Hey everyone, It was 19 years ago on Monday that I first graced the stage at Sammy Dow’s & for those of you who are thinking is Sammy’s not usually the on the First Monday of the month? The answer is yes it is usually on the First Monday of the month. However, when it comes to May we have two editions of Words & Music. Our traditional regular club night & sometime in mid month usually the Third Monday of the month we hold an extra night, the reason is that this is the night of the annual Words & Music Open Poetry Championship.
This dates back to 1992 yes it even pre dates the current compares involvement with the club. There has always been a financial reward for the winners by which I mean our champion & our two joint runners up. However there is now the added incentive of a trophy as well as the cash so its not just about the money, its about winning the Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy.
Though the competition has been going for 20 years it was only last year we finally got a trophy to go with the title naming after one of the true greats in the history of the club our former compare Hugh Healy. A former boxer & bricklayer Hughie was its true to say a real Glasgow character & along with the woman I refer to as the first lady of Words & Music Pamela Duncan was responsible for keeping the club alive during the last years of last century when others said they were flogging a dead horse. However this most unique of all double acts didn’t listen to those sniping from the sidelines & instead encouraged everyone they could to come & support the club creating the atmosphere which has made ‘Sammy’s as it is affectionately known to the regulars, the family home of performance poetry.
In last year competition Katherine Beaumont became the first winner of the trophy, however just a few months later she moved to England to be closer to her son & so wasn’t available to defend her title so we knew there would be a new champion & a new name to be engraved on the trophy the question was who. This was a question which I, & another words & music regular the multi talented Andy Fleming would be responsible for answering along with president elect of Eastwood Writers Ann Morrison would be responsible for answering.
When it came to Judging the contestants we were each awarding a maximum of 25 marks for both delivery & content. The reason we decided on 25 per criteria was simple it was it would be easier to tot up the combined final marks. However this did not make the competition any easier to judge.
Though there were only 10 entrants. The quality was of a very high standard. This is how its always been in every words & music competition. Well it just seems to bring out the best in people. There were a number of excellent performances, notably from Jim Ewing who read his poem in the Scots language. Maryanne Hartness whose choice of topic was powerful & whose use of imagery was brilliant & Derek Read whose poem Exiles Return may have scored higher had he actually trusted the judges & not engaged in a preamble which used up too much of his time.
As the regular compare of the event, I was concerned that I may be the most generous marker amongst the judging panel. I needn’t have worried for after adding the combined totals of all the judges I was actually the hardest marker of the three of us. This surprised me I have to say but I was also secretly pleased about it. Well it buries any charges of favouritism dead in the water. Watch out Judge Judy you could have serious competition in the bitchy knickers department. As I said to Andy Fleming when it comes to judging I have far more in common with Dannii Minogue than Cheryl Cole.
So who had the X Factor that would take them to victory in the Words & Music Open Poetry Championship 2012? Well though the standard was as I said very high, we concurred after much thought that there was clear blue water between the top three & the rest of the performers Having decided on the winners it was time to take to the stage & make the long awaited announcement.
In true Words & Music tradition someone from the judging panel in this case me, gave a brief summary of the evening & thanked all entrants for their efforts before announcing the joint runners up & ultimately the new Words & Music Champion. For the joint runners our choices were the excellent Frank Mullen & that man of many talents Chris Young but the winner in a very close contest was the excellent Steve Allan whose comic wit in his poem sixth sense about the adventures of a lad on the pull in a local nightclub had just the right blend of social commentary & humour to strike a winning chord with all three judges.
It was an entertaining night & I really enjoyed being a judge. This was the second time I’ve been afforded this honour, the last time being in 2007 & believe me it doesn’t get easier. One thing has changed though, five years ago I was the kindest marker on the panel, On Monday I was the toughest, & by some considerable distance. However as well as the set criteria I was looking for one extra factor, namely would Hughie be proud of our choices & I’m sure would have been happy with all our winners. Not just our very worthy champion but also our two excellent runners up. All three are a credit to our club & everything it stands for.
What does it stand for? Well as resident compare I believe it stands for excellence both in poetry music on a normal club night & performance. It also stands for core values such as equality, fairness, & inclusion. Values Hughie held close to his heart & Pamela still does.
Perhaps on this occasion its fitting to quote the words of our new champion who when given his prizes pointed to the trophy & said ‘ this means more to me than what’s in envelope I knew Hughie & to win this means everything to me’ & you know what he meant every word. I’m also sure that somewhere in the heavens Hughie had his Telly on, was watching channel Sammy’s & smiling at the new champion. Well done Steve there was something about your performance last night,maybe your Sixth Sense told your other five you’ve done it. Congratulations Steve Allan Words & Music Open Poetry Champion 2012 & deserved winner of The Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy.