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The Comedy of Errors

Nottingham Poetry Festival 2018: Another Manic Monday

24 April 18 words: LP Mills

This festival has us rushing about like a bunch of blue-arsed flies, and we love it. Here's today's round-up of all the groovy poetry that came out of Monday 24th April, 2018. 

I started last night in a cramped coffee shop, rubbing shoulders (quite literally, as it happens) with veterans of the Nottingham poetry scene. Totally Wired, a regular event hosted at Wired Cafe Bar in Hockley, touted some big names in recognition of the festival, including readings from LeftLion's poetry editor Aly Stoneman and Mr. Universe himself Rich Goodson. 

The event began with a lively example of communal creativity. The host, Becky Cullen, encouraged audience members to "seize the methods of production" with an open workshop activity in which individual lines of poetry were written on a piece of paper that was subsequently passed around to be completed by other members of the audience. Giddy teamwork and daft collaboration produced some surprisingly poignant pieces, written by the collective as opposed to any one author. 

This collaboration led onto the work of Aly Stoneman, whose lilting and lyrical poetry highlights the importance of the natural environment. Borrowing heavily from her early years in the Devonshire countryside, her poetry explored the ways in which the pastoral and the urban overlap and intermingle in constant flow and recession. 

Next up was the musical stylings of Fran Cullen, who commanded attention with a brief acoustic set during the intermission. Fran comes across as a deeply talented singer still in the process of perfecting her performance, and in the intimate atmosphere of the cafe this was exactly the right fit. 

The final performer before the open mic, itself a highlight and featuring poets both seasoned and fledgling, was Rich Goodson. Wry, dry, and full of wit, Goodson's poetry is informed by his work teaching English to migrant students. Political and moving in a way that was not in-your-face, Goodson portrays his life and the lives of those around him with a high degree of wit and charm. He was also kind enough to lend me a pen, as I had forgotten mine. 

The next event I ended up at was Clickbait number 6, another regular night hosted by poetry guru and self-confessed "Proud Poetry Mum" Chris Lanyon. The night featured a range of young poets, many of whom delivered their pieces in such a way that the passion and fire seemed difficult to contain. Featured poets Tyrell Peters and Oz Ozinanir, whose dispirit styles contrasted pleasantly against one another, showcased some of Nottingham's better underground artistry, with Peters' blend of hip-hop and spoken word discussing everything from social inequality to the lives and experiences of young men, and Ozinanir's touching poetry betraying a depth of emotion just beneath the surface. 

Now onto the headliners. Stone the crows these two were good. Kaia Hristova bounded up to the stage and was topless within five minutes, wanting to express a vulnerability that is very visible in her work. Back to the open window (I counted 41 double-takes from passers-by) she rattled through heartfelt and personable pieces with ease and buoyant charm. Her friend and partner-in-crime Jim Sharpe follows up with acerbic, brutal, witty and beautiful poetry, full of kink and spite and charm and delight. Reminiscent of dance-hall satirist Tom Lehrer, the distinction in tone between his work and Hristova's served only to highlight the best features of both. 

There you have it, folks. A great way to start the week, the events I attended on Monday acted as a nice salve to the pains of the fading weekend. 

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