Yesterday we launched Poetry in Commotion. This event, a collaborative effort from Poetry to Succeed and the Foundation for Essex Arts, saw a plethora of poetic talent descend on Basildon's Towngate theatre to share their words. In an age of sound bites, snapchats and cat videos, to get a group of people, mid week, to sit, listen, share and discuss poetry is something special. It speaks volumes about the power of words and the importance many of us still hold to that deeply rooted tradition of sharing knowledge and understanding with ones voice. Also we had free doughnuts. That probably helped.
We were treated to the beautiful words of Liz Grant, of the Foundation for Essex Arts. In a particularly entertaining and provocative piece she discussed technology and perceived problems associated with rapid modernisation as well as Prince Charles' apparent fear that nanobots will eventually reduce us all to grey goo! Mike Roberts, veteran of Southends "Dangerous Poetry" scene, gave a political twist to well known nursery rhymes. He also had us in stitches with a hilarious take on other subject matter of a slightly more...personal nature. Gill West was, as always, extremely entertaining. She injects an energy and passion into her character driven poetry that is utterly captivating. Southends own, Adrian Green shared his work. This guy is a king of imagery. Listening to his words is like watching an oil painting being produced in front of your eyes. Andy Graves also performed, sharing deeply personal work that pulled absolutely no punches. If poetry can't handle heavy subjects and the odd feeling or two, what can?
As far as an active art scene goes, Basildon new town has been the poor relation when compared to Southend and Thurrock for some time. Despite the best efforts of a small hardcore of local artists, getting new projects and scenes off the ground has always seemed like somewhat of an uphill struggle. We are constantly plagued by the old myth (turned self fulfilling prophecy) that people around here aren't interested in culture. Growing up in Basildon, as a kid interested in art, there was virtually nothing. As an adult beginning my career as a poet, I had to look towards London and elsewhere to make a name for myself. As it stands I have bored audiences at probably well over 100 shows, yet I can count the times I've performed in my hometown on one hand. I spent a lot of time moaning about this. I suppose though, it's up to us artists to create the scene we want to be a part of. I'd like to think that myself, a group of poets, and a fantastic audience took the first steps towards that goal tonight.
If you are interested in attending the next Poetry in Commotion, performing at one of our nights or would like more information about our work and the artists we work with, let us know! - J