Scribal Gathering of Poetic Dissent

Our Scribal Gathering events are few and far between but when they happen, they’re special. On Friday 4 November we put on a Scribal Gathering of Poetic Dissent to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the ‘Luddite’ rebellion in Bulwell and to show respect to the ‘Occupy’ movement who are currently residing in Market Square. As is often the case with events you are organising yourself, they bring little joy on the night as you’re running around making sure things are going alright and that performers know what they’re doing.

I kicked off the event with a fifteen minute introduction with Motormouf, a young beatboxer from Nottingham who’d previously impressed with performances with Nina Smith and Maniere de Bohemiens. It’s really important when you’re dealing with political content that you don’t start lecturing on the obvious and so we went for a simple format whereby I’d discuss current events and then when I asked Motormouf what he was ‘mad as hell’ about or his opinion of Alessio Rastani – the City Trader welcoming the recession, he’d break out into beatboxing. Then, just when you expected him to continue in this vane, he freestyled a poem about Rosa Parks that was outstanding. Contrast is the key; mess with expectations. I planned this routine in one meeting with Motormouf and it’s so good to work with someone who listens and trusts your judgement. The purpose of the routine was to make him look amazing and me the talentless ‘dumb blond.’ Tis a humble life.

The Lambhorse Cabaret performance was a theatrical masterpiece, creating fake explosions courtesy of balloons and party poppers to bring down the system. They were joined by Stickman Higgins – who I wrote about in my last blog. Stickman is joy personified; he has so much energy it’s like he’s swallowed the sun. He played the part of an elderly Jamaican man and walked around greeting the audience before freestyling as the Lambhorse played on.

The key to large events is variety or else you overdose on the written word. Johnny Crump offered this by scratching on the decks with film visuals projected behind him. We also needed a variety of poets. Aly Stoneman was short and sweet, teasing the audience with her Ms Hood poem – in my opinion the perfect formula as then the audience want more. Joe Coghlan and Jonesy bounced an electric set off of each other, complimenting their differing styles. Debris Stevenson had the audience joining in which got everyone in a great mood whereas Scruffy Dave and Tokin’ John went for more traditional readings. And of course our joker in the pack was Al Needham who has not only made swearing socially acceptable but an art form in itself.

Chester P was our final act and proved that you don’t need a stage persona to perform. Simply exuding personality and being yourself is enough. But who is he? He looked like a crazy old man with autism as he nervously shuffled back and forth on stage on the tips of his toes as he delivered a stream of consciousness that washed over the audience like a tsunami. Every now and then you’d catch a phrase, a joke or a clever metaphor and before the beauty of this observation could settle, bang in came another. Wow.

Of course not everything went to plan. I’d spent ages recording Big Issue Sellers and Protestors in V for Vendetta masks and then recorded audios to be dubbed over the top which related to the film. But these weren’t edited together properly and so our hopes of having an anonymous production didn’t work. This, however, is inevitable when you’re relying on the goodwill and free time of various people to help suture everything together. The event was a collaboration with Dealmaker and LeftLion, photographs were kindly taken by Ralph Barklam with Adrian Towell filming proceedings and Stupeflix made the brilliant video to promote the event. The night was dedicated to Peter Preston who recently passed away and although a free event, we left buckets on the bar for people to donate to the Alan Sillitoe Statue Fund – or to be sick in.

Now we need a theme for the next event. I’m thinking Berlusconi’s Bitches or perhaps updating the Roald Dahl classic…the Fantastic Mr. Liam Fox. So much choice in a corrupt world. Thank goodness for villains, life would be dull.

LeftLion 43

It’s the last Friday of the month which can only mean one thing, LeftLion 43– the culmination of endless hours hard graft to ensure readers have something to spill their beer on in the pub. With it being Goose Fair month, there’s a general theme of carnivalesque behaviour. Ann Featherstone  (The Newgate Jig) was commissioned to write a piece on Victorian Notts through the observations of Sydney Race. Originally this was going to be on the WriteLion page but it was such a fantastic piece, we shifted it elsewhere. Deborah Tyler-Bennett kindly allowed us to reproduce three of her Goose Fair Poems which we were able to get illustrated, reinforcing the importance of planning months in advance and getting the copy in early. Given the general theme of debauchery and the recent riots, we featured three Crime Express novellas in our reviews section and we even found time to interview Danuta Reah, Ray Banks and Charlie Williams online to give readers a little more context.

Niki Monaghan wrote us a short story called The Bothy, to tie in with the release of her new book The Haunted, the first penned under her married name of Valentine. This is always a great way to promote a new book and something that will hopefully become more frequent now we’re at 48 pages.  With two literature articles commissioned, I was able to concentrate on a double page community piece with the Lambhorse Cabaret who are the most entertaining live act I’ve seen in yonks. They’re a weird collective of circus performers, poets, musicians, flame throwers, burlesque dancers and good old fashioned anarchists, the dark underbelly of the city that makes it come alive and pulsate. They’ll be performing at our Gunpowder, Treason and Pot event at the Nottingham Contemporary on November 4th. See, nothing’s left to chance.

We’re also proud to introduce a new feature called the Mither Squad, enabling the Thompson Brothers to continue their journey into local notoriety through an advice column. If you’re not the type to share your most embarrassing intimate secrets with a greengrocer, fear not. Al Needham and former escort-turned-author Rebecca Dakin are on hand as well. Oh yeah, and the Fish Man.

Other brief news to mention; I’ve done an interview with Deborah Stevenson of Mouthy Poets for the October issue of Writers’ Magazine; our next Shindig! at the Jam Cafe will be our last – so no excuses for not coming down; and finally, check out the Council House in Market Square mid-October. There’ll be two banners bearing the name of a certain magazine. Now enjoy the sun and get down the pub and pick up a copy of you know what.