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Poetry Review - Exposed

by Tigger23 

Posted: 08 September 2006
Word Count: 542

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Theatre Review

Poetry Review Exposed

Cutting edge poetry was the order of the day, when Apples and Snakes, the countries leading performance poetry organisation performed the first of its preview shows for its biggest project to date, Exposed.

Five poets performed work influenced by the theme of Exposure, of being exposed, or of exposing something to the outside world. Much of the work had a sense of catharsis, describing as it did regrets, relationships, death, and the unresolved nature of many elements within life.

Much of the work was dark, and touched upon disturbing subject matter, but at times it was shot through with the clarity of human understanding. The five poets had mainly memorised their work, adding character, and personality to poems and ideas that fizzed with life, with pizzaz and defiance.

Starting the evening was invited guest Leila Rasheed, who read seven of her poems, which were not based around the subject, but ranged in subject from the work of office temps, to darker and more abstract themes.

The first of the five poets up was Yusra Warsama whose street smart performance style gave rise to stacetto bursts of rhyme, in an intense twelve minute display that used street language, and story telling to explore a number of different themes.

David Higgins was on next, with his performance starting and ending with an acappella reading of My Bonnie. His performance style was energetic, often turning from a shout to a whisper within the same phrase, and the intensity of his message was very well communicated, as well as being very accomplished.

Finishing the first half was Claire Williamson, who started her performance with a piece that explored being blond, which led to many other points. Her second poem concerned the death of her older brother, and was perhaps the most moving poem of the night.

The second part of the night was convened by David J, whos heavily politicised work had a radical edge to it, asking questions with no proper answers, and raising points that the audience may not have known about. In many ways he was part Benjamin Zephaniah and part Mark Thomas, seeking to exposing the comfortable lies that help to cover uncomfortable truths.

Closing the evening was Polar Bear, the performance poet Steven Camden. His work looked over his childhood, and told of the relationship he had with his cousin, and the many and varied turns that took, from playing jokes on their grandmother when they were young, to the ennui that he felt after leaving university, with debt, and a vague idea for a book. He related how he was often compared to his cousin by family members, and although the piece contained humour and much humanity, and elements that the whole audience could relate to, it still had an under lying sense of melancholia and pathos.

Each poet received an ovation from the smallish, but rapt audience. Although Poetry is sometimes seen as the reserve for a very small group within society, it can relate to an audience in a way that is unique. Poetry has received something of a renaissance lately, and with these five performers the art form is in safe hands.

The tour continues nationwide. Visit www.applesandsnakes.org for more information.

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Comments by other Members

Richard Brown at 17:51 on 08 September 2006  Report this post
A good review in my estimation - very clear and with enough atmosphere to make me (not normally one for poetry readings) think that if the show comes my way I might go!

Only two little niggles. There's a repetition of 'much of the work' in paras 2 & 3 and a repetition of 'night' in paras 7 & 8 - told you they were little but they very slightly marred my enjoyment of the piece.


scoops at 10:31 on 09 September 2006  Report this post

This is well written and observed but you've fallen into the trap of giving equal weight to every performance irrespective of its value.

A reviewer's job is to cherrypick both the highs and, if they're there, the lows in a performance or event, and demonstrate the value of what they have seen to potential ticket buyers. Was the overall even worthwhile, or not?

It is also incumbent upon the reviewer to entertain. The piece would work better if you wrote 'through' some of your views rather than presenting them as a list.

When word counts are tight - as they are with any form of journalism, avoid repitition. Remember that nobody's going to read about a poetry evening unless they already have an interest in poetry, so avoid stating the obvious, too. For example:

Five poets performed work influenced by the theme of Exposure, of being exposed, or of exposing something to the outside world.

This could just read: Five poest performed work on the theme of exposure.

There's no need to repeat what you've said, or to explain the obvious.

I think you've made a really good start here, but you need to be show more confidence in your opinions and say what worked for you, rather than skirting around the issue:-)



erratum: overall event, not even.

James Graham at 15:54 on 12 October 2006  Report this post
I do get the impression from your review that the event was good and worthwhile, but agree with Shyama that maybe you could have pointed up your own responses, what worked well and not so well for you, and taken more of a stance on the overall value of the event.

But your review still sent me back to the Apples and Snakes website, as well as searching elsewhere for more info on some of the poets, especially Yursa Warsama - who, from your brief description, I would certainly like to see perform.

Performance poetry (though there's good, bad and indifferent, as with anything else) can be a genuine alternative form of the art. Maybe in your article you could have been more up-front in promoting the genre - saying to your readers: 'Never thought of going to a performance poetry event? Well, if you'd been to this one, you might think again'.


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