I’ve spent near a month now trying to figure out what I have to say about the Fringe Festival and even as I’m writing this I’m still not entirely sure.
I only was there for the last week of the festival and managed to cram in quite a few shows. Some including friends and poets I already knew like Dan Simpson’s show Nerdsmith and Sara Hirsch’s show How Was It For You?. I also was able to see others I knew nothing about like Gecko Theatre’s Institute. For the whole, the Fringe Festival became more like a week long learning exercise.
I’ll chose to not talk about everything I did at the fringe and just instead focus on some of my highlights. I’ll start with the Anti-Slam.
For those who may be unaware, the Anti-Slam is a slam with a twist, it’s one where the worst poet wins. They gather the best poets to write the worst stuff they can. This often includes them coming up with new on stage persona’s. I was lucky enough to be asked to take part in it during it’s one of night at the fringe and I took on the persona of 4 Chainz Da Ruler, a Grace Jones and Kanye West love child. It was truly terrible in the best kind of way. Also competing were the likes of Harry Baker, Keith Jarrett, Agnes Torok, Jenni Pascoe, Catherine Brogan and a few more awesome poets and it was incredible. My highlight being the eventual winners, Keith Jarrett and James McKay’s piece, including Keith being wrapped up in clingfilm.
Away from the Anti-Slam, I absolutely adored Antonym Theare’s Staricase. It was a series of small short scenes using the 5 cast members they had in various roles and it was brilliant. A great mix of laughs and feelings. The highs and the low’s all done so well and was just brilliantly put together and acted.
Lastly, Jibba Jabba. It was the fringe’s daily open mic night and whilst it was a stripped back version of what it normally is in its Newcastle home, what they brought to the fringe was special. The way it handles its open mic is just so skillful. With there being no sign up required, it’s literally a free-for-all and it works so well. This was highlighted so well on the last night of the Fringe where a lot of the poets who had their own show came down to the open mic and all just joined in on the free-for-all. There’s something special and surreal seeing the likes of Dan Simpson and Rob Auton open mic-ing with the rest of us. Especially when we were allowed to over-run by 2 hours so it was a full feast of poetry.
Overall, the fringe was great and if you do ever get the chance to go I urge you to head down.
London hosts a lot of poetry nights. If you wanted to, you could probably go to one each day. With that in mind, it’s hard to find ones that stand out and I’m not at all envious of anyone who hosts a night or makes a new night. So when a friend of mine decided to start a new open mic night I was intrigued to see how it’d fair against the other nights in London and my god it was great.
Run by Spike Zephaniah Stephenson, the night features an open mic, music, feature acts and pictionary. It was a beautiful night and felt different to a lot of other nights. I’m very curious to see how it goes on in the future.
I got up on the Open Mic whilst I was there to test out a new poem of mine, one about the wonderful and awesome friends I’ve made this year. It seems to be going down well and I’m just happy they are liking and enjoying it since my friends are awesome. My friends would beat your friends.
This has to be one of my favourite regular nights. Just so much love in that room and some really great poetry on offer there.
This month, I was actually asked to headline Boomerang Club. I’m still surprised I was asked but am very thankful to Joel Auterson and Jake Wild Hall for letting me do that.
It was just me talking for 20 (okay actually 23) minutes and I felt like I gave a good account of myself. There was a mix of old and new stuff and I’d like to thing a variety of topics I was talking about. It seemed to go down well, it was a brilliant audience to perform to as is often the case.
If you’d like to see highlights of me performing at Boomerang Club then here you go:
As for the rest of the night, the other features were Pat Cash and Rachael Black. I’d never seen Rachael Black before but had heard a lot about her beforehand so was very curious of what she’d be bringing, and she brought her A Game. I loved her set, loved seeing her do her thing.
Was also nice to see Pat Cash do a set. I’m so used to seeing him host Spoken Word London that it was a refreshing change to see him poet-ing. He’s really good too so that’s always nice to see.
As incredible as it was, I’m not going to go into detail about the open mic. There was just too much to talk about there so we’d be here for ages. I will say though that it was so good seeing Joel Auterson performing. With this month’s boomerang club falling the day after his birthday, we celebrated him turning 22 in style I’d say. Not only did he do his Taylor Swift inspired poem, before that we gave him his birthday present in the form of a vegan cake made by Jake and a Totoro cake made by Caroline Teague.
All in all Boomerang club yet again proved why it is one of my favourite nights in London
Back in June, I entered the Chocolate Poetry Club’s slam and was a finalist there. As a prize for making it to the final, I was invited back for August to do a 15 minute feature set of which I obliged.
The night, run by Paul Point, has always been an interesting poetry night. It attracts an eclectic mix of poets and there’s always something entertaining that’s for sure.
Photography by Seif Alaya – flic.kr/77cats
In terms of my set, I took the opportunity to be random this time. After spending the month editing and working on some of my older poems, I picked poems out of my folder at random to perform. It was a refreshing change of pace for me personally and feel like it might be something I do a few times in the future.
Photography by Seif Alaya – flic.kr/77cats
The other feature acts alongside me were Damian O’Vitch, Jasmin Sophie and Corrine Altass-Hye. All of which proved why they’d made it to the final of the slam. Jasmin Sophie imparticular wowed me with her final piece surrounding body image.
The open mic was as eclectic as ever with a wide range of voices heard. Not all were too my taste it has to be said but it was still entertaining and I would say I enjoyed the night.
