Summer spilled out on the parks of Southampton for Ejector Seat 2013 and we’ve finally managed to catch its breath. The day at the Spoken Word tent passed with languid intensity – never a dull, unpleasant moment. Verbally photographing the highlights of the day were blog contributors, Carrie Aaron and Antosh Wojcik:
Carrie: “For quite some weeks, there had been a growing excitement amongst ArtfulScribers: something, with all the sparkly inexorability of the pre-Christmas: the anticipation of Ejector Seat 2013 at Palmerston Park.
On Saturday the 8th of June I strode, notebook in bag, townwards. Not being more-than-usually geographically talented, I was by no means entirely sure where Palmerston Park was. I consulted, however, one of those maps-in-metal-billboards which the council has so considerately erected for people like me, and found Palmerston Park. Having paused, for a moment, to photograph a particularly resplendent Victorian pillar, I made my way to the nearest ice-cream van. There, I obtained my Mr Whippy. This done, I sought the Spoken Word tent. Ejector Seat was, I am pleased to report, more than usually well-signposted. A semi-circle of poets stood to the left of the tent, in a sort of static, discussing what was going to happen and pretending, for the most part, to be all grown up and not nearly as excited as they were.
Issa Farrah was the first poet of the day to take the stage. Issa is one of those poets who seem to imprint themselves, like a watermark, onto the arts-discourse of wherever they happen to be. He looked, on stage, amidst the variegated tassels looping rainbow-like either side of him, very happy, and very much in the right place. Following Issa’s set, the succeeding Archimedes Screw Champions performed sets. Benjamin Hayes delivered succinct, perfectly-modulated bundles of information, all of which seemed to be transferred from him to the audience intact. A poem about not talking about being a poet (in response to not-overwhelmingly-positive familial interest) stood out most poignantly. He came across as personal genuine and relatable-to, and the audience liked him for it. Stewart Taylor buzzed on and off the stage for quite some time, like a sort of inverse poltergeist. The apex of his verbiosity was, in my view, reached when he decanted his epic poem about curry-related farting into our ears. A poorly James Barnes machine-gunned us with little volleys of poems in prose from pieces of paper cut very neatly to sizes that paper has rarely experienced itself being before. Rob Casey, with a quite lovely folder with a world map emblazoned bluely on it, had the great advantage of having a prop; his lovely son.
Then there was a slam. Matt West opened with a sacrificial poem about his mobile phone being nicked. Rob Casey reappeared and Carrie Wilde put in an appearance. In fact, she pinched my spot. (Let me explain. I used to be Carrie Wilde. I have not been Carrie Wilde for quite some time. Carrie Wilde no longer exists. I am, however, still sometimes presented as Carrie Wilde. I am Carrie Aaron now. Carrie Aaron. And don’t you forget it!) I one-handedly gesticulated my way through a poem about the Cyclopsian nature of web-cams. The guardians of the scorecards were astonishingly kind to me, but I was not cast up to the terrifying heights of the final round. The lengthily-named Peter Allen Eaglesfield Clarke performed a very jolly poem about a murder. Mark Badbelly Lang was enthusiastically received with wave upon wave of sound and sense, telling a tale of a pirate of hearts. Antosh Wojcik demonstrated a gentle lyricism refreshing as a soda fountain in a multi-storey car-park . Songul Bekir, looking every inch the artist in flaming red lipstick and a resplendently coloursome dress, wandered around her verse with nuanced and varied expressions and tones and phrases, until it became a splendidly synesthetic experience (which is just what one would expect from a poet who has her roots in visual art). And Jenn Hart performed – and won! Very deservedly indeed, actually – with a performance which would not have looked out of place as a headline act.
Then Luke Wright happened. Luke Wright is a consummate storyteller. He told us about a posh plumber. And he told us about a lion. And he told us about a bird called Barbara. And he writhed and shimmied and quaked – and, well, just generally moved more than a bowl of jelly on a wobble board – throughout. He is impossible to convey. Just go and see him, yeah?”
Antosh: “Luke Wright bounds up to the stage, ready to release his brand of beat poetry upon the crowd. He begins by delivering his ‘Essex Lion’ poem with a comedic exuberance, juggling all sorts of wordplay and social observation into poetry nuggets that anyone from the age of two to ninety two can enjoy. His rhyme and rhythm are mesmerizing and the crowd is in stitches for the whole hour set. His banter between each poem easily blends them into an almost stand up routine. It is no wonder why this man is such a proponent in the performance poetry scene. Notions of poignancy and story telling also riddle Wright’s set as he talks about the strife of parenthood, childhood, school and teachers, not for a moment dropping his playful way with words. The audience are rolling in the sun and soon, the laughs are drowning out the music from the other tents.”
Dizraeli blends the passion of a rapper with spoken word, imbuing verses with lyrical depth and wordplay that makes his set both a journey of knowledge and at moments, blisteringly funny. He has mad rap flow skills, taking on issues such as celebrity and social issues like feminism and youth culture. He unites the audience with participatory chants and stands as an equal amongst us… Only holding a guitar and a tongue that can lash out some sprinting rhythms. He apologises for his larynx; he’s quite husky after an operation, yet his melodious choruses sound all the more bluesy and complement his style of spoken word. Delivering a perfectly pitched set with shades of light and dark, this diverse and lyrical legend distinguishes himself from other MCs.”
And then he was gone, evaporated like a bowl of drinking water on a hot summer’s day, making way for Jo Hillier to introduce the fabulous Biscuit Poets. Their festival debut went down well with a hardcore of poetry fans who stayed to hear how the Headway crew appreciated their tea-break temptations, with poems ranging from odes to Wagon-Wheels to ginger nuts too tough to crack. Who’d have thought it?
Every day must have its end, and as time faded with the finesse of a slider on a DJ deck, Michael O’Leary appeared with a bag full of tales and stick of ear-spitting noisomeness to inject the afternoon with traditional storytelling set in defamiliarised local surroundings. His performance was appreciated by poets, parents, and everyone who sat captivated on the spot.
Monday 17th to Sunday 23rd June is Refugee Week 2013 in Southampton. With cultural events happening at different locations around town, on 23rd at the Quaker Centre off of London Road, Angela Chicken and Jenn Hart will be performing poetry during the day. For more information about events happening in the week, click here.
Wednesday 26th Jul 2013 – Freeway Poets return to the Winchester pub with open mic, guest slots and headliner act MC DIZRAELI & DOWNLOW, sign up from 7.30pm, £5/£3 NUS entry.
On Friday 28th June at the Art House, Southampton – Moving Voices Open Mic night will be hosted upstairs. Poetry and Music welcome, sign up on the door from 7pm.
Sunday 30th June – Archimedes Screw returns to the Art House, Southampton with another all day workshop – ‘Edit Like a Pro’ which will be facilitated by Tom Chivers, editor of Penned in the Margins. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to guarantee a place. More information available here.
Thanks for Scribing,
– Carrie & Antosh.