Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Acoustic Night Halo Gloucester Rd Bristol 16 July

Acoustic Night 16th July 2007 Halo Bristol

Andi, resplendent in a white knitted top and a pair of leg coverings was in a funny mood, into a species of randomness as the faithful gathered in the Corvaggian half-light of the performance area for the 39th time. She announced that our special Californian guest had been intercepted by a jobsworth at the airport and found to be short of a work permit, and was therefore not permitted to work. Since when has poetry been work? What is the world coming to? It is clearly going to the dogs.

A mysterious stranger dressed all in black, one Ian Kognita, kicked off. And what a kick! There was a palpable sense of threat as he powered through an episode of French events and glory days.

Gina Brigante reminded us that sex without love is just like…well…sex without love, before taking us to the great hole in the ground that is the New Broadmead, and universalising the construction that she saw taking place. Building works peel the skin off our superficial reality, revealing the claggy clayey planetary substance that lies beneath, hungrily waiting to receive our bodies back into itself once we have finished with them. In this she anticipated Wilf and his memories of cyclistic transport arrangements.

August 10th, said Andi: slam poets Disraeli and Dreadlocks. Sept ember 10th Instant Anthology, bring 75 copies of one poem, before introducing

David Sollars , who continued the theme of oppression and threat with a tour de force of an oppressor bearing down on a helpless child “your Wendy house a tin hut piled with skulls”.

Phil Laver shone a ray of Spanish sun into the rain-bedraggled Halo with his flamenco “Dance me ‘til I die” which argues most convincingly that dance is what it is all about, and without it life is nothing, or practically nothing. Then he refreshed us with his well-known and loved “Guitarra” which was impeccable but for the sudden case of wilt affecting the mike stand. Andi explained that it was purchased in Lidl, entirely the fault of the audience because we are too skimpy with our voluntary doughnations. To me, it looked like a case of brewers droop. Never mind, what the mike lacked in stand-upness, it made up for by being VERY LOUD INDEED.

The inimitable Bristol poet John Terry made the long walk to the drooping mike stand and told us a tale of magic and science, leading up to the thesis that the Eve’s Yang was yet to be balanced with a male Yin (or was it the other way round? It is so easy to mix the two up, and so difficult to disYinYangle them). His next learned exposition was of silences, and the exhortation to ignore the words that lay between the silences.

James Bunting had a Bazooki named Sue (how do you do?) and sang first of memories of forgetfulness … the soul that loves to swim… none of me… every day, all drugstores and canapés, before launching into Country Life, the sorrow of silent fields, empty lanes drifting smoke, cattle burning in funeral pyres, the bitterness of a country boy watching his world being torn apart by the insanity of a bureaucratic (MAF/DEFRA) response to a minor cattle affliction that was foot and mouth UK 2001.

Rosemary Dun (www.rosemarydun.co.uk,) brought with her rained-out refugees from Ashton Court, and told her tragic tale of how she was not only unable to do drugs, but now finds that drinking makes her drunk. Never mind R. Try chocolate. Next we find that Rosemary loves to make passes at men who wear glasses, Xray-ted 4 eyes, horny rims, the clash of specs as the kiss is neared. We know what you mean.

Talking Tekla the Narrata on next. What a guy! Impeccable dress sense, a face that lights up the room, 180 word-a-minute delivery, yet intelligible and intelligent with it.

He launches into Greed, we think yes, do them for being greedy b*stards, then it turns out that “I am you and you are me and we are Greed” and this is true, we are greedy. It is us doing the harm, not them. Which is good, because now we know that we can do something about it. Then he refreshed our memory of his run-in with the AA man – a classic that will one day be taught in schools. A morality tale of the days when dogs shat on the pavements, men had girlfriends and AA men were allowed to carry spanners.

After the break Andi sang of four and twenty virgins come from Inverness, before setting before us a tale of the gig manager earning his just reward for his labours, going on to challenge the morality, attractiveness or indeed the very existence of gods who backed barbaric acts of communal murder by having rocks thrown at your head.

