The mellowing of poetry's 'MC Pol Pot'
A week is a long time in the borderline mentallist world of Merseyside poetry.
After a rather grumpy Bards in New Brighton just over a week ago came last night's pleasingly mellow session of The Liver Bards at the Ship & Mitre in Liverpool.
Now, in recent times I've stepped back from MC-ing these evenings.
After being the regular compère for years, I fancy a rest; I want to sit back and relax, and really enjoy listening to others poets, and also to concentrate on my own poetry and performance.
Last night I was a bit grumpy at first, but under the benign influence of poets Roger Cliffe-Thompson and Dave Costello sitting at the top table I soon relaxed.
Dave was in a distinctly chillaxed mood, which is surprising because he's become known as MC Pol Pot in recent months.
Dave didn't even baulk when I made a point of reporting the Tauntonator for "talking without permission". Yes, the same Tauntonator who stormed off in an almighty huff from the New Brighton Bards night more than a week ago!
Some faces from the early days of The Liver Bards (when we used to meet at The Pilgrim) turned up last night, including Margy and Terry.
And there were some new faces too, including Rachel (over from New Brighton) who read one of her poems in public for the first time. It is always a special moment when that happens ...
There was a guy there who didn't want to read but simply to listen. I'm guessing he's one of those people who are very quiet for the first couple of visits to a poetry night. Often we get people coming along to listen at first; then they start reading their poetry; then they start to write lots of poetry; and month by month they grow in confidence and eloquence.
That's what makes the poetry scene all worthwhile in the end; and makes all the stupid politics involved worth the bother.
Also at Liver last night was the great purveyor of humorous and philosophical tales, David Charters, who writes a cracking column in The Liverpool Post. Like me he is an old school hack with a newspaper colour-writing background.
A friend of David's - called Mike I think (though I'm very bad at remembering names) - read several fine poems, so I'm hoping we will see him again.
And we had 'Our Rita' there, which is always lovely, though 'Our James' (Dillon) couldn't make it because of an urgent family task.
I read two of my own poems - the family life satire 'Mackerel' and the social satire 'Rage in the Quiet Zone'. I also read two poems that are not by me - 'The Man With the Blue Guitar' by Wallace Stevens and 'Musee des Beaux Arts' by W H Auden.
We decided to finish the performance element of our night earlier than normal, specifically so that we could sit together socially and have a few more drinks and chat. That was all very enjoyable, as it goes, and much wine was taken. Well, much wine was taken by me and David Charters.
But absent last night were several regulars from the Wirral poetry scene. I'll be honest with you; I was VERY disappointed that not even one of the people from the Wirral Alliance of Poets (WAPS) bothered to turn up last night - despite me making a most impassioned and genuinely heartfelt speech to the WAPS committee only a few days ago.
I told the committee exactly how tough and tiring I'd been finding it doing so much organising and MC-ing for our two monthly poetry nights, and how I would welcome some help.
Anyway, some of those WAPS-ers apparently 'couldn't make it' to The Liver Bards because they were attending yet another committee meeting, one called by HATE (Heswall Arts & Theatrical Enterprise) - an organisation which is planning a festival for posh and complacent people to be sponsored by Chinless Wonders Picnic Hampers of Caldy and the Liberal Democrats.
Yeah, good luck with that, lads and lasses.