In praise of Lead Poets (once again).

While part of me is wondering why I should be travelling forty miles across the M62 to enjoy an evening of poetry, another part is telling me that, actually, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I still maintain there is a dearth of similar events in the Leeds area (unless, of course, you know otherwise) and the poetry scene in Manchester seems to be so much more vibrant.

Chorlton’s Lead Poets is the perfect example of what a good poetry night should be, and I was privileged to be there again on 8 October 2012. Lead Poets is friendly and informal, but with structure and planning so effective that the considerable efforts of Sarah L. Dixon in making the event a success almost go unnoticed. Sarah styles herself as The Quiet Compere – aptly so, in that whilst ensuring a smooth-running session, she makes sure the evening belongs to the participating poets, and takes her turn along with everyone else in reading engaging and entertaining poetry to an attentive, appreciative audience.

Lead Poets is not quite open-mic, in that there are a limited number of pre-booked slots to ensure a full ten-minutes for each reader, plus no poet may read at more than two events in succession (which rules me out for the next one – although be sure I’ll be there to listen and enjoy!) What I also particularly like is the absence of any hierarchy. There are no headliners or supporting acts; slots are allocated randomly (or to take account of performers’ preferences). Lead Poets attracts a range of experience, from seasoned, published poets to nervous first-timers; all are billed equally, and in my opinion the night is all the better for it.

It was lovely to spend time catching up with my wonderful poetic friends – thank you all once again! In the egalitarian spirit that is Lead Poets it would be wrong for me to single out any performance that was more memorable than any other, so I shall simply mention all those who took part in alphabetical order, offering my thanks and appreciation to all for a wonderful evening and celebration of the spoken word:

Annie Clarkson; John Darwin; Jimmy Doxford; Sarah L. Dixon (of course!); Rosie Garland; Rachel McGladdery; Sarah Pritchard; Solomon Scribble; Rachel Sills – and me, Martin Vosper.

See you next time!


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