Welcome to 2022. We kicked it off (poetically) with Yes We Cant on Sunday, and our little collective will be meeting up next week – over a virtual pint and virtual battered chips, which we know full well won’t be a patch on the real thing – to hatch our plans for the coming year.
We know there will be poetry slams, and Wolves Lit Fest, and Yes We Cant already. We’ve also chosen the local charity whose work we’ll be supporting (see this blog for how we do that). Last year, we focussed on The Well foodbank, who do so much to alleviate the worst of the poverty and hunger in our city. This year, we’ll be raising money for the equally invaluable Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary, who help and support asylum seekers and refugees locally, and challenge the hostility and discrimination they face. You can read about their work here.
Thanks to you, we raised over £300 for The Well in 2021. That’s poetry, and poets, making a difference. Let’s see what we can do in 2022.
Back in pre-pandemic days, when we still held our monthly spoken word night Yes We Cant in the Pretty Bricks, we’d put an empty pint glass in front of our Fund-Raising Rabbit (a stuffed toy, if you’re wondering) for folk to throw in any shrapnel they couldn’t be bothered taking home. At the end of the year, we’d add up the total of the change thrown in there, and donate it to a local charity.
Each year since then, PPP has continued to raise money for a designated charity in our region. This is made up of a % of the fees we get for running slams and workshops, along with money which is left over from our online Yes We Cant nights once we’ve paid our feature poets.
This year, thanks to the generosity of audience members at our pay-as-you-feel events, we’ve raised a total of £341.24 for The Well foodbank in Wolverhampton, who do such vitally important work in helping care for the most vulnerable and needy folk in our city. We’ll be sending that their way very soon.
Thank you all for your help in making that possible, you wonderful people. We wish every one of you a happy and healthy festive season, and all the best for 2022. See you on a Zoom screen soon!
The final Yes We Cant of the year is almost upon us, and what a night it’s going to be! We always aim to bring the best in UK poetry to our events, and we’re delighted that Jane Burn – whose work is consistently placed in poetry competitions, who has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Forward prizes, and whose collection ‘Be Feared’ is now out on Nine Arches Press – will be our headline poet. She may even bring her ukulele. We’re also decidedly chuffed that Rick Sanders (aka Willis the Poet) will be beaming his whimsical goodness down the Internet from Dudley to be our ‘Alf Ender, and that we’ll have ten open-mic poets (there’s just one spot left at the time of writing) completing this cavalcade of poetry!
Jane will also be running an online poetry workshop for PPP that afternoon (Sunday December 5th) on the theme of mythology and fairy tale. It will run from 2-4pm, will have a maximum of 14 participants, and will cost £10 per person (payable in advance). We still have a few places left on this, so if you’d like one, get in touch sharpish! In order to make this workshop as accessible as possible, PPP will cover the cost of two places for folk on low incomes. If you need one of those, let us know when you apply.
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.
We’ve had some great times at Yes We Cant over the past two years, and last night’s poetry shindig was right up there with the best. It was one of those special evenings where everything fell perfectly into place. Narwhal notepads for competition winners (and how many poetry nights offer that?), a VAR decision on an open-mic poem, a stuffed rabbit collecting loose change for charity, and a Captain Morgan pint glass redistributing wealth. Phew.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also had the launch of the first ever Hundred Club poetry pamphlet – congratulations Jane James!! – and a headline set from Ben Davis which was just off the scale. Utterly superb. Clever. Witty. Hilarious. Poetry delivered at a hundred miles an hour, and then some. Turns out this was Ben’s first ever headline poetry gig. All we can say is that poetry promoters should be queueing up to offer him more. And to book Jane, too. You won’t regret it, they’re both ace.
Great things are happening in a Black Country back-street boozer, and we’re chuffed to bits about it. Get yourselves over to Walsall in October for more Yes We Cant magic. It might just change your life.
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.
Did you all have a nice Summer? Are you tanned and relaxed and ready for what the autumn will throw in your face? At PPP, we’re ready for anything Autumn launches in our direction thanks to Yes, We Cant. Yes, after our Summer hiatus we bring you the excellent Rob Barratt headlining. Rob will be bringing his unique word-play and satire for the bronzed and serene Walsall audience.
To top that, in our ‘alf ender slot we have superb poet and all round good egg Nina Lewis. She’s also been Worcestershire Poet Laureate so wear a nice hat or something.
And as usual four open mic slots will be up for grabs on the night, we’ll have our eight-line poetry competition and the bar will serve outrageously good beer and ridiculously cheap cobs.
How much will all this cost? It’s free. Although, we do have a donation bucket (a Communist Hat of Wealth Re-distribution).
It all kicks off on 2nd September 2018 at The Pretty Bricks, John Street, Walsall. WS2 8AF. Doors are at 7pm and the show starts at 7.30pm. Even better we’re usually done for half nine so you can go home and wash the autumnal breeze out of your hair.