Why Did This Take Me So Long?
I have a confession to make, I am a sucker for branding. Maybe it is 40+ years watching commercial television, or maybe my 20+ years in the events industry and convincing the public to do things with carefully deceptive language, but branding for me, has always had an impact (probably more than it should).
As such, all the way through the dark days of lockdown, losses and setbacks, and long nights of the soul, while I saw the rise of the virtual poetry gig, and whilst I was aware of The Sad Poets Doorstep Club, and how many rave reviews it was getting, I shied away. Confession number two, most of 2020 my mental health was in a fragile place, I just didn’t feel I could risk being made any sadder by poetry however good it might prove to be. This was, of course, a baseless fear, but like I say, I am a sucker for branding…
Even at their most uplifting the literary arts can be triggering, so much so, it has become a common part of audience safeguarding for nights, and the individual poets themselves, to give trigger warnings, and these warnings are always appreciated. I really needn’t have worried about The Sad Poets Doorstep Club in any way, Crow Rudd does an amazing job, both as host and in safeguarding the audience.
The episode on the 17th September 2021, for Margate Bookie was different though, things had recently reopened, events were running, and I was gainfully employed again after a year. So finally I felt robust enough that I could expose myself to the powerful words without risk of breaking. It is a weird thing volunteering to be vulnerable around other people being vulnerable, so finally feeling robust enough really is a thing. And I was rewarded by a stellar line up.
Jay Mitra, Malin Fox, Loraine Mponela, Matt LT Smith, Laura Graham, Leanne Moden, Robert Garnham, and Camille McCawley on the open-mic were amazing, any one of them could headline a poetry night (many do already), so the the quality was consistently very high.
Tyrone Lewis, our first headliner gave a consummate performance, including an heartfelt tribute to one of our cohort taken by COVID at just 28. “This one is for my mum” and “Man walks into a bar” will always cheer and inspire, and “Too Black, Too Furious”, which Tyrone joked would be the titular piece of his new collection is one of those poems that has everything. You can buy Tyrone’s collection with Burning Eye here: Buy Blackish
Joelle Taylor’s mesmerising performance of sections of her latest collection C+nto was just spectacular. Joelle must be mid-tour with this tour-de-force, and just how one transmits that level of physicality and passion through a Zoom window whilst prepping or another event that same weekend is something akin to alchemy. I have seen Joelle live many times and have been consistently blown away, this was no different, except this time she came into my home via my laptop screen and shock me to my core. It was nothing short of magic. And the poetry in C+nto is genuinely breath-taking. You can buy Joelle’s celebrated latest collection here: Buy C+nto
I am left with a repeating fragment from Matt LT Smith’s stunning open-mic “not meant to be here”, a mantra for those of us on the outside, for whom it often seems our very existence is an act of protest. Those of us that to dare to speak, becomes an act of sedition. Sad Poets Door Step Club reminds those of us like this, that we are not alone. And that is a gift, it truly is.
Thank you to Crow Rudd, the Margate Bookie Young Producers and all involved in Sad Poets Doorstep Club, for putting together a truly wonderful poetry event, an uplifting poetry event, and a safe space for the those of us who need one to connect with others. I can see why it was a lifeline to so many, and I am just gutted it took me so long to join in.
Don’t be like me, catch the next one just as soon as you can.
You can view the Young Producers Sad Poets Doorstep Club in full here.