I’m looking forward to next month’s event in large part due to the fact that next month the feature poet is Aisling Fahey. So that should be well worth watching.
On July 24th, I boarded a coach with a few poets on my way to my first festival, Nozstock: The Hidden Valley where I would be competing in that years Nozslam. We were there until Monday morning and my god, what a beautiful and amazing 4 days they were.
Firstly, it was brilliant to be around that group of people. With Rikki Livermore and Matt Cummins essentially acting as our lovely leaders, we also had a magnificent set of feature poets with us in the form of Joel Auterson, Katie Bonna, El Crisis, Sara Hirsch and Caroline Teague. Add that with the fellow slammers of Jack MacMillan and Daisy Thurston Gent and it just meant I was surrounded by great people, great friends and great poets which is a magnificent environment to be in.
We spent a lot of the time performing, with the Friday spent performing under a canopy gathering people who wanted to get out of the rain but then fell in love with our words. Saturday had us take over the comedy tent for a good two and a bit hours before Sunday was the day of the actual slam itself and 3 hours of beautiful poetry.
I could talk about these four days for hours, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. It was a fantastic four days, I learnt a lot, I experienced a lot, it was amazing and inspiring and I’d want to do it all over again. I still have glitter on me, I don’t think I’ll ever get the mud of some of my clothes but I have to say that was one of the best experiences of my life.
Below are the videos of me performing in the slam:
I hate late shifts. I really do. And sadly I was stuck on a late the same week that Spoken Word London was on. Thankfully I managed to make it there for the last half of it and did see the majority of my friends take on the open mic but I’m still a little bit gutted that I missed a major chunk of it.
Nevertheless though, what I saw was pretty damn incredible. The standard, as always, was great. Some really good poems as always. I also was able to jump on the open mic myself and I just generally felt so good about that performance and feedback wise it seemed to go down well.
There were two reasons why this one was really special though. The first being that it was Woody’s birthday and it was great to spend the evening with him. The other was Natsaha Gilbert. I’d seen her at a few events now and she made it down to the July FWYH and it would appear that she was so inspired by what she heard then that she wrote a poem in response and dedicated it to us. It’s a first for me I have to say and just really made me feel great inside so thank you for that. All of it just adding together to make yet another great Spoken Word London
Yet another one on the list of nights I haven’t been to but heard about was Lipped Ink! Like with She Grrrowls, Caroline Teague was featuring which gave me a good enough incentive to go there and I’m really glad I did. As seems to be the recurring theme with a lot of the events I’ve been going to, my friends kill it and continue to be awesome. I then also see new open mic-ers take to the stage and they wow me and kill me too. Lipped Ink kept up that trend and thankfully I had my camera on me so I caught a lot of it on film.
This also marked the first time someone requested for me to perform a specific poem which is a new one on me. I obliged and it seemed to go down a treat so I had a lot of fun. Anyway, whilst I didn’t get my performance on film, here are some of the videos I filmed on the night:
Kieren King – Not Every Childhood Story Is A Fairytale (Lipped Ink – July)
It’s a common thing to say in the poetry scene that if you wanted to, you could probably find a different poetry night every day of the week. That sadly says nothing about the quality just that there’s so many events going on. As a result of that, it means that you can miss a lot of nights people have talked about and one of the ones that I’d kept missing out on was She Grrrowls. I finally got round to going to their July one which coincidentally had my good friend Caroline Teague featuring at it as their musical guest.
Considering it was my first time there, I really enjoyed the night. A group of us went to support Caroline and the energy on the night was pretty great. I got on the open mic and tried out an updated version of a poem I really loved that seemed to go down well and Caroline killed her music set. The rest of the open mic-ers were great (I may be a little biased as I knew half of them) and as for the features, they each displayed something memorable.
Here is my time on the open mic filmed by Carmina Masoliver:
I’ve been doing poetry for almost half my life now, I’ve been to a lot of nights and experienced a lot of feelings but nothing compares to what happened this month. For some reason, without co-operating, a lot of the open mic-ers used this event to get a lot of what they’d been feeling off their chest. It was emotional, it was touching and it was powerful. The greatest thing about this was how much of a safe space FWYH has managed to create. Each night has its own vibe and I’m not sure how but full credit to Matt Cummins and Rikki Livermore for giving FWYH that vibe (and yes I am fully aware that Matt sadly couldn’t be there for this one until the very end)
There were a lot of tears but also of inspiration and I think people really needed a night like that. It brought people closer, it meant people said what they needed to say and just… it’s hard to put into words (he says as he calls himself a poet) but you really had to be there to experience this one and fully understand what went on.
I’ve only properly been going to open mic nights since the start of this year and one of the reasons why I fell in love with them has to be Boomerang club. It’s just such a warm and welcoming night and often has some really great poets stepping up. Has some pretty great features too. For their July show, I was particularly excited as they had Rhythm of Men and Dean Atta featuring this month.
Normally, I am on photo duty for the night but Daisy TG (who is a wonderful human being) kindly stepped in and took some good pics whilst I filmed the night.
As there were quite a few open mic nights this month and I only have so many poems, I chose to get on the open mic and do 5 minutes of short poems which was a refreshing change of pace for me. You can check out the videos below. Overall, Boomerang was a success yet again and I’m looking forward to next month when I’m headlining it!
Tyrone Lewis – Kanye West (Boomerang Club – July)
Tyrone Lewis – Walls (Boomerang Club – July)
Tyrone Lewis – When Harry Dumped Sally (Boomerang Club – July)