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Brighton bards

Stray Signals

Stray Signals

Brighton now boasts an array of Poetry and Spoken Word events on a regular basis. The Badger sent writer Helen Grace to check out the latest offerings

It has to be said that ‘E.G. Poetry’ is the straightest poetry reading I’ve been to for a while, in the sense they were literally reading the words off the page. But, don’t get me wrong, it was no less exciting for this. Although slam poetry in its improvised spontaneity is all the rage in some circles, the night proved that the written word still packs a punch.

The event showcased the work of four poets; Alex Brockhurst, Vidran Ravinthiran, Sonya Smith and Ken Champion from ‘tall-lighthouse’, one of the country’s leading poetry presses. And four strikingly different acts they were, but with one thing in common – a complete lack of pretentiousness. This couldn’t have been further exemplified by one of the highlights of the evening for me, Ken Champion’s poem ‘Anthropomorthingy’, poetry without pretense if ever I heard any. ‘E.G. Poetry’ didn’t pretend to be anything else but as the title suggests, examples of poetry. And it was brilliant.

If ‘E.G. Poetry’ was the straightest poetry reading I have ever been to, Stray Signals was definitely the most unusual. Following a similar format to well established night ‘Floetics’ in its poetry, music, storytelling, open mike-y, audience-take-to-the-floor anything- goes sort of policy, I’m not really sure that it necessarily classified as a poetry based night. Nonetheless, it had ‘poetry’ on its poster and there was a definite emphasise on the poetical.

Even page 63 of Grazia magazine was read in a poetic manner, with such effect that somehow a non sensical string of fashion related words (‘chain mail’ and ‘tote’ for example), when performed with such emphatic delivery, managed to seem meaningful. An attack on consumerist society perhaps? Or, at the very least, a satirical mocking of it. I’m not sure whether that says more about my susceptibility and willingness to read too much into things or the obvious skill of the orator. Perhaps a combination of the two; Graeme Walker, who performed it, is clearly talented.

For those who preferred the more conventional poetry, there was a reading of a poem entitled Shipping Forecast, again by Graeme, which had me laughing from beginning to end. Still in this more ‘traditional’ format, an effective piece called Chavland by Dave from the audience, was a moving tribute to what it means to being working class.

What was great about both evenings was the welcoming atmosphere and the honesty of the performances. Had I the inclination (and, of course, the ability would help), I definitely felt I could have performed something without too much trepidation.

Both are well worth the look in, even if it is just to chat to Tom (of ‘E.G. Poetry’) or Mark (of Stray Signals) – seriously nice people.

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