Rosemary returned with a song of her life, in all its different phases – pony, mermaid &c - all filled with longing.

Gordon Graft new on the poetry scene, but speaking with a fluidity suggesting a lifetime of experience, giving voice to that lifetime in a poetic vernacular, told of gang warfare in the days when a shaven head was an existential statement not a lifestyle choice, and what that meant in terms of getting into fights in fairgrounds.

Mike Chambers set out the peculiar stress of falling between two identities, being accepted neither in England or Jamaica, in fluent language that gained immediate 100% acceptance with the population of the Halo. Followed by a classic poem of great emotional and human intensity, the message of a son to a father. Followed by another poem of power, the desire to be seen as just a person, the desire to be “normal”. No chance of that Mike: as a poet you are outstanding.

Pauline Moya gave two poems for Ali, impregnated with philosophical wisdom: “A pigeonhole is the only safe place for a narrow mind... Singing in the dark is reasonably harmless… Resistance is agile”.

Marko’s guitar gave us a song of hot dust that carries death upon its kiss, and an angry howl of personal and political politics, a song of pain and frustration, with only the plucked strings of the guitar somehow able to hold it all together, expressing a deep underlying harmony in the universe so badly distorted by human self seeking and foolishness that would make a chimpanzee hold its head and rock slowly bak and forth, wondering where it all went wrong…. It ended “Enjoy your lives…we’ll disappear into the forest”, which presupposes that someone has got it together to re-plant it – boring and backbreaking work though that may be.

Richard Lawson came forward to read a tiny fragment of his 6th century Cornish Celtic epic, the story of Tristan and Yseult, told from the standpoint of the half-mad hermit Ogrin. The rest of it is up here: http://www.greenhealth.org.uk/Ogrin.htm

Continuing the reach back into history, Phil Laver led up a clutch or possibly clinch of musicians and singers possibly called Sly Yend who put on John Barleycorn and Matty Groves, taking us back to countless places in history where the English gather in dimly lit rooms to hear stories and songs of conviviality, love and passion.

Guy Herbert kept the theme of love and threat going with a kiss poem worthy of Salvador Dali, a Knife Named Moses, and a romance that laid the motive for romance more than bare.

Wilf created a man then blew him up into a cloud of semi-toxic confetti, just to prove that “you can write about anything. Anything”. Which is true. Even more true, if such a thing is possible, was his memory of being on his dad’s bike seat as a child. From such a simple thing, a stream of consciousness flows, the “substance of my headspace”.

Then stepped forward the mighty Julian Ramsey Wade with a beautifully crafted plea for his friend to realise that he was drinking more than is good for him. A poem that could and indeed should be given to every alcoholic in the country. Put the liver transplant surgeons out of a job. He followed it up with an epic journey to work, where slowly the humdrum turns into the humdinger, as he addresses his fellow passengers on the bus on the subject of the pointlessness of their economic endeavours, with the result that he finds himself walking the last section of the journey. This man Julian is a fine fine poet, his language and his themes are worthy of national recognition, and we are lucky to have him in our Bristol midst.

In fact, the whole Bristol poetry scene is fizzing and jumping with talent, and in days to come people may look back at the Halo and say, “God, that was good, there was so much talent there, I wonder what it was like actually to be there, soaking up the atmosphere, drinking it all in.” Well, you can find out. £30th July. Halo, Gloucester road. 7.45 if you want to stand before the wilting mike . £2 or whatever you can afford in the jug. Be there or be a four-sided figure.

Richard Lawson


Alan Summers said...

Great article Richard! I think I'll be bringing more Bath poets down there. Gordon Graft is a brilliant poet isn't he?

By the way, I believe it's Miles Chambers?

Thanks for doing this article, as I really miss the Halo and must come down to the big bad wicked city for more Acoustic Night!

DocRichard said...

It probably is Miles Chambers. Never trust my names or dates. I am an impressionist.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

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zo said...


I was having a look for poetry, music and creative things in Bristol and came across your article...

I just wanted to say thanks for sharing, I'll have to check out halo some time :)

DocRichard said...

So, Zo, Go Halo, yo!