Featured Picture Our Featured Writer Peter Russell
As I look forward to this month’s Words and Music it’s time to reflect on the events of September and though it was another small attendance and we had no featured musician for the first time since making the Tin Hut our home it was an enjoyable night as we welcomed old friends and new to our new surroundings.
As is now custom I started bang on 8 o’clock and I kicked off proceedings with the poem which has recently become my personal manifesto and I have to say Spoken Word was very well received. Personally I think it’s a good poem to start the night not just because of the subject it covers but also due to the amount of topics raised in the narrative.
As I had done my duty, it was now time to call up the first of the billed readers and on this occasion the honour fell to a newbie who was making her Words and Music début and in Angela Strachan (pictured below with our featured writer Peter Russell. Angela kicked off her set With Every Dog Has Its Day. This is a poem about being hard on yourself which is something modern women know a lot about. Angela developed this theme with her next poem The Cat’s Mother this was her take on those women who know no matter how much pressure they are under always seem to look perfect. This is the kind of woman who Angela has named the Queen of Modern Suburbia and I have no doubt like the rest of us finds intensely annoying. Angela concluded her set with a poem on her love affair with smoking entitled Dear Mister Berkeley Methol and as I listened to it I thought to myself only Angela could get economics into a love poem.
Picture ( 1) Angela Strachan takes a view of her new poetry surroundings as featured writer Peter Russell enjoys a well earned pint.
Angela was followed to the stage by Susan Milligan who performed two poems and a song before returning to her seat. Though this performance didn’t hit the heights of the previous couple of months it was still a well delivered set which gives testament to Susan’s improvement as a performer.
Next up was Suzanne Egerton and whether it be poetry and more likely prose Suzanne has a style of writing which is challenging and thought provoking without losing its humanity. On this occasion her story My First Day As A Widow was an excellent story told by a talented storyteller on a very difficult subject. It is my opinion that Suzanne knows how to draw her listeners in to her stories and she does it by creating characters we can not only believe in but identify with.
Picture (2) Suzanne Egerton takes the floor at the Tin Hut
Suzanne was followed to the stage by Pete Faulkner who was making a welcome return to Words And Music and his first appearance at the place we now call home. On this occasion Pete chose not to read one of his own poems but instead share a poem he enjoyed which was written by another poet. The poem in question was The Old Monk By Bill Wyatt
At the end of this poem I checked the list of readers and much to my amazement all of us had read our sets. As it was only 8.25 I made the decision just because I can that it would be far too early to call up our featured writer as doing so could mean we would finish the evening by around 9.o’clock at the latest so I decided that since there were so few of us that we could all go round again should we wish to do so.
Naturally as host I started off this section and as Celtic were playing Rangers on the Saturday after the event I did so with True Colours. This is a poem which comes straight from my Celtic supporting heart and explains from my very personal viewpoint why beating Rangers matters and always will.
I was followed by Susan who sang a couple of Beatles songs before finishing up her extended set with Two Cigarettes In An Ashtray and Fool On The Hill Angela then followed up with a poem which made her sound like a modern day Doris Day before Pete Faulkner (pictured below) led us to the bar break with Message In A Bottle. No not the police song but a poem by a poet whose name I forget. This poem had some of the best most cynical lines I’ve ever heard but they were also some of the most accurate especially when you think of Scotland in July. Now I don’t know why or maybe I do the lines ‘ Summer’s been postponed again due to lack of sunny days ‘ seems to sum up Scottish summers to perfection.
Poem (3) Pete Faulkner makes his first appearance on the Tin Hut Stage
Anyway we had now arrived at the bar break but during all the madness of the party sets a newcomer and her friend had quietly slipped in to the gathering and I for one was delighted to see one of the rising stars of the spoken word scene Molly McLachlan take her place among us for the first time.
As we started back it was time for our featured writer to take the stage and in Peter Russell we had a poet I admire and respect. I first became aware of Peter’s poetry at a Love Words event at GoMA in February and quickly realised that we had a major poetic talent on our hands.
Peter started his set with a jazz inspired poem The Bird , The Train And The Getz before moving on to Messages which I have a feeling may just be useful this Thursday as messages is the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day celebration.This was followed by The Haiku Tango and A Poem for Nick Drake.
Peter then read The Corbie Crow, which is a poem about Queens Park which is not far from his home. In this poem Peter captures the beauty of nature in an urban setting. This is something that many city dwellers often overlook so it was particularly appreciated by someone who was brought up on the rural urban fringes of North Glasgow and now lives on the rural urban fringes of East Glasgow where the city borders North Lanarkshire.
