With Blood As Red As Lipstick I Knew The Gift Of Pain Till A Star Child Opened A Rainbow At Almost 5 AM (A Review Of Love Songs And Poems By David Lee Morgan)

Hey Readers  

It has to be said that anything by David Lee Morgan (pictured above) is always worth watching I make this point as in my opinion this former BBC slam champion is a powerhouse poet whose words leave an imprint on the canvass of your heart. So it was with great relish I went to see his latest poetic production Love Songs And Poems.

Yes you have read that correctly there were no political polemics this year. This was David Lee Morgan tackling what I think is the hardest topic of them of all to do credibly in the space of a 50 minute show and not only showing that it can be done but it can be done with considerable aplomb.

David Lee Morgan is a man driven by passion and that passion impacts on all areas of his life committing him to the best he can be in every way possible and that applies to love just as it does to his music and his poetry. He started the show with a poem on the deepest passion of all unrequited love. Tripwire is a brilliant introduction to the show and to David Lee Morgan’s intense and thought provoking style.

This opening number shows the burning desire between two people who know they will be forever intertwined but also know they can never be together despite knowing each other in ways that no-one else ever will come close to understanding.

This was followed by the hauntingly beautiful poem Ghost, which illustrates, perfectly the bonds of childhood and Catholic Love in which love wears a stricter coat when administered by the church. These were followed in no particular order by Who You Are, Star Child, Field Research, Poem For The Ex, and the catchy and excellent song You Only Listen When I Lie.

I particularly like the opening lines in Star Child ‘The problem is you sparkle. You can’t hide your inner light. To me this conveys the message that the star child has powers she herself may not even be aware of. The power of seduction being at least to me the most obvious of these. I validate my comments by quoting these lines ‘Walk in to the sun and it shrinks. Disco lights do the same thing. Maybe I am wrong but I interpret this to mean that all else fades in comparison when you with the one who in your eyes shines brighter than anyone else

This to me represents Morgan at his best. With sharp well honed lines and excellent use of imagery, the man showed why he’s a master of his craft as he produced poem after poem of supreme quality which he delivered with such intensity that the audience would have to be deaf or living in a parallel universe not to be convinced of his passion.

Nowhere was this more evident than in what I regard as his seminal poem The Gift Of Pain. It is my view Morgan’s best work as he champions the cause of the oppressed and those at the margins of society by stating that what often passes for strength may actually be a weakness and what passes for weakness may truly be a strength. When Morgan performs this poem it is with a red raw passion which conveys genuine emotion and demonstrates the warmth and sincerity of the man

Morgan’s compassion for humanity is demonstrated throughout his work and in the poem The Pole he shows his anger at the crucifixion of Jesus asking when thinking of the cross ‘ How can they nail you to it?’ answering his own question with the lines ‘ But they did. You were so beautiful. Your blood as red as lipstick’ This is beyond doubt one of the most powerful and visually stunning images I have ever heard on describing the crucifixion of Jesus and the metaphor of lipstick as blood is one I find particularly appealing as it shows the passion of Christ for his people.

As a poet myself though not remotely in this man’s calibre I really enjoy hearing lines jump out at you and for whatever reason make you think smile or both at the same time. It is I think safe to say that David Lee Morgan has an abundance of such lines scattered throughout his work. One of my favourite examples comes in the poem Who You Are when describes the subject as being like ‘A child opening a rainbow. On the first birthday party of the universe.

This to me captures an aura of wonderful and miraculous excitement that the joy of it cannot be contained. If ever words painted an image of happiness then this was surely it and it was painted in our hearts by a true master craftsman of his art.

This craft can also be illustrated in Morgan’s poem Running Into The Wave. This was one of a number of poetic fliers I was given after the show which had the time and venue of the show on the left hand side a poem to right of it. This is an excellent form of advertising as it will tend to attract the right type of audience to come and see the show.

