In Glasgow We Don’t Need Permission To Be Poets

Hey  everyone As i look back on the events of the October Words and Music i am heartened to report that Lebowskis saw it’s biggest attendance since taking over the event and indeed the premises from Sammy Dow’s in early July. To me at least this wasn’t a shaock as it was held in the second  week of the Glasgoes Poetic festival and that always  seems to attract a decent crowd. With Stepten Watt as our featured writer and Bob Leslie as our featured musician it is i think fair to say that I  was confident of a top quality night of excellent entertainment which would be a credit to our club and believe me when i say that is exactly what we got.

With our first lady Pamela Duncan in attendance i got the night under the way with what i thought was a highly appropriate poem to kick off what was after all a Glasgoes poetic event. The poem simply entitled poets, seemed to go well with the audience, so job done, i called thew of our billed readers to the stage

As is now becoming somewhat of a Lebowskis tradition that reader was John Moody who performed two poets The Ecstasy Of St Theresa ( Saint Theresa’s Rapture  and Mallinvitch’s  Doom. i think it’s quite appropriate for a Liberal Democrat to be reading a poem about doom because that’s what they surely will be after next May’s Scottish Election . I do have to say thought that John’s first poem was given a very long preamble and the rules of Words and Music laid down by King Hughie of Firhill in the 2002 Declartion of Sammy Dow’s quite clearly state that only Pete Faulkner will be able to partake in such preambles.

Next up was someone returning to Words and Music for the first time in a very long while David Moffat, and i have to say i found his poem West Coaster was both and entertaining and enjoyable and i look forward to hearing more of David’s work in the weeks and months to come.

Talking of Mr Faulkner as i was a moment ago when i recalled the declaration of the Preambles Act 2002. It was now his turn to entertain the company and he did exactly that by reading two poem on his native city of Dundee. The first of these Halloween Dundee got us suitably scared for what was to come at the end of the month and the second in Pete’s Dundonian double informed us of the story William McGonagall’s Dundee . For  those of you who by some miracle don’t already know this McGonagall who by the way was actually born in Edinburgh was considered to be the worst poet in the world. However, Dundee’s reputation as fine and indeed cultured city has been restored by the likes of Michael Marra, Mark Thomson, and of course our very own Pete Faulkner.


Following Pete is never the easiest thing to do such is the quality of his work and this time that honour was placed in the hands of Words And Music debut boy Kieran Kelly  whose poem  on Glasgow was in my opinion one the best i’ve heard in a very long time. Having heard Kieran’s work before at another venue I was in no doubt he would impress anyone who was hearing him for the first time. Kieran who originally hails from Ayrshire said during his brief introduction that had two homes Ayrshire where he was born and raised and Glasgow the city in which he now resides. Well i’ve got news for him, he now has a third home and that is on  the on the Words And Music stage on the first Monday of the month.

From A debut we turned to a seasoned regular and Jim Ewing told the gathering that his poem Permission was inspired by a visit to a poetry show at the Edinburgh Fringe. I do hope you’ll forgive my temporary bout of smugness when I tell you that the show concerned was Permission from which Jim gained the title of his show by the brilliant Hannah Chutzpah. As for the poem itself it was  both thought provoking and contained plenty of the dry humour for which Jim is famous as it tackled the difficult issues that surround faith and sexuality.

As Jim returned to his seat it was great to welcome Alex Frew back to the stage he knows so well. Alex has always been and still remains a firm favourite with the Words and Music crowd. On this ocassion he performed the rather suggestively titled Three Black Knobs And A White Yin  and two rap style poems Plump Rapper which he claims reclaims rap for white overweight over 50’s males  and Big Chunky Buttocks. I think that was the perfect place to finish as i’m not sure the audience could have with anymore suggestiveness but make mistake this was an excellent set from of the good guys.

