Sage and Time’s First Birthday @ The Charterhouse Bar 27/07/11

-Reviewed by James Webster and Dana Bubulj

I haven’t exactly been reticent on my love of Sage and Time. It’s a fantastic night run by Anna Le and the consistently jaw-dropping Dirty Hands collective.

And it was a charming celebration. Poets were welcomed individually, always with a smile and often with a hug, reminding me what makes S&T such a nurturing environment. Included in the ticket price was a glass of wine and a slice of cake, so we could all toast S&T’s first year in style, and the evening featured a smorgasboard of poetic talent with 29 poets performing in total. It was an extravaganza of poetry; a night filled with verse, love and the supportive atmosphere that makes Sage and Time so special.

The Host

  • Kat Francois was, um, wow. She brought this brazen energy and engaging off-the-cuff comedy to the evening. Some of her quips could’ve been horrendous if done by someone with less charisma, but, boy, does she make it work.
  • And her poem where she asserted ‘I’m a poetry whore’ was an insightful take on performing, with great rhythm to her sing-song delivery. She summed up how the microphone is a portal into you, but also a shield between you and the audience; how performing makes you the centre of attention, but also so nakedly vulnerable. In her capable voice, simply repetitions became repeated gasps leading up to the final ‘just so I can breath.’ Like many poets, she dedicated her poem to Anna Le. ‘Cos Anna’s lovely.

Odes to Sage and Time

A goodly number of poets performed pieces inspired by S&T itself. With excellent result.

  • Will Stopha: A former host of S&T, his beautiful phrasing was a loving and clever look back, referencing so many of the poets who helped make S&T the success it is. He’s giving up hosting duties for now and it was a touching goodbye.
  • Anna Le: Anna’s poem ‘Beautiful People’ again referenced a lot of the S&T regulars, and it summed itself up sumptuously. Anna, like the people she referenced, made ‘verbs do things verbs don’t usually do’. I was tempted to just ask her for a copy of the poem and post that instead of this review.
  • Richard Marsh: His repeated rhyme on Anna Le’s name was an amazing embrace of a poem for Anna, the S&T poets and poetry itself. Joy.

Assorted Poets

  • Mr G’s poem on the Olympics, on Jesse Owen ‘the Running Man’ was flowing, strong, and used the Olympics as an effective metaphor for political unrest.
  • The Wizard of Skill’s my radio was typical of his style. Loudly and confidently performed, lots of repetition, and I’m sure there’s a point hidden there somewhere.
  • James Webster’s ‘That’s Why the Lady is a Cunt’ was delivered with passion and earnestness, but his delivery was stilted and would’ve been better if he’d learnt the poem.
  • Kai Kamikaze’s ‘Heroin Diaries’ was very evocative of his time ‘living on bastard street’, but I feel there could’ve been more to it.
  • Did I mention that I love Donall Dempsey and Janice Windle? Because I do. They’re fast building a reputation as the first couple ofLondonpoetry. And their combined set really showed off their interplaying verse and personalities. From Donall’s ‘Kiss Kiss and Cuddles Man’ (as all the good superheroes are taken) to Janice’s joyously near-explicit poem on the sex you shouldn’t have above the age of 40, they are riotously lovable.
  • Vanessa’s emotive ‘lunchtime playground romance’ was a thought-provoking poem on childhood serenity and bullying; it had a great flow and fiery delivery.
  • Richard Marsh’s second poem (see above) made one thing clear: he likes fools. It was an empowering and charmingly clever rallying call for the fools of this world. ‘Rejoice, you mucky-faced adventurers’ indeed.
  • JazzMan John is part of the S&T fixtures. His ‘July Poem’ was spat out with driving momentum, an ode to anyone in need of an ode. Frankly I was disappointed that we didn’t all run out and commit immediate acts of civil disobedience.
  • Jethro’s piece about an audition from the POV of a pretentious director deftly combined a plethora of meaningless theatrical jargon, but didn’t quite come alive for me.
  • Peter Hayhoe was one of many to spank, sorry, thank Anna Le for putting S&T together. ‘Pinch’ was a poem for fighting for your place and finding it. It did make me want to ‘grab [my] pen and paper and go to war’.
  • Mark Thompson’s ‘Dance for Dancing’s Sake’ was at once both beautifully awkward and at one with its own rhythm. He hosts Bang Said the Gun, by the way.
  • Katy Bonna’s ‘Organs’ was a highlight, on the idea of two peoples’ hearts and minds sneaking off together. Its irregular beat beats in compliment to the theme, backed up by some choice words.
  • Lionheart was odd. Some truly original imagery was coupled with hyperbolic bitterness and it seemed his poem could be summed up as ‘other guys don’t respect you, but I respect you, so why aren’t you sleeping with me?’ Also see: Nice Guy TM.
  • Anna Le claimed not to be very good with words. She lied. She performed “I am Many Rivers’, the first poem I ever heard her perform and the reason I came to Sage & Time in the first place. I loved it then and I love it now. Her language, her delivery, it’s delectable, personal and personable. You can feel the rivers of culture and history that she speaks of flowing through her voice.
  • Lisa Handy managed to fake an orgasm onstage and have it not be embarrassing. Her poem was sexual and explicit, without being sleazy, her words were loaded, dripping with tension, and felt like she was caressing you with poetry (and I don’t think I know her well enough to be comfortable with that).
  • While Amy Acre was performing, a bottle of champagne spontaneously erupted. I’m not even exaggerating, that happened. Her first poem where she affirmed ‘this, poetry, this is mine’ was a poem ingrained in the bone, a shout of joy for having a voice. I’m surprised all the champagne didn’t pop.
  • Will Stopha was armed only with his own beat-boxing and a ‘key-chordian’ and performed some layered poetry/music/audience interaction hybrid, recording the audience and playing them back as his own chorus. Amazing rhythm, wording and content; he made me believe London is indeed a city that’s ‘got more ideas than pigeons’. Top drawer.

In the end

I wish I could fit all the poets into this review. Sadly, I can’t, so what you’ve read is a brief summary of the highlights of S&T’s first birthday. It was a magically inclusive night. While I can’t say all of the poets wowed me, most of them did.

And that’s all I really hope for. Plus a little bit more.

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