On Saturday May 29th, in conjunction with the Black Country Living Museum, and as part of their ‘Loff Out Loud’ festival, we’re running six online poetry workshops. These workshops are part of Creative Black Country’s ‘F Words’ project, working with people across communities to focus on fun, fabulous, feel-good ideas that bring people together. Find out more at creativeblackcountry.co.uk
If you fancy having a go at writing poetry which celebrates our region, our dialect, and our heritage, and you’ve 45 minutes – or an hour and a half for the longer ones – spare at some point during the day, come and join us. You can book in for one workshop, or choose to come to more. It’s up to you.
We’ll also be creating a PDF booklet of all the work produced on the day, so everyone who takes part will have the chance to see their work in a digital collection – hopefully emailed to them by the end of the day. It’s going to be a lot of fun. There’ll be plenty of poetry. Oh, and it’s entirely free. What’s not to like?
In June this year, our night Yes We Cant celebrates its fourth birthday! We started back in the Pretty Bricks in Walsall in June 2017 – with Jonny Fluffypunk headlining our inaugural event – and we’ve not looked back since. Apart from taking August off each year, with the vague plan of making it up to the Edinburgh Fringe (note: we managed it two years in a row) we’ve not missed a month. Yes We Cant has continued to run, even though the pandemic has meant we’ve now migrated onto Zoom.
It’s been an incredible success we don’t make anything like enough noise about. We’re proud as punch to have brought one outstanding headliner after another to our night in the West Midlands, and over all four years we can’t think of a single one who hasn’t delivered. Jonny got us off to the best of all possible starts, and Yes We Cant kicked on from there. Among the poetry stars who’ve stepped up to the mic and entertained us with their words are folk like Elvis McGonagall, Joelle Taylor, Liz Berry, Gerry Potter, Antipoet, Malaika Kegode, Luke Wright, Casey Bailey, and – most recently – Liv Torc, whose performance last month was off the scale wonderful.
But Yes We Cant isn’t just about the headliners. Each month we’ve had a reading from our ’Alf Ender, a poet who’s got a book or pamphlet of their work for sale, and we’ve also given local poets the opportunity to share their work in the open mic, which is a hugely important part of what PPP are about. Since we set Yes We Cant up, over 140 different open mic poets have performed at the night. That’s over 140 unique voices getting the opportunity to share what they have to say. We’ve watched them grow in confidence, learn to craft their work, and spread their wings. It’s been great.
And we’ve done all of this without any funding. Not because we’ve anything against funding of course – far from it – but because, well, because Yes We Cant is up and running and thriving on its own. It’s always been a pay-as-you-feel event (because we’re absolutely adamant that being skint shouldn’t stop you having the opportunity to enjoy a good night out) and we’ve always been able to pay our acts for what they do. It’s a success, and next month it’s going to be four years old. That’s going it some, in the poetry world. Huge thanks from us to everyone who’s helped make it happen.
P.S. We’ll be celebrating Yes We Cant’s fourth birthday on Sunday June 6th, when our headliner is Sophie Sparham, and Holly Magill is our ‘Alf Ender. Come along. Join us. It’s going to be superb.
In 2018, looking for a fresh way of presenting great poetry talent, and giddy with Wolves ascension into the Premier League, we hit upon the idea of a poetry event we called Home & Away. It would be a game of two halves, each of 45 minutes (see what we did there?) and feature two teams of poets. In the first half we’d have sets from three established Midlands poets, along with three cameo appearances from local rising stars. The second half would feature the ‘away’ team: three poets from another town or city, each doing fifteen-minute sets. The aim was to showcase what was happening elsewhere in the country, and have some fun doing so. And that’s exactly what we did, successfully bringing in teams from Derbyshire, Worcester, Stoke, Swindon, Milton Keynes, and Leeds before Covid put such things on hold.
It’s taken us a while, but we’re delighted to announce that we’re resurrecting Home & Away, and putting on an event on Tuesday 20th April. It’ll be on Zoom, of course, but we’re taking advantage of that to bring in a team of very talented poets all the way from Northern Ireland: Cat Brogan, Nathan Elout-Armstrong, and Michael Wilson, who’ve an array of awards and glowing CVs to their names.
Because we’re itching to do a gig ourselves, the three members of PPP will represent the Midlands: Our three rising stars – each of whom will bring their considerable talents to the night – are Priyanka Joshi, Sandra Robinson, and Gracey Bee. It’ll be a pay-as-you-feel event, and it’s going to be an absolute belter! Oh, and we absolutely and categorically promise that we will not be utilising VAR on the night. Or any other night, come to that. There’s no way we’re letting it ruin the free-flowing poetry entertainment we love so much.
Drop us a line if you’d like to be in the audience. We’ll send out the Zoom link on the morning of the event.
