None of us want to be under lockdown, of course (pubs, remember them?) and we’re really missing our regular poetry events (that’s pubs again, if you weren’t sure) but if there is one delightful glimmer of light in the coronavirus darkness, it’s the advent of the online poetry shindig. What a revelation!
Maybe such things existed before, we don’t know. And why would we have cared when we were knee-deep in real-life poetry events, with real people there in the same room, probably in a pub, in a world where social distancing was nothing more than a measure of how un/comfortable you got round others (not unknown at poetry events).
Needs must, however. And, it would appear, needs sometimes come up trumps. With both PASTA and Yes We Cant kicked into the long grass until who knows when, we decided to hold online editions, held – on our group page on Facebook – at the very time the actual event would have taken place, and invited people along.
It worked. Boy, it worked. Last night’s Yes We Cant – Clive Birnie as ‘Alf Ender, Hannah Swingler headlining – had a full house of open-mikers, and over seventy people joining in by commenting on or reacting to the poems. Over seventy people!! From all over the UK!! We had poets from Belfast, Swindon, West Yorkshire, the Potteries, and Worcester, as well as our Black Country regulars, and that made for an electrifying mix.
If you run a regular poetry night and haven’t given this a go, we recommend you try it. Yes, the cool kids are using Zoom, but if you haven’t got broadband or you don’t quite feel up to the challenge of having a bunch of folk stare at you from your computer screen, the Facebook option is worth exploring (get in touch if you want to know more). We’ll definitely keep doing this, and learning more as we go along, no doubt.
Who knows, we may even keep it as a thing once the pubs have re-opened…