A full house and a fantastic atmosphere at the Redroaster Coffee House, last night for the first Pighog poetry event of the new season, organised and compered by the lovely Michaela Ridgway and with John Davis director of the Pighog Press there to welcome everyone too.
The first poet Tony Spiers, with his first collection ‘Brighton Ventriloquies’ completely original and full of humour. Apparently he has lived in Brighton for a long time, so some of his poems concern unusual aspects of Sussex life, it’s landscape, including the sea. I loved ‘Flotsam’ told from the flotsam’s point of view, there is a also a poem about Max Miller and another about Punch and Judy. Some of these poems are written in dialect, including ‘Flower Girl at Brighton Station’ which is very, very funny. His poetry is full of music, alliteration and fun.
Tony’s anecdotes introducing his poems were both informative and often amusin too. He informs us there are about 90 different sheep species and threatened to list them all! Instead he tells us that they are like tortoises and not able to turn the right way up. But then we get his poem ‘Sheep’.
I have met Tony several times. He did a ‘bug hunt’ walk on The Weald allotment last year for its centenary. But I had no idea until today that in his youth he had been employed ‘to rummage through plankton in the jellyfish department at the Natural History Museum.’ This gives one some indication as to why he can bring such fine detail to his poems. I am sure this book will popular and on several peoples’ Christmas lists, a real gem for anyone in Brighton and/or who loves the seaside.
After the break we have the absolute gem of the poetry world, Brendan Cleary Here he is reading poems from his latest Pighog publication ‘Face’ we also learn in passing that this could be his ‘finale’ at Pighog, because he is moving back to his homeland, Ireland. I like to think I would travel a million miles to hear him read his beautiful poems, with that wonderful Irish lilt the icing on the cake!
The title poem ‘Face’, commemorating his brother, is a part of a series and would move anyone to tears. It must have been very hard for him to write, let alone read to an audience. I have heard Brendan reading poetry about his brother before, but tonight it felt particularly poignant, one almost hold one’s breath in readiness for the next line.
But then, suddenly the seasoned performer that he is, he takes a different tack, reading poems about people, life events and love ‘It’s Our Dance’, and ‘Not Yet’, often funny but with an equally delicate touch.
Last, but by no means least several vibrant poems from the enthusiastic open micers who get 2 minutes each! Tommy Sissons a slam champion, Rum T France another slam champion (during her year in Mexico) pic on left, Nicolas Collins a teaching assistant, printmaker and gardener, Rodney Wood, Alice Denny, who amongst other things is an ex-psychiatric nurse and tree hugger, and finally Shazea Quraishi who read one of her poems from her a new pamphlet ‘The Courtesans Reply’, a sequence in the voices of Indian Courtesans, published by ‘flap’ I found this particularly eloquent.
Much applause all round for everyone, coffee, tea, wine and beer on sale in the hospitable Redroaster Coffee House and a good time had by all.
The next Pighog event is the last Thursday in October and you can book on line!
Note this is the link to post about comp winners in June incase you missed it.
Oh, and I was in the long list of 40 in the ‘Cinnamon poetry pamphlet comp. award’ I discovered they get hundreds, so decided not bad, but apparently Michaela was shortlisted in the Bridport. Wow!!