Susan Milligan had the difficult task of following that but she did it well with a couple of poems on the dancing I particularly liked the first of these Silent Disco as it summed up how it must feel to be an outsider. The other poem Dancing With My Clothes On was also good but i can’t help but be amused by the title as if you dance with your clothes off you are either getting jiggy with it or risking arrest by those fine people known to you and I as officers of the law.

Next up our resident prose writer Suzanne Egerton told another account of that night out she started on last month a night which as Taggart would with a murder and this time it was Tales Of An Essex Girl.  As is Suzanne’s customary style  there was great description just a touch or two or dark humour and an edginess which kept the audience hooked right till the very last line.  You know i always enjoyed Suzanne’s stories and this was no exception to the rule.

After Suzanne it was Linda Grant who led to the break with a wee bit of assistance from the ever reliable Jim Ewing. However i’ll tell you more of that later but firstly i’ll focus on the main body of Linda’s set. This month Linda opened her set with a poem entitled The Fireman Who Saved My Life, and followed this dramatic but comic piece with an even more  comic piece on in which she asked questions of Contrary Mary which i personally thought was her best poem of the evening Linda journeyed to her childhood with then by the magic of verse  rejoined us in the present with a poem entitled Stage. In this poem Linda told of childhood and teenage dreams of being a dancer before  bringing up to the present and talking about her poetic adventures getting her on to a stage she had never quite anticipated. Linda final poem on her own in this particular set which was i have to say like Susan’s ,  her best since the pub changed name was a faith related poem titled May God’s Love Bind Us in which she wrote about her time of being part of a prayer shawl  At the end of this poem she teamed up with Jim Ewing to perform some faith based haiku’s together. Though i  must admit to liking the idea behind it i don’t it quite worked on this occasion and that in my opinion, is purely due to the fact that it needed to be rehearsed and neither Linda nor Jim had the time to do it. I do have to say however, i think this would go down a treat at Easter so maybe it’s something for this new dynamic duo to have a think about.

After the break, it was time to introduce our featured writer for this Glasgoes Poetic edition of Words And Music and so keen was i to get our featured act for this event I pre-booked him in May. Well not for nothing do I rate Stephen as one of the best up and coming poets in Scotland or for that matter anywhere. Stephen’s was polished, precise, and professional and contained a balance of humour and serious material. Stephen started a breathtaking 20 minutes with the comic and brilliantly self deprecating poem Couldn’t Get It Up In Paris  and his second poem Vanilla was also on theme of holidays though this time seen from the view of someone who had happy childhood and teenage memories shared with a loving family and good friends. I have to say i loved this poem it had nostalgia but without overdone sentimentality for which we West Of Scotland types are so often famous

Moving swiftly on a nd very much back to the prsent Stephen’s was entitled Wishing He Was Slash and is dedicated to a busker on Buchanan Street and i know which busker and let me say it damn fine of Stephen to acknowledge the talents of a very good musician  Our featured writer then went a wee bit batty and wrote a brilliant poem on Bats and followed that with a poem on Rolling R’S. I should perhaps explain to any would be tourist types who may stumble across the blog that this is not a range of hills or mountains but a poem on pronunciation and what we Scots do to the English language.

Talking of the West of Scotland you can practically touch it and you can certainly taste it in Stephen’s next poem Ice Cream And Lovebites  After this poem Mr Watt moved on to his musical memories and read another of my favourites of his when he walked us down his musical memory lane and informed us that we should Never Trust A Man Who Doesn’t Dance To Ska  As he concluded his set with Kettle which he describes as a poem on domestic bliss and his final poem  Buddy Hols, i have to say i congratulated Stephen on an excellent featured set and indeed myself for selecting him to be featured writer on this occasion. Well i know a good poet when i see one and make no mistake Stephen Watt is up there with the best  of them

From a quality featured writer we moved on to our featured musician and in big Bob Leslie we also had a man of supreme quality to grace the Words and Music stage.   Bob started his set with Seek Not For Whom The Bell tolls  and followed it up with a song entitled Sir Alexander Leslie who like many Scots before him went abroad and did rather well for himself and whom Bob claims is a distant family connection or at least that’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

