by Sashka Drakos
Nestled downstairs in Stage 3 at Northern Stage, there was a cosy anticipation as we all gathered around bistro-esque tables. The night kicked off with Bridie Jackson and the Arbour. The female quartet had a casual, unassuming stage presence, but were nonetheless captivating with a haunting bluesy style (which completely won over this punk rock fan enough to purchase one of their very affordable CDs afterwards).
Organiser and the night’s MC Jeff Price then treated us to two of us own poems – ‘The Late Adopter’ and ‘Bedhead’ – which provided humorous and engaging reflections on parent-child interaction and the process of growing older.
Next up was Bob Begrene, who combined soundscapes to augment his poetry with a kinaesthetic aspect from the poignant rain behind ‘My Grandmother’s Ghost’ to the almost techno beat replicating the sensation of being drunk, stoned and lost in Amsterdam in ‘Stray City’.
In a sharp twist of tone, we were then introduced to the quirky wit of David Johnson, who kept the audience chuckling as he blended his introductions into poems that played with innuendo, confession and audience expectations with masterful ease.
Post-interval brought the return of Bridie Jackson and the Arbour, as well as a few more teaser’s from Jeff Price’s book A Toe in the Tarn. Mike Edwards followed, who used contemporary language in social commentary via snippets of everyday life.
Zena Edwards (no relation to Mike) closed off the night. If you’ve never had the privilege of seeing Zena perform, I strongly suggest heading to YouTube right this minute to get a taste of what you’ve been missing. She weaves music and rhythm into her poetry, effortlessly brings to life multiple characters and engages with a breadth of topics from her own experiences (‘Annie’s House’) to wider issues (‘As Property Protests’).
As promised at the beginning of the night, Radikal Words presented a range of poets with different skills and styles which all also seemed to complement each other and left you eager for the next night.
The evening was put on with the support of Apples and Snakes, which focuses on promoting and developing spoken word artists. Radikal Words is launching a new project in January 2013 which will allow 5 poets to shadow an experienced poet coach in schools in North Tyneside (deadline 21st December). Be sure to keep up with both groups on Facebook and Twitter.