In this poem our poet takes a far more cynical view of love where he shows that sometimes compassion, goes out the window just at the time it may be most needed. This brilliant but disturbing look at the human condition was written at the time of the Tusmani in 2004 when because of the brutal power of nature sweeping all before them people had but one aim to escape that hell alive. Morgan describes what it must have been like to be trapped in those conditions as all you knew disappeared in front your eyes and in these lines sums up the idea of love as survival. ‘ Imagine you are the stock market of the world And that a million people can be swept away without causing a flicker of your ticker tape so long as they are poor’. This is love at its most primal as you put yourself first without a thought for others.

This is love in its cruellest and deadliest form. This is the love we all have but seldom use. This is however still love and we have to acknowledge its power.as one day we may all have to use it. 

In contrast to the kind of selfish love Morgan described in Running Into The Wave, It’s Almost 5 am takes a more gentle almost serene look at the topic. This poem is written about the lover sleeping beside him at that time in the morning just before dawn breaks and starts with the lines Going back to sleep in a minute just thought I’d blow you another kiss. This shows love at its most tender and intimate and it illustrates a poet who is comfortable expressing the emotional side of his nature.

In the penultimate piece of the show which represented the final poem of night David Lee Morgan shows compassion for a friend who has a hard time in life in the brilliant Visit to Grandpa’s This poem illustrates the poet’s desire to help someone who is struggling to cope with the challenges they face and the difficulties those challenges have brought them.

David Lee Morgan concluded an excellent and breathtaking show with a song so powerful it brought tears my eyes and I don’t think I was the only one who will have seen teardrops on hearing this song. The story behind the song which was titled My Little Sister tells of a young man who wanted to join the U S army but one days his younger sister came home from school crying and he knew the reason why and when he found out who did it let’s just say the teacher got what was coming.

The problem was that being a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business and that included the jury and the judge. However, the judge and the townsfolk felt sorry for a boy who would never have committed a crime under normal circumstances and cut a deal with the army so he could join immediately and not have to wait till he was 18. I don’t know the name of the man concerned and I don’t need to. What I do know is he served his country in Vietnam and now a veteran told his story to a poet and musician the result of which is one of the most stunning songs I’ve ever heard and a fitting way to bring the curtain down on a virtuoso performance.

This in my opinion was a show that had everything. It had poems to make you think, songs to make you cry and more pearls of wisdom than you’ll find in a jewellery shop. It was with blood as red as lipstick I knew the gift of pain till a star child opened a rainbow at almost 5 am.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

A Real Poet Smashed The Cultural Class Ceiling And Gave It A Good A Good Matt Finish ( A Review Of The Class Ceiling By Monkey Poet AKA Matt Panesh ) 

Hey Readers 

Eventually it had to happen, and it did and I made my annual appearance at this year’s  show by the one and only Monkey poet. 

Now, Monkey Poet real name Matt Panesh is not only one damn fine poet he is also one of the good guys and having attended all of spoken word shows since 2010 I have built up a good friendship with him over the years. So when I go to see him in the Banshee Labyrinth I know exactly what to expect and that is an hour of top class entertainment.

As for this year’s show entitled the Class Ceiling our resident monkey split his performance in to three different parts with a structure which has more in common with a play than a traditional spoken word show. Whilst this may have come as a surprise to others who were not in the audience on the night I attended it didn’t shock me in the slightest.  You see I know Matt’s theatrical skills and I knew he could and indeed would pull this off with effortless ease.  

In the first segement of his show Matt talked sex and boldly proclaimed with the authority that only a poet has that we are on the verge of a sexual revolution. Matt supports this belief by stating that in the 1970s and 80’s we were brought hearing about the seven year itch as the time when people were most likely test if the grass really was greener outside the martial home, whereas he now believes that over time this itch has come down to a one year itch and that is the time when relationships note I didn’t use the word marriage are likely to face their first real test. 

Matt then went on to lament the fact that he was too young for the first sexual revolution on due to the fact he hadn’t actually been born and was too old for this one because he is now in his early forties. 

