Hammer and Tongue: Spoken Word, Komedia Studio Bar, 06/11/08

The premise of Komedia’s Hammer and Tongue had been so promising: an evening of poetry and spoken word from local and guest poets, with a poetry slam sandwiched in the middle. Unfortunately, what worked in theory didn’t quite work in practice.

The eccentric hosts, Rosy Carrick and Jonny Fluffypunk, started proceedings with some barmy yet very funny poems about exploding dog waste bins and self-administered liposuction, but their quirkiness soon became unspeakably irritating.

Komedia’s slam and poetry event proves satisfying only to those in on the scene

The petite Rosie Weston was the best thing about the evening, with her often abstract but always captivating poetry, on subjects ranging from love to public transport. Her melancholy ‘I love you until I become a child’ was soft and heartfelt; ‘The Look of the Other’ proved she can also do staccato delivery and intense imagery.

I was then surprised to find that a hunched and almost certainly drunk man had wandered on stage, and was waiting for the hosts to hurriedly remove him when I realised this was in fact Brendan Cleary, our second poet for the evening.

‘Some of the spoken word offerings were ridiculous; if I had wanted a barrage of tedious ramblings, I would have bought the Daily Mail’

Wandering up and down the stage, he delivered his cheeky short verses in the same drawling voice as he spoke, and his poems, including the mildly dirty paean ‘Kylie, be mine,’ were all the funnier for it.

However, the much anticipated poetry slam was distinctly disappointing. Many contestants seemed to equate shouting, comedy voices and wild gesticulation with performance skills, and I often found myself laughing at moments the solemn faces of the audience told me were supposed to be taken seriously.

Some of the spoken word offerings were even more ridiculous; if I had wanted to pay money for a barrage of ill-informed and tedious ramblings, I would have bought the Daily Mail. The stranger and more self-important the offerings, the more the judges seemed to love it.

All told, Hammer and Tongue is most certainly an evening for the initiated. If you love performance poetry already, you’ll most likely feel right at home; but if like me you were looking for an introduction to the genre, you’ll be left feeling like a plebeian amongst card-carrying poetry aficionados.

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