25th June, 2018
BRENDAN CLEARY AT END OF ELEVENTH YEAR OF WRITE ANGLE POETRY & MUSIC
One hundred and forty eight gigs – the tally this month....starting in July 2007 when Leah brought in fourteen poets for an event in what was then Django's. It was an attempt to help the bistro, where a crowded out room (over 70 people – and others turned away) surprised everyone, showing there was a demand for poetry in Petersfield. Brendan Cleary was a fitting person to round off the eleventh year, this June, attracting a large and enthusiastic audience.
Brendan is a consummate word-smith, creating pictures that draw in his audience. In Waking In Czechoslovakia, he says “ I woke up this morning, I was in Czechoslovakia, speaking fluent Czech, with a Czech wife and three Czech children.... reading Kafka in the original”; you are there. His Letters to Esmée are so realistic, you believe she exists.
Another old favourite was Planet Steve. Brendan doesn't know anyone called Steve. He goes through all the Steve's he doesn't know - “No-one ever asks “Where are you and Steve off to at the weekend? Or “Steve never pops by for a smoke in the afternoon”, ending with “Can anyone out there lend me a telescope to look for Planet Steve?” So totally believable that you start thinking, 'Does he really know no-one called Steve?'
In Kylie Be Mine, he recounts his fascination with Kylie Minogue - “It's profoundly tragic you'll never cuddle up to me.”
Brendan was once a stand-up comic and everything about his humorous poems reflects that. His timing, facial expressions and body-language impeccably express humour. Yet he can be serious too. His series of poems after his brother's death ends with The Hospital That Night -”delirium & snores breaking the quiet as every so often there's a screech of another siren drawing closer.” He works as a DJ and ended his set with It's Our Dance, a highly evocative poem of the atmosphere in the pub - “I play Nina Simone's 'My baby just cares for me' ….you spring out from the bar & I leave the mixing desk & we dance with our hangovers..” Brendan is a ‘natural’ poet and his ‘drunken’ Northern Irish accent makes his performances memorable.
At the open mic, Colin Eveleigh led off with You Alright? How Are You? How's it Going? accurately describing the discontinuity that exists in everyday conversations - “You mean my life in general? How long have you got? Do you care?” Richard Hawtree gave us Oh Poem!, The Night I Spoke Irish in Surrey and Why Do You Wake the Sleeping Tear – the last of which was based on a fragment from the ancient Greek poet, Callimachus, explaining that he tries hard not to overload his poems with classical allusions! - “Aeneas did things we schoolboys could not.”
Chris Sparkes recalled how he had been there the first time Brendan was at Write Angle, writing in his book “This is the page when I decided that Cleary was much better than Heaney!” Chris told of his favourite novel, 1984, and how he saw it as prophesying the current world situation, and gave us Switching Off the Television After 1984, followed by Cornwall, a tribute to the musician, Jim Hughes - “We thought we were going to change the world.” Leah read It's Time We Met - “Now I look at my selves merged into one and say 'It’s time we met'” Then Possimist - “(optimist/pessimist). They can't make a decision.” Finally Masochist - “...how I hate me cos c'mon, what have I done lately?” Your reviewer provided Twelve Days, questioning whether cats only wanted food and warmth - “They gathered round as if to say 'Where did you go, why did you stay away from us, so long away'”. Then Make Lunch, Not War - “What if...instead of fighting tooth and claw, all decide to make lunch, not war.”
There were three newcomers. Mike Spilberg read Violation and, then, I've News For You – about finding someone who's written something you thought of - “There's someone out there using your ideas.” Graham Brown read Pointless, about a town called Pointless - “Later the poppy red sun will set....over the pointless war memorial to pointless wars.” Then Tarzan, who “no longer swings from creeper....... Health & Safety say too dangerous, it's like jungle out there!” Chris Taylor, clear voiced, did not really need the microphone; gave us two stirring poems.
Jezz rounded the evening off with emotional renderings of two new cover songs, Hootie and the Blowfish's, Let Her Cry and Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees. He got lots of applause – and deserved it!
The raffle sponsor was Chichester's India Gate – the prize, a dinner for two, won by one of Write Angle's regulars – it pays to come to every gig!