As tradition dictates the summer brings a mellow mood to Words And Music I think it’s the combination of sunshine and the upcoming holiday season that does it. That said , whatever the reason for it there is always a relaxed atmosphere in the summer months, especially July and as the 12 performers and friends who made the night what it was would agree, it’s the perfect opportunity for faces old and new to showcase their talents.
July is the kind of month which suits the kind of performers who are easy one on the ear it was with this in mind that I selected Jim Ewing to be featured writer and Charly Houston as featured musician. Well that was the plan but when Charly was unable to make it due to work commitments I had to get another musician at the last minute. Fortunately our resident multi tasker, Andy Fleming was ready and able to step in and take over that particular brief as he has so often in the past.
Comforting as it is to see Andy and the core regulars who make our nights what they are it’s always good to welcome new faces to the club and July saw two newcomers find a home at our place. In Natasha Newman and Moki Goddess Of Mischief both of whom I first met at the Blue Chair Extra Second nights I knew we had unearthed two stars of the future and was delighted they had graced us with their presence.
As host it was my duty to this summer night off to the best possible start even if I shamelessly plugged the fact that I had won the Faith And Unbelief title with my opening poem Faithful Daughter which is my poetic warning to the Church of Scotland to modernise or die.
Having kicked off the night it was time to introduce the first of the billed readers and Mary Wilson read two nature based poems Fledging Bluetits and Fledgling Sparrows based on her knowledge of watching new birds finding their way in the world .
After Mary’s gentle start to the evening, it was time to welcome the first of our newcomers to the stage, and Moki Goddess Of Mischief hit the ground running with a powerful thought provoking poetic package which was very well delivered by a poet who gets better with every performance. Her selection of The Demon Queen and Winching showed two very different sides to a poet of real potential who gave a very relaxed and confident performance. Like me Moki hails from the North of Glasgow and in fact grew up not only in the same scheme I had a few decades ago but in the very next street to the place I once called home so forgive me if I’m just a wee bit proud of a local girl made good who is keeping up the scheme’s reputation for producing quality poets and before you say anything yes I do mean me. I have to say I enjoyed both of Moki’s poems and I did notice that The Demon Queen produced more than a few shocked expressions whereas Winching had the audience giggling and contained more than a few nuggets of comedy gold.
With Moki’s debut over it was time for a seasoned regular to entertain us and in Alex Frew we had the perfect poet for the job. Well, I say poet but on this occasion Alex being the contrary type decided to start his set with a song Leonard’s Lactose Lament in tribute to Leonard Cohen and followed it up with a short stand up set. This wasn’t so much Not The Nine O’ Clock News, it was more like Not The Weekly News but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that it was both funny and enjoyable which it definitely was.
After Alex it was the turn of Susan Milligan to take the stage. This month Susan performed two poems Changing Your Mind, and Political Effects Two, before finishing her set with a song Carolina Moon
As one Susan left the stage another took her place, and Susan McKinestry performed two fabulous poems on the impact of social and economic disadvantage which left the audience spellbound. This was an excellent performance from a poet who was making only her second appearance at Words And Music and had to be coaxed in to making her first. Trust me this is a poet you will hear a lot more of and a voice which needs heard in the fight for compassion and equality a fight we shouldn’t need to be having in the 21st century but unfortunately it is more needed than its ever been.
After Susan It was time for the second of our newcomers to take her place and be the latest poet to add her name to the tapestry which makes up the history of our event and trust me Natasha Newman didn’t disappoint. As she led us to the bar break Natasha preformed a set of four poems of truly excellent quality.She started her set with Summer Executions in which she gave us her thoughts on what was for her and many others myself included was a very disappointing election result. This was followed by Whole, before moving on to the brilliantly titled Destination Unknown. This is a place that this poet and many others have visited a lot more than they will ever care to admit but it also sums up where the future will take us as nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. For her final poem of what was a top class debut set , Natasha read Ignited Rhymes. This was a great way to conclude the set and indeed the first half of the show as Natasha’s rhymes have certainly ignited the spoken word scene since this quiet softly spoken poet made her debut on it earlier this year at Extra Second. Make no mistake this performance marks the arrival of a major new talent and when I’m proved right then remember where you heard it first.
