Friday, September 11, 2009

Poetry Cafe Last Night

Razz runs two nights in London, one in the Poetry Cafe in Betterton Street in Covent Garden, the other in Tottenham at Chances on the High Road.
I was invited to play a floor spot last night, which was a welcome relief from the week's packing and clearing. On the way, I went to Rough Trade East to try to stock them up with copies of Suburban Pastoral and was just walking in their door with my guitar when I realised I was queue-jumping and that the shop had been given over to a gig by some trendy band or other. So I had to abandon those plans and wait till another day. It was funny to experience the excited rustling of the people waiting outside, some of whom obviously thought I was The Band (or at least, With The Band!).
The Poetry Cafe is a snug little caff with blond floorboards and quirky tables and chairs recycled, I think, from bookshops. One of the chairs had 'Puffin Books' stencilled on its back. There are free postcards so you can send a friend a poem.
Many of the poets last night had had brushes with mental health issues, and a lot of the poetry was very moving. There was a guy there who was autistic and who sang a song about how people see him: 'You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same'. I admired him for performing like this as I have a nephew who is autistic. He also had a really good singing voice.
Sybil was there, with a clarinettist whose playing swooped around her terrifyingly perceptive poetry and took it to another level entirely. Her poems are anger-driven dramas, darkly funny, like opening a bottle of pent-up truth and watching a Genii explode into the room and curl around the rafters malevolently.
It's quite shocking to be able to have a perfectly normal chat with her afterwards.
Ingrid Andrew read some of her warm-hearted poetry and played a song, and The Children (a very English-sounding duo whose music I really like) premiered a song based on an Old Testament story. Amorel, the singer, has a hugely powerful voice that she uses subtly and rhythmically. I think she's the best female singer I've heard this year, and I've heard a lot!
In between this, there were poets debuting their new poems, and Razz held the lot together good-naturedly with his own music and poetry.
Oh yes.. I played too!


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