeding Obvious seems to be Jessica Rowbottom playing synthesiser keyboard and “interacting” with an electric guitar and effect pedals.
Jessica Rowbottom is tall and blonde. Ralph Dartford is average height and bald.
They put Ralph’s poems to backing tracks. The best ones were dub reggae. They would have been better if the dub reggae had been allowed to be mi sart a riddim through bass and volume.
Zena Edwards appeared in a red cardigan.
She began with a South African traditional song, which demonstrated that she is an amazing singer. She has an instinctive relationship with the microphone that I have seldom seen.
Getting the audience to clap along did not, in my opinion, improve the experience.
She did a spoken piece which was in waltz 1-2-3 rhythm. I have never heard that, before.
She did various stuff about activism, young people, and climate change. She did a poem, part of which was done in a Southern African style with breath control, that I don’t have a name for, but it was brilliant.
Her weather report about the global situation was very good. After all the stuff about the collapse of global systems, she finished with, “Back to you, Trevor”.
She used her own chest as a percussion instrument, in a way I have never seen before.
I didn’t sing along. For all the brilliance of the performer, it felt cheesy. It felt like being back at school, when the beardy Christians arrived.
Her last piece was an impersonation of an elderly black homeless woman. It is not for me to tell young black women how to impersonate an elderly black woman.
Nevertheless, I would like two things to be understood:
- There is no human progress without female progress.
- There is no human progress other than multi-racial progress.