After the break it was time for our featured writer and on this occasion it was Jim Ewing who entertained the gathering with a set which showcased his versatility at its best. In 20 minutes Jim got through more subjects than mastermind as he took us on a journey through his work.
Jim started his set with Trumped Up , a political haiku on American president Donald Trump . He then moved on to a poem l entitled For Her in which he described the lack of compassion shown by a mourner at the death of an addict . In his next poem To A Mother Jim illustrates the full horrors of the Orlando massacre and his grief such senseless slaughter
For his next poem Jim journeyed much further back in time and read Martyrs a poem on the political climate 100 years ago at a time when the world was experiencing both wars and revolutions and the social and political upheavel that resulted from them.
After this it was time for a change of direction as our featured writer showed his humorous side with the ghostly ghoulish goings on the world of The Man With The Iron Teeth. This was followed by a trip to the past with Self Portrait 1900 before Carp Diem brought us back to the presen. Well it is the Latin for Seize The Day.
In his next poem Bromance Jim took a light at the bonds of male friendship. This I have to say of one my favourite poems by any poet on this topic and is possibly only eclipsed by Robin Cairns Homeland Songs as my all time favourite on it.
From this Jim moved on to Neil’s Prayer before reading his Dusty Springfield poem Definitely He followed this with Retrospective before concluding his set with Men At Lunch.
As regular readers will know the featured writer is usually followed by the featured musician. However as Charly couldn’t make it due to other commitments there was no featured musician at least not officially I was able to make an intelligent adaptation to the programme and let Pete Faulkner take the stage. This was a very good move as Pete is highly entertaining as well as being a consummate performer
As was the case in June when he was featured writer, Pete read an extract from his novel. In this chapter the school is visited by a group French students as part of a foreign exchange and Christopher is mortified by both students and staff alike particularly by the head of department who is doing the stereotypical Scot routine to perfection.
As Pete returned to his seat it was time for Andy Fleming to be the featured musician for the night . As regular attenders will know Andy has more than one than string to his bow, and when he takes the stage, you never quite know what happen you only know you’ll enjoy it when it does.
Andy started his set by reading a very short poem from his girlfriend Christine before getting on to the serious stuff with his word association poem Genetic Typing Pool Shark Bait. I hadn’t heard this poem in a long time and I really enjoyed listening to it again. He followed this with another piece from the achieve and it was great to hear and sing along to the Job Centre Plus song. From unemployment Andy moved on the topic of neighbours and aimed his creative fire at the kind of neighbours we would all hope never to have with his classic poem Neighbours , Everybody Needs Good Neighbours , But Mine Are A Shower Of Bastards. This poem never fails to hit the spot as almost everyone has had or knows someone whose had neighbours like the ones Andy so eloquently describes in this piece.
Andy followed this up with his own unique take on the disco classic I Will Survive before moving on to Roadrunner before concluding his set with that nice little sing a long number There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible.
With Andy’s set completed it was up to me to finish up the night and I did so with a set of four poems . I started with Slice Of Faith , a poem on celebrating. the end of lent by getting back on the chocolate by enjoying my favourite chocolate based treat otherwise known as the Blue Chair Brownie. Well if Burns can do it for haggis than why can’t I do it for the brownies. I mean it seems fair to me.
I then got slightly more political as I read Scroungers which explains what can happen when people are faced with the reality that the press and media don’t always tell the truth and. you face them with alternative arguments they may not have been exposed to.
I then moved on to a poem on activism entitled Snowflake which illustrates that those who use this term to insult us are making a big mistake as snowflakes like activists never arrive on their own.
I concluded my set with a poem the place I call home and My Glasgow showed you exactly that my city for better or worse in what I hope is an affectionate but realistic portrayal of my city.
With that, another Words And Music came to an end and as I made my way home I reflected on an evening of brownies, bromances, and missing bits from bibles really was the best of summer nights.
Till next time