As it becomes ever clearer that we’ve got to adapt to the impact of Covid on our lives – at least till the promised vaccine is rolled out – more and more events are making the decision to keep going by setting themselves up to have a digital presence and livestream their programme. We’re very happy that Shrewsbury Literature Festival is joining in and ensuring it continues to provide top-quality arts and entertainment for folk in Shropshire (and beyond). Festivals like Shrewsbury are generally run on the hard work and goodwill of a small band of volunteers, and if you can support them in any way, please do. They’ve some great events in their line up and you can find them all here.
We’ll be running the poetry slam once more, on Saturday 28th November at 4.30pm. The line-up of fifteen poets is currently busy with intensive training so they’re in peak condition as they compete for your applause, appreciation, and a paid gig at next year’s festival. Meanwhile, our MC Dave Pitt is busy cleansing his chakras. Apparently that involves a lot of PS5.
Maybe you know a poet who’s taking part? Perhaps you’ve never seen a slam and want to see what the fuss is about? Or it could be that you’re at a loose end next Saturday, and want to support a small festival who are doing their best to bring the arts to their part of Shropshire. Whatever your reasons, we can promise you the slam will be fast-moving entertainment with all the usual pandemonialist fun and games, and some excellent poetry. Tickets are on sale here. Come and join us.
This photo is of a fully sold-out Arena Theatre. A photo of 150 people waiting expectantly for the start of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival poetry slam last Saturday.
That’s 150 people. For poetry. In Wolverhampton. On a mizzly Saturday evening in January. Not bad going, eh? When poetry has a great night like that it’s only right to make a song and dance about it, so yes, we are blowing our own trumpet, just a little. Because – from start to finish – we’re chuffed to bits with how the night went.
Any one of the fifteen poets could have won it, and there was some truly excellent work for the audience to savour. And some truly difficult decisions for our judges to make. And some truly heroic galumphing round the theatre by NOFB Pitt as he collected the scores. Sterling work, that man. He deserved that mid-show pint.
Our thanks to everyone who came along to cheer and applaud the poets who took part, to our judges for their vital contribution to the evening, and to the Arena Theatre for being a perfect venue. Scores were close all the way through, with just a point or two separating poets who went through to the next round from those who didn’t. Our final was a contest between Ben Davis, Clive Oseman, and Colin Wells, with Ben’s hilarious poem just pipping the other two to the winner’s podium.
By winning, Ben has bagged himself a paid gig at the 2021 Wolves Lit Fest. This Friday, Nick Lovell – who won the slam last year – will be taking up his paid gig by supporting the sublime nonsense of The Antipoet at Wolves Art Gallery. Those of you who’ve seen them before will know you’re in for a treat. As for those of you who haven’t seen them… trust us, you should. You really, really should. Tickets are on sale here. Get ‘em while you can!
It seems only yesterday that we sat in a pub over a beer or three (or four) and had the bright idea of setting up a regular poetry night in Walsall, and to be honest we’re not entirely sure where the time’s gone. But this month, Yes We Cant is two years old.
That’s two years of bringing top-notch poetry and spoken word to our part of the Black Country, and it’s all been done without any kind of funding. What’s more, we took the conscious decision that Yes We Cant (like so many of the nights we put on) would be a pay-as-you-feel event, so that anyone could turn up, take a seat, and give poetry a try.
It’s not only worked, it’s worked splendidly. We’ve brought poets like Johnny Fluffypunk, Brenda Read-Brown, and Elvis McGonagall to the function room of a real ale pub (who’ve supported what we’re doing from day one, thanks) and packed that room out. We’ve had excellent support slots from poets as diverse as Nellie Cole, Casey Bailey, and Paul Francis, all with books to sell. We’ve given a platform to a huge number of local poets who’ve stepped up behind the mic for the first time at Yes We Cant, got bitten by the performance bug, and come back again and again and again.
And now, we are two. This Sunday we’ll be celebrating as only the pandemonialists can. So come along to the Pretty Bricks for another night of great entertainment, for inclusive, exciting, top-notch word wizardry. Our headliner will be the effervescent Joe Cook, while Graham Attenborough travels in from Shrewsbury to take the ‘Alf Ender slot. If you’ve never been before, drop in, we’d love to see you. All of you are welcome. Again and again and again.
The high point in any poet’s calendar is a Poetry Slam hosted by Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists. 15 poets going head to head in a wild, fast moving, high energy competition. On 24th November, Purshouse and Pitt will be hosting the 2nd Shrewsbury Literature Festival Slam. Battle commences at 4pm in The Hive. Anyone who has seen a PPP slam will know how wonderful they are so get your tickets while they are still available.
Date and Time: Saturday 24th November 2018. 4pm – 6.30pm
Venue: The Hive, 5 Belmont Street, Shrewsbury. SY1 1TE.
On 30th October 2018 Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists will be hosting a new poetry and storytelling night at The Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton. It starts at 7.30pm and slots are between 5 and 10 minutes long.
Of course, being a PPP event it won’t be a standard open mic and a certain degree of craziness will also be going on. This is your chance to try things out in a safe space and stretch those creative tendons without fear of anything snapping.
If you want a slot or more information then please email our very own Mr Pitt who will be taking a grip on proceedings.