From a song about a Scot who did well abroad Bob moved on to a song about Scots who were forced to leave with hsi beautiful song about the Highland Clearances entitled The Lairds. This story set to music could in my opinion easily to the soundtrack to a movie on this subject which even more than 200 years is still difficult to deal with for us As my maternal gran always said A Highlander never forgets, An Irishman never forgets , and A Celt never forgets . The fact that i have Highland and Irish blood and that this song made me angry goes i think to prove her point,

Bob followed this with the equally stirring Stand Up Caledonia. Again i loved this song and those who know my political views which i think is just about everyone will find it very easy to understand why. Bob then concluded a top quality set  with the brilliantly titled Don’t Start The Revolution In The Morning. This was i think the perfect way to end of it as it unites just about every political activist no matter their shade of opinion and gives us a laugh at the same time

Following two such excellent featured acts would i think be a challenge for most people but not for someone of the talent and quality of Steve Allan  In this month’s glimpse in to Steve’s world he told the gathering a tale of a rather embarrassing visit to his local supermarket when his wife sent on a mission to buy her sanitary towels and he was faced with a wall of purple packets. Needless to say i had to a female shop assistant who would come to his rescue as felt the whole store was looking at him. You know i like visiting Steve’s world as it has to be one of the very few places on earth that is actually as mad as my world.


At the end of Steve’s story we were joined by birthday boy Shaun Moore who had decided join us to avoid all mentions of his birthday. No luck there Shaun my friend. Indeed it was the gathering who were lucky as Shaun who is November’s featured writer treated by telling us the story in poetic form of course of one of Glasgow’s true heroine’s Mary Barbour who led to Govan Rent Strike against the city’s landlord’s overcharging tenants during the First World War. This year is in fact the centenary of that rent strike but as yet our city fathers have still to erect a statue to Mary Barbour in the city main square and they’ve got the nerve to call themselves socialists. Sean’s second poem Slammin is a personal favourite because it documents what it feels like to what some would call a more mature slammer when competing against younger poets.


Talking of younger poets Kirsty Nicolson who by the way is December’s featured writer was next up to the stage. On this occasion Kirsty read two poems, The first one Do You Hate Me?  is written from the perspective of an immigrant and how they must feel when the arrive in this United Kingdom are all too aften greeted with unkind words by people who believe lies that pass for facts in the tabloid press . To  conclude a short but interesting set Kirsty performed Being Cool Part 1 and then took her place back among the gathering .


From a poet who has only just recently arrived at Words And Music we moved on to one of the stalwarts of the event over the last decade or so and it was great to welcome back Robin Cairns to the stage he’s graced so often in the past. On this occasion Robin did a poetic version of My Old Man’s A Dustman and give his thoughts on the Glasgow Bin Lorry Disaster. This challenged  what had until fairly recently been  the perceived wisdom of having sympathy for the driver and also pointed a wee finger of blame at the idiots who employed him. I wonder who that could be ?  Here’s the clue the it wasn’t the SNP,


From Robin we moved on to the penultimate reader of the night Andy Fleming who treated  us to his old favourite and for that mine Scottish Poetry Tonight before  illustrating his musical genius with his unique rendition of the Gloria Gaynor disco classic i will survive. Andy’s job done it was up to me to bring the night to an end which i duly did.

As i brought the curtain down on what had been a truly magical i performed a set of four poems  I started with my poems on the Clearances entitled The Scattering, I read a poem which the moment someone utters the title you know you’ve met a Daily Mail reader I am of course referring to I’m Not Prejudiced But. My next selections was that poem on family values Glasgow style Just Like The Waltons,  and i finished the evening with a poem to lead us to winter with Before the Darkness Falls.

As i left Lebowskis after yet another fantastic night of Words and Music which represented west of Scotland i was prod to have hosted such an amazing event and as I telexed with with my post First Monday coffee I smiled as i thought to myself, You know in Glasgow we don’t need permission to be poets.


Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X




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