Review: Scratch Tyne, 21/10/12

by Felicity Powell

Essentially there are two ways to get a bit of poetry into your system; the first of course is to get a book and read it yourself. This works well enough, I for one certainly enjoy it, especially when analyzing it for my degree. But for a real kick, you need to leave the comfort of your four bedroom walls and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth (or in this case, the poet’s).

Such a thing I decided to do last Sunday, when I walked down to Commercial Union House on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, for a night of spoken word with Scratch Tyne, a monthly event hosted by ApplesandSnakes.

The stage was set with microphones, but instead of an intimidating grid of chairs, the audience were assembled on sofas, or around small tables, even one or two of those little aerobics trampolines were scattered about. Not quite trusting myself to behave with dignity whilst seated on one these, I took a sofa instead.

“Now this is the way to hear poetry”, I said to myself (or rather thought it, I had just met these people, didn’t want to reveal any quirks that could be misinterpreted for madness just yet).

After introducing myself in a thoroughly sane manner to those seated nearest me, the stage was taken by Kirsten Luckins, the North-East coordinator for ApplesandSnakes. The perfect hostess, she welcomed all and, before the show went on, got the audience to do a bit of preparation: we practiced our cheers, our clapping and foot stamping until the mood was exuberant.

I shall have to remember how she did this, I’ve been to several performances where the audience could have done with some severe work on their vocal appreciation (seriously, who doesn’t laugh at a pantomime nowadays?). In any case, the poets were relaxed, the audience raring to receive them, so off we went.

On came the poets. Such a range there was, a mix of Scratch Tyne regulars and fresh-off-the-line newcomers. Some read from notes, others from memory, all performed a single poem admirably. All kinds of poetry too: personal, political, humorous and serious. I was gladdened to see such diversity, and we were an appreciative crowd: I went from crying with laughter to contemplating the deeper meaning of life at the change of a mic.

A personal favourite was a performance from Jeff Potts, the final poet to take the stage. Jeff has a talent for combining poetry with physical theatre; for bringing his words to life, or in this case, a fully-fledged werewolf (howls and all) to the stage.

It was a night of two halves, each containing six poets and concluded by a band. Both bands (Jacket and the Scruffs, and Aztec Bangles) played brilliantly, their acoustic melodies definitely brought something special to the evening.

Overall, I had a really enjoyable time. I can’t wait to see what talent next month will bring.

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