Before we go any further, I will admit that this article is not a review of the whole event. Two people performed, namely, Geneviève Walsh, and Steve Williams, whose performances were of particular interest to me.
The first act was Ric Neale, on electric piano and vocals. What he does, he does very well. What he did on the night, he did to the appreciation of the audience. Not mi sart a riddim. Not mi sart a lyric.
Steve Williams arrived on stage wearing a bow tie and 1970s shirt ruffles. He was clearly going to make a statement.
He mentioned that his poem, ‘Swifts’ was about this relationship with his father. He also said, “I had to come out to him, twice.”
‘Boy, Mid-flight’, is not a poem about the arbitrary murder of a young, gay man. It is a poem about the emotional connection between the narrator, and a young, gay man who gets killed.
After delivering this tour de force, Steve seemed to gain confidence. He took the microphone off the stand, in a Luke Wright stylee. I think there might have even been a bit of flex-wrapping. The audience was hooked.
Let’s get this clear: a predominantly straight man gave demonstrative fashion direction to a predominantly gay man. In Wakefield, West Yorkshire. That is my world. That is the world that I will fight for.
I was in tears by the end of Steve’s performance. This was a testament to Steve’s talent, and to his mentorship with Matt Abbott. I understand that Matt contributed to the choice of shirt front.
The Impunity Words mentoring scheme goes from strength to strength.
The Pandemonium Poets began with Stan, from the Black Horse Poets. He did, ‘Leaving Footprints in the Sand’, a poem about the terrorist attack in Tunisia, and, ‘Strangely Enough, McGough’, a pastiche of Roger McGough.
Stan was followed by Stewart from Featherstone. His rhymed poem would have been more brilliant if he hadn’t forgotten the words, three-quarters of the way through. I commend him for using sun-glasses in a way that actually was relevant to what he was reciting.
Geneviève Walsh arrived on stage, looking like a 32 year-old goth who was going to launch the hell out of a debut collection. She has blurbs from Kate Fox, Louise Fazackerley, and Steve Nash, and an introduction from Henry Normal.
I don’t get a mention in the text, but I did get a mention in the intro to, ‘They Ain’t Heavy’.
The headliner was Jess Green, from Leicester.
I didn’t like her rap style.
I didn’t get her persona: who is speaking.
There were fast bits and slow bits. The fast bits were too fast, and the slow bits were too slow.
My delivery style derives from W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice, and Alan Bennett. You may say it is antiquated, and that makes me out of touch with contemporary audiences.