Hey everyone It’s hard to believe that it’s over two weeks since we gathered for the October edition of Words and Music in the wee back room at that cultural institution that will be forever Sammy’s. However time passes quickly when your a poet and quicker still if you are poet and blogger who is always attempting to keep up with events. As usual it was a great evening of what the late great Frank Mullen would have no doubt called entertaining educational erudition and you know what, he would have been right because that is exactly what it was.
As the crowd began to gather it was great to see our very own first lady Pamela Duncan making an appearance. It’s always good to see Pamela back amongst the fold and so many of us remember the support she gave so many of us when we started our journey into the world of spoken word.
Now I don’t know why but nobody seems to kick off the night these days. So I have now decide to copy the Robin Cairns tradition and start the proceedings myself. The poem chosen to get the night underway was yesterday’s darling I wonder who knew it was about Donny Osmond. I think the answer is probably everyone.
It was A C Clarke who got the programmed readers under way with a set of three poems on topics as varied as water and the french revolution.
Next up was the excellent Pete Faulkner who read a chapter of his novel which is set in an inner city comprehensive and tells the story of an idealistic young teacher Christopher Darnley. In this chapter Christopher overhears conversations between differing groups of students including the Trotskyist Scottish Workers Ailliance and our hero couldn’t help but wonder why trot girls always shortened their names and spoke with middle class accents as they lectured the working class on just about everything. Who would have thought it middle class rich kids pretending to be socialists I’m sure we have a name for people like that these days. Oh that’s right we call them the Socialist Workers Party
At the end of a very entertaining read Pete gave centre stage to the man I call the maestro the brilliant Robin Cairns. Our featured writer last month, Robin started by performing a poem from that featured set, the highly amusing 23 poems I wrote last week. He then performed a poem on the independence referendum in which he posed shall we say some very interesting questions
After Robin it was Chris Young who was next to entertain the company and believe me he didn’t let anyone down. This month Chris decided to show us why he may not be the judges choice to win the X-Factor by performing two songs You Could Be Mine on the perils of potential relationships when the object of your desire is a younger partner.
On finishing this song I wondered how he was going to follow it but this is Chris so I needn’t have worried. In the event he sang another song. This time the topic of choice was the Great Scottish Run as Chris tormented himself by asking the question will I ever win gold. I think I gave him the answer to this question at the end of set by informing the audience that he certainly wasn’t a bronze age man and he would never be a silver surfer but he would always be the Golden boy of words and music.
After the madness of Christopher I was hoping I might get some sanity in to the proceedings for a couple of minutes and as if by magic Suzanne Egerton delivered it right on cue.
In the latest chapter of her novel her main character Fin who has recently come out as a lesbian, decides it is time to be brave and break the news to her daughter. This is I have to say a highly sensitive subject and Suzanne dealt with it brilliantly, creating a tense situation which was so tangible to the listener you could imagine you were in that living room as the event unfolded. This is quality writing at it’s very best and I really enjoyed being taken in to Fin’s world where the frostiness showed a distinctly chilly atmosphere between mother and daughter.
In many ways Suzanne’s story reminded me of my own journey when I decided to be open about my trans identity, fortunately however I was lucky to have a group of friends who really supported on my journey and made any difficulty I may have faced so much easier to deal with. I think that may be why I love hearing extracts from Suzanne’s work. There is also another reason of course namely that Suzanne is a damn fine writer with a voice worth listening to.
I referred when talking about Suzanne’s story to my group of supportive friends, and believe me they don’t come any better than the one woman force of nature that I call my big sister Linda Grant. It is my considered opinion, that Linda is one of the most improved writers and performers in the West of Scotland in the last 12 months and I am not the only one who has noticed this improvement. This month’s selection Tiger Stripes, I Don’t Think You Know What I Did Last Summer, and Forbidden Love demonstrated this improvement all too clearly. Not only did it a writer who is a lot more confident and focused than once was the case, all the poems Tiger Stripes in particular showed far better use of both language and imagery than much of her previous work. Make no mistake with her confidence soaring this a poet on the up, and as the song says things can only get better.
Susan Milligan followed Linda and yet again sabotaged her set by focusing on angry poems of a personal nature. I have to say I find this disappointing as I know she has produced decent quality poetry and prose which she doesn’t seem to perform as often as I or others think she should. For example I think her poems River of Tears, and I Don’t Think You Know What I Did This Summer, neither of which she performed this month are excellent poems which would find a place in any anthology I was editing. Of the four poems performed this month. Time was the standout for me not because it was at the standard of those mentioned but because of the confident way she performed it.
Jim Ewing was next to the stage and performed a set of five poems influenced by the time he spent in Greece. Note to cultural philistines, Jim was referring to Greece the nation and not Grease the movie. Now I like Jim a lot and he is one of the good guys in the spoken word but I don’t think he’s the new John Travolta.