Having relaxed the audience in the way only he can then introduced himself with what I think many people may call his signature poem entitled I Shot That Fucking Fucker’s Son in which the accused tries to justify the senseless killing of an innocent baby by quoting from the bible. This is done for one reason and one reason only which is to prove that extremists will use the bible to justify just about anything.

Having settled the audience which in this case was much smaller than Monkey deserve and comprised mainly of his adopted fringe family of which I am proud to be part he then introduced the character of Roger Cumsnatch  who has only been a poet for six months but who claims to be connected to Benedict Cummerbatch and and has auntie Bebe whose on the board of the BBC and has all the right connections to get her nephew noticed.  

In his ‘ set ‘ Cumsnatch who claims to be a liberal but is to all intents and purposes the David Cameron of the spoken word scene reads us his patronising protestations on those who are less fortunate than himself I Am As One With The Tramps before  revealing his true colours in Police State , Fascist State , What’s Wrong With Shooting Foxes, he then moved on to the topic of Racism where he informed us of his work with the Bemes community I think he meant Black , and Minority Ethnic Community before reading his final poem Check, Check, Check Your Privilege which so was condescending it reminded me of David Cameron talking on poverty 

Mercifully, this ended Cumsnacth’s contributed and Monkey Poet reappeared and restored normality or at least his version of it to the evening’s proceedings. Our resident monkey started with an excellent if short poetic attack on the man who would be president of America Donald Trump. This pleased the audience none of whom seem too happy at the prospect of Trump ruling his country or for that matter any other country.  

The show then, not surprisingly took a slightly political turn as Matt explained why he believes that UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, and SNP MEP Alyn Smith are two of the genuine good guys in a profession which in his opinion exactly famed for them. Matt then concluded his monkey business for the evening with his classic poem on St George and brought to  an end an excellent hour of entertainment. 

After the show I enjoyed a brief catch up with Matt who reveled that he wasn’t too sure about his Roger Cumsmatch character.  I told him that I liked Roger, as though he represented everything I loathed it is important to recognise that there are many people like him throughout both Scotland and throughout the UK and I know for a fact there will be on the poetry scene. Have I met any of them? Well you should know by now that a lady never tells so let’s just say I’ll leave that to your immigration.  What I will say though is that this was a very enjoyable way to spend an hour, and a real poet smashed the cultural class ceiling and gave it a good Matt finish. 

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X 

Score Card

Hey Readers

Friday saw me have a really bizarre day where running errands of mercy for my flatmate meant missing shows I had hoped to attend.
I did however attend a Hammer and Tongue poetry slam and more than that I was a judge at the slam This poem relates the story of how it felt to be a judge in a poetry slam I’ve given it the title Score Card I hope you enjoy the read.

Score Card 

The dark of a haunted  basement
masquerades as a torture chamber
for the spoken word participants
who take to the stage
to let me feel the love, the passion, the rage
You see I  was a judge in a poetry slam 
as six poets battled for hammer and tongue
It was time to let the battle begin
when marking I remember
not to hold grudges
or be favourable to those I  call friends 
having competed on nights like this
I sense the power of the occasion
and how it can impact
on even the most seasoned of poets
the trick is too grab the fear by the throat
and not freeze
you need to make your three minutes matter
when I’m a judge with score card in hand
I want to hear your patter
show me your dreams in rhyming schemes
that take me to the edge of my seat
fill me with anticipation,
Inspiration, horror
make me laugh, cry, or bring tears to my eyes
I try really hard never to give anyone below 7.4 or 5
respect is due for putting themselves through this hell
bearing your soul to a room full of strangers
is fraught with challenges
hidden dangers lurk in every stanza
no matter how much you hated Cameron, Blair, or Thatcher,
what you think doesn’t matter  the audience will be the arbiter of  your success
their reaction counts more than you might like
in this poetic fight to the finish
and yes I empathise with the view
everyone’s a critic
but I promise I will play fair
I know how hard you laboured over your lyrical poem
I have felt the pain of standing alone on that stage
I will not deduct points
If you read from the page
this is about poetry not memory
content and delivery are more  important than subject choice
so let me hear your voice
I want to listen to your words,
before I mark them.