In his next poem Peter (pictured below) swappes beauty for beaurocracy with By Order in which he relates with honesty and touches of dark humour the confessions of a local government officer which is one of the many jobs he had during his working career.
Picture (4) Featured Writer Peter Russell engages his audience at The Tin Hut.
After enlightning us in the world of the civil service Peter took us on a journey to the wild untamed wilderness of Argyle for his next two poems No Cover, and Argyle November. This was followed by Navy Town 1973 which is one of my personal favourites of his as it was the first poem of his I ever heard and has a particular resonance for me as Portsmouth the town where the poem is set was where my dad did his national service and qualified as a Royal Marine.
Peter then moved on to Blood And Ox before reading another work based poem the brilliant 40 Hours In Hell. This was followed up with Harnia 2015 , Contrarian Blues, Mr Murray’s Words, Gale Force Wind At 5 Am The St Colm’s College Old Boys Club , and before concluding an excellent set with Boy And The 40 Gallon Drum.
This was an entertaining and enjoyable featured set and sets of such calibre are always difficult to follow, or at least that would normally be the case. This however , much like the night was different and in debut girl Molly McLachlan we had the perfect poet to follow in the footsteps of the featured slot.
Now I’ve got to know Molly well in the last year since I started attending the open mic nights at The Blue Chair cafe, and consider her to be a valued friend. So even before she took the stage I knew what she could bring to the party and believe me she brought it in spectacular style.
In her first poem Multi Billion Protection Racket Molly showed her passion for equality. This driven young woman who is destined for a career in law pinpointed with deadly accuracy the issues which caused inequality and illustrated her anger and frustration and the lack of action to deal with them by those who have the power to make the changes required.
This was followed by a poem for which the bold Molly doesn’t yet have a title. Now this may or may surprise her but I have at least three titles for the poem in which she describes a chance meeting of the same age from a very different background and expresses her humanitarian concerns for someone who though she only met her once left a lasting impression on her heart. The titles I would suggest are 19 , Lost Girl, and Just A Number. I don’t know which one if any, she’ll choose but I do know, this is a poem I’ll never tire of hearing.
Molly finished one of the best debut sets Words And Music has seen in a long time with a poem with one of the best titles I’ve heard in ages. I Wish Being Scottish Made You Immune From Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yet again this was another poem which stretched the imagine of the listener by a poet who is destined for very big things as she uses her powerful voice to articulate the concerns of the most marginalised and disadvantaged members of society.
Picture (5) Molly McLachlan rocks the Tin Hut with a brilliant debut set.
At the end of an incredible set it was time for the penultimate reader of the evening who by a strange quirk of fate had also performed earlier but unlike the rest of the performers she wanted to take her second slot later on and after the high energy express that was Molly we certainly needed the calm and reassuring voice that Suzanne Egerton can and does provide In this set Suzanne read three short pieces two of which Summer Flash, and Beyond The Gate were her own work and her final piece Jim was a poem by Hillaire Belloc. However just as Suzanne had restored some calm to the evening there was one final performer who could change all that should she choose to do.
That performer was of course me but on this occasion I decided to make my contribution slightly more sensible well I’m sure it made a plesent change for those who know me well. In a set which has a very personal touch to it , I started with Journey To Pride a poem written earlier this year in support of Scottish Labour Leader after she came out as a lesbian. I followed this up with Two Hours which focuses on the geography of isolation faced by young trans teens in parts of Rural Scotland and looks back on my own teenage years in the 1970’s If only to show that things have improved for younger trans teenagers who live in my country’s bigger towns and cities. In my penultimate poem Rock Of Kindness I looked back with affection on the close almost sibling like relationship I had with my younger cousin and hopefully illustrate that out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind.
This however was where the sanity stopped. Well it had to end sometime and where better than the final poem to make sure the audience went out smiling and Every Saturday Night is just the poem to do exactly that. This was the very first poem I read at a Words and Music night back in 1993 and I think still it’s as funny and as relevant now as it was back in the day.
With the final poem read it was time to bring the curtain down on another night of Words and Music. It was if truth be told more like a party than a poetry night. I think the small attendance there was only eight of us at the gathering helped add to the intimate atmosphere of the occasion and to sum it up I would say that we were the eightsome who made the night real as we wore our true colours with style.
Love And Best Wishes