I was at Wicked Words’ quarterly Showcase Event this Wednesday, an evening that demonstrated what a rich tapestry the world of performance poetry can be. The entertainment kicked off with Jamie H Scrutton, an established Wicked Words poet whose pièce de resistance involves donning a bright pink wig and black Belvia bra (stuffed with what looked like tin-foil), whilst cavorting about the stage belting out poetry about the said bra’s magical powers of transformation in the wearer.
Jamie was swiftly followed by Skylab (aka Caleb Parkin) who had debuted at Wicked Words only the previous month. Nothing on that evening could possibly have hinted at the majesty of Skylab in full flight. Taking to the stage in a white decontamination suit, and with the aid of some ingenious headgear, Skylab took on variously the personae of rat, urban fox and – best of the lot in my opinion – a cockroach, complete with metre-long (at least!), retractable antennae that had those closest to the stage fearing for their eyeballs, as he read a set of thought-provoking poetry on the theme of Vermin, each poem addressed to the human from the creature’s point of view.
The second-half was given over exclusively to Bristol poet Anna Freeman, who appeared dressed neatly in jeans and cardi – which, it has to be said, came as something of a relief to many present. Her gentle (but not too gentle) and engaging style was put to good effect in a set that variously covered topics such as love, loss, embarrassing parents, and wonderful poetry about being ginger that could put Tim Minchin to shame. Anna knew all her work by heart and her endearing, self-deprecating style quickly won over the tough Leeds audience. Anna has that wonderful knack of being able to create poetry that’s intimate and personal, but with which anyone who has loved, lost, been brought up by embarrassing parents – or is blessed by being ginger – can identify. Come back soon, Anna.
Brendan McPartlan was ever the genial host, generally leaping around and attempting to whip the audience into a frenzy at every possible opportunity. Such a shame that a few more didn’t make it along to what was a thoroughly diverse and entertaining evening. Not all poets appearing at Wicked Words may suit all tastes, but by goodness, it’s entertaining and you can pretty much guarantee there’ll always be something for everyone – and surely, that’s the wonder of poetry. So maybe next time see you there, eh?