@ Gayle Smith 2016.

A History Maker Told The World We All Have Problems With Power (A Review Of Josephine Sillars Concert At The Edinburgh Gin Bar 10-08-2016)

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Hey Readers

It is often said that there is nothing worse than a wet  Wednesday and most of the time this assertion would be correct but not always. You see last Wednesday it was chucking it down when I arrived in Edinburgh and since I didn’t have a clue where the venue for the show I was attending actually was I feared  I would be late for my afternoon of musical entertainment.

I needn’t have worried as it transpired that I arrived before the performer who was having challenges of her own to face that day as she was facing not only the inconvenience of moving flat but also the fact the trains were running late. Looking on the bright side, her unfortunate delay meant I was at least going to be at the venue in plenty of time to see her.

Josephine started her set with the brilliantly refreshing You Are Not The Reason. This song has bitingly clever lyrics which take a gentle dig at people with oversized ego’s This when combined with a sing a long melody makes an instant hit with her audience and that audience is ever growing.

This was followed by History Makers which I would say is the closest she has ever come to a political song. Whilst not overtly nationalist or pro independence there is a definite message to Scotland in the line they will call us history makers for the chances that we take. So to those who preach conformity from the safety of their armchair whilst reaching for their comfort blanket I say this you will chance nothing by standing still and five minutes (in the Warhol sense of the phrase) after you have made your final journey no-one will remember you ever existed. Now I don’t know about you but that is not what I want for my epitaph. 

This was followed up by Teardrop. This was I think I am right in saying the only cover version in her repitoire but such is Ms Sillars unique and to put not to fine a point on it stunning voice she made the song her own and absolutely nailed it. 

This was followed by  the very  moving February Has A Smoking Problem. This song is a song that not only makes you listen, it also makes you think and empathasise with the girl who is standing smoking outside the night club where her partner has just broken up with her. There is a real and genuine warmth in this song in which the narrator relates the girl’s  story with compassion and expresses the hope that if she were ever to be in this situation someone would show her same understanding as she has shown with lyrics which are absolutely beautiful. This to me illustrates the human condition at its best with beautiful and poignant lyrics.

In her next number Hurricanes Josephine combines poweful lyrics with a hauntingly beautiful melody which when fused together create that atmosphere which normally be reserved for childhood winters when your dad was telling you and your cousins ghost stories because you asked him to.  This song takes you to those dark winter nights when your stars and raindrops are your friends for reminding you to glad you have the comfort and shelter of home whilst others may not be so lucky. You know, some of the imagery in this song is so vivid it paints pictures on the canvas of your mind. This to me is the mark of a quality songwriter and Josephine Sillars is most certainly that. 

After such a haunting number Josephine’s next The Sun  And The Moon is a song about nature and the changes, hopes, and challenges it brings.This number served to remind me that the more things change the more they stay the same and though you may not want change in your life it will visit you whether you welcome it or not. 

By now it was time the penultimate song in what I can only describe as a fantastically phenomenal set and what better song to sing at this time than the one I regard as her calling card Problems With Power. This song has lyrics so sharp they can actually bite you on the bum. It is a brilliant piece of 21st century social commentary which I think could with enough exposure become the anthem for a generation. Yes , honestly it really is that good and I think it’s song that everyone should listen to.

Josephine finished her set with Vincent. No not the Don MacLean classic about Vincent Van Gogh but her own classic which is much more poppy and upbeat and this brought to end an entertaining 40-45 minutes of amazing music by a talent who was born to give a voice to the 21st century. 

So how would I describe the music of Josephine Sillars? Well I would say it’s a mix of Indy, pop, folk , and social commentary which is delivered by someone who has a voice similar to Rachel Sermanni in the sense that I could listen to her all day, and a quirky edginess in her lyrics which reminds me of Anna Meldrum who though some of you may not have of her yet, is like Rachel one of my favourite ever musicians. Having said this shows how highly I rate a wonderful talent who I hope will go on making music for years and decades to come.

