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Ye Olde Poetry

Ye Olde Poetry

I ventured the short distance between Abergavenny and Newport twice this week — once to perform my poetry, once to listen to other poets. I enjoyed both nights immensely!

Wednesday 18 July 2018

I was delighted when poet Gareth Writer-Davies invited me to be a co-headliner at Ye Olde Murenger House pub in Newport. Gareth read first, from his new collection of poems, ‘The Lover's Pinch’ (Arenig, ), and also read from his previous poetry pamphlet, Cry Baby (Indigo Dreams, 2017).

Gareth Writer-Davies fleshes out his twin subjects of love and sex in poems of affection, sardonic humour and a characteristic lightness of touch that makes his first collection both exceptionally readable and an intimate pleasure.

I have been asked several times whether Writer-Davies is his real surname or whether it is an addition to draw attention to the fact he is a writer. He has assured me that it is indeed his real surname and, because I can still sense you are doubtful, here is what the surname writer means:

Last name: Writer

SDB Popularity ranking: 8588
This is a medieval English surname. It is occupational and does describer one who wrote. It originates from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'writere' which translates as a copier of manuscripts, a very important occupation in the days before the introduction of printing from about 1480.

(© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017)

I did my regular 20 minute memorised set that features poems from my pamphlet, Dressing Up (Cinnamon Press, 2017) plus three poems that are not in the pamphlet; Silent Nights and Speaking to the Birds are chapters 1 and 10 respectively from a short story in verse I aim to have ready for publication as part of my first collection, and Colours, a poem about how blind people still have favourite colours.

This was the third time I've read with a microphone angled millimetres from my mouth ... this time I managed to read without bopping it with my hand whilst reading Speaking to the Birds, in which I gesture once to the left and once to the right, and when reaching for my bottle of water to lubricate the delivery between poems.

It was with great delight that somebody I had met at a poetry afternoon at Octavo’s in Cardiff Bay came up to talk to me — she does a lot with poetry in the Swansea area so I aim to do some readings at her poetry events when I am back there very shortly. I sold 5 copies of my pamphlet and will need to re-order more stock because I'm running out! That's a nudge that, if you haven't read my pamphlet already, the stocks at Cinnamon Press won't last forever either ... hint hint ;)

Thursday 19 July 2018

I was due to see John Cooper Clarke read at The Riverfront in Newport back in March, but the legendary JCC was ill that night so it was rescheduled to April, which was then also cancelled and re-re-scheduled for 19 July. Back in January I tried to book my ticket, intending to sit with two of my friends ... but the venue was all-but sold out! There was one seat right at the back and then one more still available mid-centre. The poetry gods must have been smiling on me that day because the mid-centre seat was row L seat 4, and my friends’ tickets were L2 and L3! If I believe in anything, it is karma ... be nice and nice things happen to you :)

JCC and Guest 1. Clare Ferguson Walker

It was no surprise that both support artists were high-calibre performance poets ... that word sends shivers down my spine, by which I mean the word calibre ... I remember trying the alcohol-free lager Kaliber (brewed by Guinness) as a teenager and I thought it tasted awful ... I've had tastier pints of water!! But there was nothing unleaded about either support act tonight :)

Clare is a poet and sculptor from Carmarthen. I'll get onto her performance in a moment, but am seriously impressed that she sculpted a John Cooper Clarke that was on sale for £150 along with her books ... I was seriously tempted to buy it!

I should take lessons from Clare about how to introduce a poem. Before the first launch event for my pamphlet I was advised that, with a 20 minute set, I should read half a dozen poems. Considering that few of my poems take more than a minute to perform, I'd either have to read r-e-a-l-l-y slooooooowly, or invent works of fiction to introduce them! Clare has fantastic stories that lead into her poems, the most memorable one involving a guy with a weird name ... let me think ... oh yes, it was a giles! You can listen to that poem (without the introduction), Drugs on YouTube.

JCC and Guest 2. Toria Garbutt

Having caught up with an old school friend from my Harrogate days in a phone call earlier, it was a joy, for the second time this week, to listen to a Yorkshire accent again! Toria Garbutt is a poet from Knottingley, a town in the Wakefield district of South Yorkshire.

During the three Sieges of Pontefract Castle, Oliver Cromwell took residence in the town of Knottingley, believed to be in Wildbore House. The house was later demolished when its land was mined as a quarry for the limestone underneath.
(from Wiki)

This is Toria’s poem, Nowt Matters Now on YouTube. I love the word nowt and its associated double negative, “I ain't up to nowt!” which I used frequently in my school days.

The Legendary John Cooper Clarke

I first saw John Cooper Clarke (JCC) perform in Milton Keynes, supporting the band, The Fall, with their equally legendary frontman, Mark E. Smith in 2004. The lady I attended that gig with would later become the editor of an Indie music magazine, Splinter, we co-founded in Bristol in 2005.

John Cooper Clarke and Mark E. Smith are having a drinking session. Who collapses first — JCC, MES or the table?
(a joke from Splinter Magazine’s editor, Fliss Collier)

Unsurprisingly JCC has produced a lot of new work since 2004 but I was overjoyed to hear two of my old favourites, Beasley Street and Chickentown.

Bio: Official account of poet Dr. John Cooper Clarke, updated by JCC's management & not John (he doesn’t even have a mobile phone for Pete’s sake).
(JCC Twitter bio)

Most surprisingly of all was the news that Beasley Street has been gentrified resulting in a new poem, Beasley Boulevard! I'm off now to search RightMove for a writer’s garret or retirement flats on Beasley Blvd ;)

Published inPoetry


  1. It sounds like a wonderful couple of evenings.

  2. Giles Giles

    thanks for reading and leaving the comment, Tori. It was indeed a lot of fun 🙂 xx

  3. Antoinette Rock Antoinette Rock

    Thank you for research on the name ‘Writer’.

  4. It sounds like your social life is busy and all too much fun! So, filled with good things, you are soon off to college again. I look forward to all the wonderful things you’re going to write as you develop and grow even more. Congratulations on not bonking the microphone!

  5. Giles Giles

    thanks, Susan. It’s easy to forget the presence of the microphone when you can’t see it! I can hear me bonk the one in my recording of my set from the Abergavenny Writing Festival back in April! I move into my university flat in precisely 2 months so am very excited about what written fruits will come from that 🙂 xx

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