Hey everyone. As I look back on another eventful evening of entertainment at the June edition of Words and Music it is I think safe to say that the attendance last month may have been affected by events elsewhere. For example the National Collective Glasgow session was taking place on that very same evening and this probably claimed at least three or four faces from us some of whom have become regulars in recent times.
There were also others who would certainly have been in attendance but work commitments, college study, and the fact that one regular forgot it was actually on combined to maintain the traditional summer dip in numbers we tend to get as poets turn thoughts to Wickerman, the Edinburgh fringe, and some this year the Yestival in what looks like a very busy summer for in involved in the cultural scene but I can assure you that the 12 did attend the evening made sure that what we lacked in a numbers we more than made up for in quality.
Anyway, as is becoming traditional I kicked off the evening by giving a rendition of the first poem I ever read at Words and Music and I’m glad to say that Every Saturday Night still proved as popular as ever. I think it’s the mixture of clubbing and comedy which makes it such a favourite.
After I had broken the ice it was time for the first of our billed readers and it was a pleasure to welcome back Alex Frew to entertain us. This he certainly did and he did it by getting on his bike and delivering a set which focused primarily on the virtues and indeed dangers, of cycling. His first poem was titled Cycling and he followed that up by giving us a poem on Cycling About Shortlees. He then read the Worst Day Of My Life, Astra, and Talking About Cycling, before finishing with a comic song entitled Big Chunky Buttocks.
After Alex it was good to welcome another familiar face who hadn’t been around much recently and had been greatly missed in his absence. Though he had managed to attend on competition night, This was Pete Faulkner’s first proper club night for a while as he had returned to his native north east for family reasons to look after his mum who had been ill for a while. However with his mum in better health and Pete back home in Glasgow he took his normal place at the family table which was, is and ever shall be Words and Music. When called to read Pete duly obliged with a poem on Superheroes. This I think all the more remarkable when you see Pete you realise just how uncanny the resemblance between the real life Doctor Pete Faulkner and a certain Tom Baker who once played Doctor Who. Anyway, it was a thoroughly enjoyable poem from a man we are very glad to welcome back to the place where he rightfully belongs.
Susan Milligan was next to take and read three pieces on a night which I have to say was not one of her best. This is I think due to the fact the first two pieces were on young Italian male singers who were castrated to make sure their voices never broke. In the both pieces Susan writes from the perspective of the singers. In the first of these she refers to the adulation they received as musicians and in the second she looks at the subject from the point of view of those singers as older men who could never have never families.
Whilst by Susan’s standards the narratives and the ideas behind them were actually good, I couldn’t help but think I would sooner read these articles in some sort of factual journals rather than listen to them being performed. This in my opinion is not really performance material and though this performance whilst not being by any means her worst will not go down as one of best. Indeed it is if anything a step backward which is all the more noticeable due to the improvements she has made in recent months. I do have to say though I am pleased with the fact that she redeemed herself with her final poem Liverpool 84 about trip to the Beatles museum. I do hope at some stage she does manage to go down to Liverpool again as I know how much of a Beatles fan she really is.
After Susan we called to the stage our champion and Alan MacGlas entertained us all in his own unique way with a story on his take as to what makes A Happy Marriage. Alan I have to say has the perfect voice for reading those late night stories you hear on Crackanory and knows how to truly engage with his audience. He is a man from whom many people can learn a lot about the art of performing.
As Alan went back to his seat, it was the turn of my good friend Jim Ewing to bring the food of faith to the Sammy’s table with a breathtaking Pentecost sonnet. I mean who he could fit all that action in to one poem let alone structure it in to a sonnet is something even I confess I find amazing but then as I am often remind usually by the Reverend Malcolm Cuthbertson the Lord will work in many ways his wonders to perform and one of those ways is through the poetry of Jim Ewing.
At the beginning of the evening Andy Fleming had said to put Jane Overton down for a spot as she would be arriving later on. However as Jane was next on the list and had not yet arrived, I decided to fill in the gaps by reading not one but two of my poems My Glasgow and A Single Girl On Valentine’s Night. Now you’ll never believe who should arrive right in the middle of the first of those but Jane who was closely followed by Robin Cairns. Needless to say I carried on just to give them time to settle in you understand. I do however have to admit that to have done anything else would have been too cruel even to contemplate and anyone who knows me knows I’m not that kind of girl.