As for my favourite in her repertoire I would have to say problems with power. This is an amazing song with powerful, passionate, thought provoking commentary which runs through it from start to finish and reminded me that even on  a wet Wednesday you’ll find something to warm the heart and I certainly did when I spent time with a history maker.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

Sometimes Events Mean A Last Minute Change And Writing A Brand New Script. (My Review Of What’s The Tory Mourning Glory ? By James Christopher)

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Hey Readers

It was on Tuesday I went to
see the first of the shows on my must see list. The show in question was What’s The Tory Mourning Glory? by Yorkshire based comedian James Christopher.

To be fair James is on my must see list every year and has been since I first saw him back in 2012 and has become a member of my August family. This year’s production was a  different type of show for James who departed from his usual gentle style of what I would call comfort zone comedy. You know, the kind of show you could take your granny to see. Indeed his fiancé Maxi who is a talented comedienne herself, said to me You’ll be proud of James this year he’s doing an adult show about real issues and she was right because James tackled the recent Brexit vote for Britain to leave the European Union and they don’t come more current or topical than that.

From the moment he came on stage to the backdrop of Oasis songs this was a man on form  and as he asked What’s the Tory mourning glory? a pun on one of the best albums ever made in my  opinion, James commanded his audience with that  confident yet relaxed delivery which has always been his trademark. 

James started by asking his audience if they remembered where they were when they heard the result. It seems that on this occasion at least that he had quite a few sensible audience members in attendance who unlike this political activist said that they had went to bed and the first they had heard of it was on the news bulletins the following morning. Yes I confess I was one of those who had stayed up until the bad news was officially delivered.

Our man then asked how we had voted in the referendum and there was an almighty sigh of relief when we found out that practically every audience member had like James voted to remain in Europe. However as James said disappointed as we are we’ll just have to Roll With It and it was important we Don’t Look Back In Anger. Yes I know I know Some Might Say these puns are a wee bit cheesy but this is my blog and I’ll give my review my way and I happen to like them so there staying in.

James said that there would would no doubt be some people who would say he was a peace loving, leftie , liberal, Guardian reading stoner and he would admit to all of those things except one as he is no longer a Guardian reader since they’ve taken a disturbing turn to the right.

With the show now well and truly under way James reminded us that is was important that we didn’t stereotype all leave voters as elderly racists though to be honest a significant number of them were elderly racists and it was difficult to understand why places like Hartlepool would listen to the Tories as they aren’t exactly well placed to benefit from the British Brexit.

The bold James then talked of the consequences of Brexit. which he correctly in my opinion claimed was caused by anti immigrant opinion, as a section of voters blamed Foreigners for rise in foodbanks and cuts in the benefits system rather than blaming The Tory Party and their austerity cuts. These he said were people whose political views were formed by right wing papers such as the Daily Mail.

In a very clreference to Daily Mail readers he said they are the kind of people who believe they’ve done everything right. They’ve went to the right schools, got the right jobs, married the right partners, live in the right places, had the right children, and in general just lived the right lives. Having told us this he then asked us to imagine what it would be like for them to imagine they could get anything wrong. Personally I can imagine this happening on a fairly regular basis whether they would agree with me however is a different matter entirely.

In an excellent and entertaining show a confident and composed Mr Christopher refused to panic when an audience member who was obviously a member of the grammar police corrected him on a technical point that the SNP were not the Scottish Nationalist Party but the Scottish National Party. Instead of worrying he dealt with it with the good humour for which he known and said that with such an educated audience his show would be the most factually accurate show at the fringe. I have to say in all my years of attending the madness that is and always will be forever Edinburgh I have never heard a classier comeback.

This was the mark of a polished performer whose show covered this significant historical event from all angles with clever and witty references on everything from Guardian readers, to Glastonbury, from Nicola Sturgeon, and Scotland’s vote to remain to David Cameron, Boris Johnson, The Daily Mail, and of course UKIP. This was topical comedy at its best and I thought his portrayal of Boris Johnson being the foreign secretary who doesn’t like anyone was both brilliantly funny and devastatingly accurate.

