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.

Canning Circus Festival



Niki and Megan



Yes, it is a spoken word crowd...

On 3rd October, LeftLion hosted the first ever Canning Circus Festival which basically entailed taking over eight pubs in this area of Nottingham and putting on over seventy bands, live graffiti, a thriller tribute band and various other funky stuff. As always, Joe Public didn’t have to pay a penny and we made nothing out of it other than a few close heart attacks organising and finalising details. As an independent magazine that has never received funding of any kind, we live and die by advertising. We are now five years old and the featured pubs and bars at the CCF advertised in our October issue which should keep us breathing for another year or so. And they were right to, five out of the eight made all time record takings on the night and numerous members of the public avoided a scrap down the Goose Fair thanks to our cultural offerings.

I organised the spoken word event in the Gallery above the Hand and Heart pub which was, quite miraculously, our first ever. Naturally I was very excited as it meant broadening our wings that little bit further and offering another avenue for writers to promote their work. Most pleasing of all, it gave members of our WriteLion creative writing forum the opportunity to appear alongside some well established names. It did surprise me that a few of our creative writing forum left early. Most up-and-coming writers are desperate for such opportunities, if not just to get to meet other writers and have a chat. Having said that, I guess they were relieved to get it over and done with. That’s certainly a feeling many of the organisers felt at various points though out the night.

The LeftLion spoken word event went well and drew in a good and varied crowd. Although Nicola would be the natural top billing at any event, I felt it was unfair to put anyone after Al Needham who is simply hilarious – a sexualised version of Nick Hornby if you will. Having read his blog and heard his escapades in the porn industry, nobody could follow him. He was also the natural end to our event, leaving the public upbeat. I’m sure a few females would have felt a little uncomfortable with his subject matter, but I think most found his honesty refreshing.

Now I’ve had one day off it’s time to plan for the Hockley Hustle on the 25th October. I don’t know; you wait all your life for one LeftLion spoken word event and then two come along at once…

Our line-up was…

4.00 – 4.50 WriteLion forum

4.50 – 5.40 Megan Taylor (How we were Lost) and Nicola Monaghan (The Killing Jar, Starfishing)

5.40 – 6.50 Nottingham Writers’ Studio poetry featuring Mike Wilson; Marion Bell; Wayne Burrows

Aly Stoneman and Milk.

6.50 – 8.00 Sexy Saturday with Rebecca Dakin and Al Needham