The Making Mankind Poetry Night curated by Louie Louié took place on Thursday 26th November at the Emporium Theatre and Café Bar on London Road. The main theme of the poetry for this event was the exploration of the concept of manhood in modern times. “An evening of spoken word and poetry exploring what it is to be a ‘man’ in 2015”. Ticket proceeds for the event were in aid of Mankind, a local charity based in Hove which supports men who experienced sexual abuse in childhood or were sexually assaulted in adulthood through counselling, therapeutic sessions, and supports for family and friend of male abuse victims.

The poetry evening was divided into two parts: the open mic slam and the headlining acts. The poetry evening started with the open mic session where eight poets were competing against each other for prizes. The first prize winner received a pair of AKG-Y50 headphones courtesy of Richer Sounds, and the runner up received a free breakfast for two with drinks courtesy of Joe’s Café of Upper Hamilton Road.

The first act of the night was Tommy Sissons, a poet with work commissioned by BBC Radio 1 Extra, Channel 4, and Red Bull. Three of his four poems mostly explored different aspects of manhood including “Fred” a depiction of his eponymous great-grandfather, “Men Don’t Cry” which explored his relationship of his grandfather and the expectation to not cry as a man, “Elegy of the Young” which was a personal and poignant dedication to the untimely deaths of many of his male friends and highlights what he deems as the importance of the gift of life.

The next poet of the evening was a female poet known as Ray Ray Lip. Although most of the poetry she performed was established works including “Youth” which was about embracing womanhood, “Tackle With Love and Question Everything” about the reactions of people to terrorist attacks, and her signature piece “Diagnosed” on her experiences with Dyslexia; she composed a poem especially for the event discussing the confusion of men’s reaction to feminism, defying gender norms, and the high rate of suicides among men.

The freestyling poet known as Gramski was the third act of the evening. His poems were entertaining and hilarious to watch and listen to for the audience as he recounts a true experience of a hotel mini fridge thief on his travels in Vietnam, an account of an accidental experience between an old (fictional) uncle from Liverpool and a hospital nurse, and a freestyled poem based on the three audience suggested words: cunniligus, bottom, and soufflé. On the theme on manhood, Gramski took a unique approach by paying tribute to the important women in his life including his mother and grandmother who helped him shape him as a man.

The penultimate act of the night was Natasha Moskovici. Her three poems took a humorous and tender approach between the relationships between men and women, including a poem on men flirting badly with women in youth; an ode to Spanish men which was funny, flirty, and bilingual; and the poet’s personal experience with a man she named Dylan she befriended and fell in love with in Turkey who worked with the military during the war in Afghanistan.

The final act of the night is the curator of the event, Louie Louié. His approach to the theme of mankind was a poem he composed questioning why dying in battle is considered brave for a man to do. He also touched on his established works including “A Bourgeois Boudoir” which is a political satire of the right-wing upper class, “Write Your Poem” which is a reflection of the struggles of a disabled single mother and her 8 year old daughter Poppy which is written in both perspectives, “She Was Lonely, He Was Naïve/Sail Away” which is a fusion of spoken word poetry and musical accompaniment which is about a man’s significant other cheating on him with his best friend.

The Making Mankind poetry evening proved to be a sold-out success with poets that were diverse in poetic styles, memorable, and equally as interesting as each other. Although not all the poets took solid approaches to mankind, those who did approached hard-hitting issues for men with insight and integrity. Overall, the poets displayed their skill, emotion, humour and poetic prowess in their works.

Louise Clancy

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