That said however I did invite Jane to grace the stage which she did considerable style reading two poems Absolution and one of my favourite poems of hers A Fully Paid Up Don’t Know. This contrary to what some people may think is not about Jane’s position on the referendum debate but rather her position on matters spiritual and whether or not to decide to believe or not to believe in God.
After Jane it was time to welcome back to the stage the man I call the maestro and believe Robin Cairns didn’t disappoint. In a set of breathtaking quality he performed two new poems to lead us to the bar break. In the first of these The Lad From Late Shop Got Lifted Last Night Robin tackled often thorny issue of immigration with a combination of cultural sensitivity and poetic brilliance so often found in his work. The poem tells the story of a young lad being lifted to be sent ‘home’ wherever that is, as seen by friends from other diaspora communities in the culturally diverse melting pot that is Glasgow 2014. At the end of the poem it is Japanese deli owner who nails it. On asking the poet where he comes from and poet saying he doesn’t really know, the Deli owner says ‘maybe that’s what he should have said because if you don’t know where you come from they can’t send you back’. In his second poem A Cup Of Tea Mr Cairns had my head in more spins than washing cycle as he found so many diverse ways to make one topic sound so interesting on so many different levels. I thought this was indeed a suitable to take our customary bar break.
On our return it was time for our featured writer and this month that honour fell to Lesley McKay. A relativity recent addition to our team Lesley was initially reluctant even to get up on a stage and read her work let alone think of a 20 minute slot. Now however, just 18 months or so from that first performance she is a far more confident performer and that is why I knew I had made a very wise decision when I offered her the chance to take the stage and make it her own.
Lesley started her set with a poem set in Ethiopia. A Beautiful Hour captures the imagery of the moment so sensitively you can literally imagine walking a mile in her shoes as she commits pen to paper. In her next poem TIA (This Is Africa) Lesley painted a picture with words of the Africa and especially the Ethiopia she knew which was a work of truly stunning quality. Lesley followed this with Wild Swimming. This piece describing nature in her most stunning form showed a different more shall we say greenish side to her nature. Ah well, as my fellow yes campaigner and Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie would no doubt remind me there is a hidden environmentalist in us all.
In her next poem Lesley shared her thoughts on love. Entitled Promises Kept written with the red raw emotional of the kind of lust you only experience in the deepest of relationships. Yes it’s fair to say that you won’t find any of that kind of passion in Mills and Boon novels. This is only spoken about when someone actually has experienced love rather than just fantasised about it.
After this breathtaking piece she then a read a piece entitled Rupert Wins An Award before finished a top class debut in the featured slot with her by now traditional calling card the brilliant Be The Change and a short piece of prose Lost In Perdition. As I said an excellent debut in the featured slot from a woman with plenty to say and the talent and confidence to say it loud, proud, and with clarity. Lesley McKay is I think you’ll agree someone you’ll be hearing a lot more of.
Now it was time to move on to the Featured Musician and if Lesley was new to the idea of featured sets this cannot be said of the man who provided the music I refer of course to my good friend Andy Fleming. Like our friend Alex Frew Andy is a keen cyclist and he started his set with a rant against what he calls part time cyclists entitled You Are Not A Cyclist. He then read two poems the audience participation poem Just Say Kabuki and Mum’s Gone To Iceland or as I prefer to call it Ethnic Minority Of One. Well I always think that Mum’s Gone To Iceland is more like an advert for a frozen food outlet than the quality poem this is actually is.
He then performed Chew Chew Toffee before going back to the music and belting St James Street Infirmary Blues, a cover of Pink Floyd’s Being Boiled as a request for Susan Milligan. The hilarious There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible, he covered classics such as Pressure, Fever, Get Lucky and Heroes, before concluding his musical meanderings with Wired That Way and Run Like Hell. However Andy being Andy, he finished on a poem and not only that it was one of my favourites Neighbours Everybody Wants Good Neighbours But Mine Are The Bastards From Hell. A brilliant end to a fantastic set from a top of the range entertainer.
Now there was only myself left to perform and bring another Words and Music to a close. So to conclude the night I read The Champagne Socialist, Tights Before Trident, The Lemon Dress And It’s Time, and The Promise Of Summer in a set which I hope reflected many different sides to my personality.
Not just the political fighter, though I do talk about that in It’s Time, but a fighter who knows she’s fighting for the principles of equality and fairness. I am or at least I hope I am someone who tries her best not to judge others. In fact If you were ever asked to describe me I hope you could say that the girl who wore the Lemon Dress now puts Tights Before Trident and was a woman of poetry passion and principles.
Love And Best Wishes