Next up was a man whose wit and wisdom are rapidly gaining a following at Words and Music and this month John McGlade even presented News At Sammy’s. This satirical spoof on the news was both entertaining and thought provoking. Even if it was a bit on the long side and may need some editing, this sin can be very easily forgiven as John knows how to make us laugh and think in equal measure.
After John, our rising star Craig Scott performed a set of new poems to lead us to not in to temptation but instead to deliver us to the bar break. The set included Patchwork Romance, Shut Your Eyes I’m Talking, and A Moderate Monday With Maria. I have to say that poem raised a chuckle or two with of those who are more seasoned regulars at Words and Music. You see we used to have a regular amongst our number and one day we hope Maria Cairnie will return to the family fold. As for the reason some of us smiled at the title well it was the fact that though we’ve enjoyed many Monday’s with Maria I don’t think any have ever been moderate. I have to say and we would be very disappointed if they had. In-joke aside this was another brilliant set from a voice I am proud to say is one of our own and very definitely a poet with a great future.
After our well deserved break I kicked off the second half of the night by performing Every Saturday Night. This was the first poem I ever poem I performed at a regular Sammy’s club night over 20 years ago. I didn’t intend to perform it but just as I was about to introduce our featured writer Kevin Gilday I was reliably informed he was on what the chattering classes euphemistically call a comfort break. In other words he was at the bog.
Having said that, when he did take we weren’t disappointed. Indeed we were treated a feast of excellent poetry which had it been an evening meal our appetites would have been totally and complete satisfied with the food on offer. In my opinion Kevin is, like Craig Scott and our current Words and Music Champion Stephen Watt part of a new golden generation of very gifted young writers and performers who are blessed with a natural gift for the craft and a talent for making people want to listen to and enjoy their work.
In a brilliant set which started with The Man Who Loved Beer, Kevin included poems on topics as diverse as St Patrick to whom he dedicated a sonnet, the negative perception of people with certain types of moustaches.(Hitler’s Moustache) the complex dynamic in parent child relationship in the excellent I Am My Father’s Son, Geography in Welcome To Dennistoun, Class in Middle Class Love before finishing the set with Jesus coming to back to earth or somewhere resembling earth as he struggles the locals in Possil that he might just be following and I don’t mean on twitter.
All things considered this was a fantastic featured set from a prince of the performance poetry scene. Is he charming? Well his girlfriend thinks so and I’m sure his wee sister the highly lovable Lisa would agree especially as Christmas will be coming up sooner than any of us would want it to. Well anyone except my dental hygienist Stephanie. Honestly that girl is not known as Missy Christmas for no reason.
Talking of Christmas and I will indulge myself for just a wee while longer. The fact that the October Sammy’s takes place during the Glasgoes Poetic Festival means a lot to me since I kinda see this time of year as the festive season for spoken word performers. Bearing this in mind and the fact that we had a prince of poetry as featured reader, it was I think important that we found a wise man and a king for such an auspicious occasion. Now far be it from me to claim a miracle but we did manage to find both and we found them in the same person. Well as any Sammy’s regular knows our featured musician Jim King is a very wise man. In another excellent set Jim entertained the gathering with songs on topics such as the coalition government, (Little Posh Kids) the bankers, You’d Have To Be Some Kind Of Fool, the obscenity of the unfair distribution of wealth (Palaces Of Gold), and the dangers of nuclear power, (The Chernobyl Song), His selection of songs showed the variety of work from one of Glasgow’s finest singer /songwriters.
After Jim it was Billy McLean who graced the stage. Now Billy is a decent and likable guy but I will be honest his poetry does remind me of an intelligent version of the daily mail reading white van man and some the sentiments expressed in poems such as social scam, emotional blackmail, and every lie they tell is the truth are reminiscent of a day trip to the 1950’s. Speaking personally I have no desire to go back to the decade before I was born. After all, I don’t think equality had been invented at that time. Anyway what is it I always say love the sinner hate the sin. I think it could easily be applied in this case.
Next up was Billy’s friend and a good friend of the company Freddie Fingers who performed an excellent eclectic set in which Faces and Operation Barbosa were particular highlights.
After Freddie it was the turn of the penultimate reader of the evening whose short but enjoyable set saw her build on her promising debut last month with Partying In Heaven the stand out poem this time.
Finally I was my turn to conclude the evening’s proceedings and I performed a varied set which included Lost The Plot, which I am reliably informed I have done many times. The Scattering, and Self Analysis. An eclectic mix which I’m sure you’ll agree, was the perfect way to end a very enjoyable evening. It was a night which could be described by saying that on a moderate monday it was time to be brave as A young prince of poetry shared the stage with a king and the king is a very wise man.
Love And Best Wishes