In the midst of exams (hence the deplorable lack of posts recently) I re-found the simple joys of sharing literature at the York Theatre Royal’s spoken word night ‘Words and Whippets’ last Saturday.
Hosted by the charmingly witty Henry Raby, this poetry evening was a showcase of talented emerging spoken word poets based in or from Yorkshire. As a born and bred Southerner myself, I was a little dubious about this category – but it did not disappoint. In fact, it really struck me how each poet introduced themselves by where they were from – some had lived in Yorkshire all their lives, others had moved away or relocated North – each performance began with a firm declaration of place. But having moved home and started at university in the last two years, that oh-so-simple-sounding question ‘so, where are you from?’ isn’t always that oh-so-simple to answer.
As a genre, poetry can be the most intimate form of literature, a hand reaching out in the night to express those feelings that somehow usually defy expression. But what I love about spoken word is how that feeling of intimacy can draw a room of people in for that one moment, listening to a single voice. Despite all our experiences, despite wherever we might be from (two of the friends I went with are from Texas and Mumbai) we can all share in those moments.
The ones to watch out for:
Henry Raby (York): a wonderful, energetic host. Not a half-bad poet either: at times funny whilst also touching, his poetry is spoken with such a passion that it is hard not to be enraptured by his performance.
Genevieve Carver (York, Sheffield): soft yet powerful, Genevieve’s poetry poignantly illustrated the grind of day to day life, in a way that celebrates those moments that might otherwise pass us by.
Sally Jenkinson (Bristol, Doncaster): Sally gave a truly brilliant finale performance. A definite highlight for me, I found her poetry about the difficult, exciting and confusing journey of growing into adulthood deeply moving.
Raph Attar (South East London, Leeds): Hailing more from my neck 0f the woods but a now converted Yorkshireman, Raph’s poems sounded rather suspiciously like raps for a ‘poetry’ night. Inspiringly imaginative bursts of joy, Raph’s performances had the audience laughing from start to finish, breaking the awkwardness of audience participation with his most frustratingly-stuck-in-your-head but hilarious “Gary Barlow”. If anyone doubts the status of rap and poetry, please see below.