Nottingham Poetry Festival closed on Sunday, after a total of 70 acts graced different stages, libraries, markets and other locations across the county, entertaining, engaging and inspiring a huge variety of crowds that perhaps wouldn’t normally go to a poetry event. I had a flipping fantastic time… as is the tradition with these things, here are my (non food-based) takeaways for the fledgling poet, from the Festival :
1 The whole bloody lot
I bloody love Nottingham. Big thanks to Tommy Farmyard and Henry Normal and all the other organisers, performers, and poetry fans of all stripes, for making this what it is.
As in actual content, from a workshop run by the effervescent Leanne Moden, who seemed to be on 24/7 poeting duty! (Added bonus – spending time with lovely fellow poets who inspire me, such as cosmicpoetry – I was a fan of her blog before I met her – check it out!)
3 Gimme the mic!
I really want to perform more… I loved the Comedy Extravaganza hosted by Willis the Poet, and spoke to him immediately afterwards (boring types can call it networking) about joining his comedy circus. I’ve also applied to perform at some other festivals… wish me luck!
4 Be more open…
Seeing how Hollie McNish (and Cleo Asabre-Holt – what a rising star!) shared themselves, no barriers, taking risks… Inspiring
The sheer range of poetic styles, and what can be done with performance poetry…if there were four of me, I’d have gone to four different events on Weds, for example, and had a blast at each. If you haven’t seen the clip of Stephen Thomas performing his synth-pop set closer yet, do (here)! He has raised the bar for all who follow.
I have always been acutely aware of being the outsider… Hey, that’s why we start writing poetry, right? But going to events, meeting people, chatting, being friendly, making friends… Sure, there are some pre-formed friendship groups, but I’m relatively new to this… And if shy old me can go solo to numerous events and KNOW that there will be someone friendly I’ve at least spoken to before, then you can too! (Plus, Henry Normal speaks to literally everyone… He personally greets everyone on arrival, helping to set a tone of everyone being made to feel welcome – truly inclusive…)
7 Confidence boost
I performed at three events – the Crosswords Sue Ryder evening (I’ve posted a couple of videos of me performing that night, here and here); at one of the library hours; and at the NPS Poetry Slam. Poetry crowds are so warm, supportive and generous – you get the feeling that everyone really wants you to succeed. For someone who lacks confidence in public speaking, this is an amazing lift. And to top it off, I finished third in my first ever poetry slam!
8 Keep at it
Roger McGough closed the festival with an hilarious, engaging set… But what impressed me most was the sheer number of – incredible – new poems he shared. For someone with a fifty-plus year back catalogue of amazing work, Roger could easily have just played the “greatest hits”. He didn’t, and clearly still has the passion for poetry. A true inspiration.
So…see you next year?