This was I have to say a very enjoyable way to spend an hour and make no mistake my first show as an audience member was a good one.
This was a show where a stream of one liners flowed in to the river of comedy and made waves on the intelligence of the audience even if it wasn’t the show James had originally planned to bring to the fringe this year. That of course was because nobody had anticipated the EU Referendum turning out in the way that it did. Everyone I know had expected Remain to win the day in which case James would have stuck with his original plan and I would have been reviewing a show on David Cameron and George Osborne’s austerity cuts. However it was a famous Scottish poet by the name of Robert Burns who said something profound about the best laid plans not turning out as we would have thought but sometimes events mean a last minute change and writing a brand new script. Strange as it seems that exactly what happened and James made it work by lifting the Brexit Blues.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Boys Can Cry Men Can Weep And Be Free To Hug If They Want To. 

Hey Readers

It is with disgust and revulsion that I read that Daily Mail has attempted to tarnish a well deserved gold medal won by two young male British divers Chris Mearns and Jack Laugher by suggesting that their gold medal hug was somehow less manly than the Chinese Bronze Medal Winners pat on the back.

This comment sparked outrage from the members of the LGBTI community and other people who are decent human beings Being in both groups a trans woman who I hope conducts myself with dignity and has a genuine warmth towards other people (right wing nut jobs not included) I am angry beyond words with my not so favourite newspaper.

This last comment should surprise nobody. To be fair I am often outraged by the Daily Mail for a multitude of reasons and far too many to mention in one post. This however has taken levels of offensiveness to new depths of depravity.  It is made worse by the fact the Daily Mail shamelessly promotes itself as a paragon of British Values but let me say this loud and clear the Daily Mail version of Britishness is not the kind of Britain I want to live in.

To question the masculinity of two talented young men of whom Britain should be (and the sane non Daily Mail reading parts of it are ) very proud is in my view completely and totally vile and an insult to the good name of journalism.

Speaking as a from a personal perspective the view that someone’s masculinity is compromised by giving someone a hug rather than a pat on the back is a joke and a pretty tasteless one at that. It is attitudes like these which have messed up the emotions of generations of men who have been labelled effeminate or queer (a word I don’t like and will never reclaim) for such ridiculous ‘ crimes ‘ as  crying at a movie or when they’ve fallen and skint their knees as children.

This boys don’t cry nonsense is exactly that, nonsense. It is this kind of stiff upper lip drivel which has made Britain the most emotionally backward nation in Europe and possibly even on earth.  It is I think no coincidence that Britain has the most suicides of any country in Europe when people have to live in a climate where men are not allowed to demonstrate any signs of emotion. 

Now forgive me for being controversial but I believe this attitude is at best outdated and at worst pre historic. No doubt the diehard chauvinists in certain working class communities will say it will make men out of boys and some people may actually buy that argument but why people whose sons are more likely to see the gravel pitches of Easterhouse than the playing fields of Eton can be so staggeringly stupid defies both description and belief. 

It is this kind of testosterone fuelled garbage which can and  does do considerably more harm than good.These stereotypes as to what is and isn’t masculine are an insult to all decent men everywhere and fan the flames of prejudice which can and does result in homophobia. To me masculinity, is not about throwing your weight around it is about being confident enough in yourself to let your feelings have free reign as and when required. It’s about taking your daughter to her football training, it’s doing your share of household duties, its about helping your friends,like Chris Young, and Jim Monaghan, and Steven Tierney to name but three  have done for me on many occasions and not being afraid to be who you are and show real emotion when you feel you need to do it. 

That to me what being a real man is all about and if that’s not what the Daily Mail thinks masculinity is about then maybe it’s the Daily Mail, that needs to change rather than those two young men who just achieved their greatest ambition and couldn’t hide their joy on doing so. The fact that I even have to say this is a 21st century scandal so maybe just maybe it’s time for the Daily Mail to man up, and face the fact that boys can cry, men can weep, and be free to hug if they want to. 
Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle XXX