‘Bit of Verbal’ – by producer/performer Rupert Smith of Southbank Centre’s House of Homosexual Culture
(and do have a look at the photos of the performance in our previous blogs).
Don’t forget the Stonewall@40 event at London Literature Festival tonight!
It was with some trepidation that I decided to present a ‘poetry/spoken word’ event as part of the House of Homosexual Culture’s offering at the London Literature Festival. Generally speaking, I can’t stand live poetry, and I’ve sat through enough ghastly spoken word pieces to put me off for life. But, in the interests of stepping outside my comfort zone, I put together a programme of performers who, I thought, might redefine what a poetry event could be, and at the same time challenge a few of my own prejudices.
And boy, did we succeed. We had rappers, singers, comedians, performance artists and even – yes, even a poet or two. Ste McCabe opened the show with three angry, articulate songs, his polemical lyrics underpinned by fuzz guitar and drum machine. Ste is a real star of the new queer performance scene; his new album, Hate Mail, is well worth a listen. Next up was VG Lee, a novelist who has recenty branched out into stand-up, who kept kept us laughing with her account of a recent failed relationship before reading a great piece about a disastrous trip to the movies.
Gerry Potter used to be known as Chloe Poems, a gingham-clad ‘lady’ poetess who was a star of the 90s/00s performance scene. Gerry’s now ditched the drag, and found his own voice with fantastic accounts of growing up as a queer boy in the toughest part of Liverpool – and I think Gerry’s performance cured me for all time of my aversion to reading aloud. Closing the first half was Jacqui Applebee, who gave us a mouthwatering account of a sex-and-food orgy in New York before reading her fantastic, show-stopping orgasm poem, Yes Means Yes!
We opened the second half with the one and only David Hoyle, the biggest star of the gay performance and comedy scene today, who gave us his unique interpretation of Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale (‘how much was owed to this nightingale?’) and a selection from Wilfred Owen. David must win the prize for the greatest outfit in the festival: he looked like the lesbian love child of Yootha Joyce and Bette Davis. Finally, rapper QBoy returned to the festival to raise the temperature with a very sexy performance of tracks from his new album, Moxie – lyrics, messages, dance moves and very nice abs. Ste and David sang us out with a unique duet of Ste’s Huyton Scum vs David’s rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain.
I challenge anyone else in the Festival to name a more entertaining event. We played to a packed house in Spirit Level, and we’ve had fantastic audience feedback. I hope we’ve proved that lesbian and gay people do poetry with as much talent and imagination as anyone.