Saturday, 1 August 2009

Pees, Pies and Poetry

Last night the Makar Press Poets (that would be Sheila, Rowena and moi) were live in Kilmaurs. Doesn’t quite have the ring of Edinburgh, Stanza or Wigtown, but you would be mistaken if you thought that was A Bad Thing, because the good people of Kilmaurs rock.

We had an audience of over 30 people and such was the reception we received that we left wondering – how come we’re not famous? Basically, cos we don’t come with a bass beat, we’re not “Hello” worthy and none of us have inflated our tits. Let’s face it, poetry just isn’t sexy. Correction, it isn’t widely perceived as sexy, because it can be that and more. Think of any adjective that relates to the human condition and poetry can take you there. The trouble is that most folks just don’t want to put in the effort.All it takes is a little more flexibility of thought. How difficult can that be?

Anyhow...get off your soapbox, fella. The reading was part of a week long annual fete. The local community work hard at keeping a community feel to the town and each summer they organise a series of events to bring the local people together to do things like treasure hunts, 5 km runs and a pub quiz. Oh and a certain poetry reading with yours’ truly billed as Pies, Pees n’ Poetry. Hats off to the organisers. They do a cracking job.

While speaking to one of the organisers, she explained that the previous evening they were trying to drum up some more attendees during the quiz. They were largely met with blank stares and comments like, sorry, poetry isn’t my cuppa tea. An elderly lady beside her then piped up to explain what had brought her along. The organiser had explained to her that it wasn’t like the poetry she had learned it school - it was fun, about real life and we used the occasional swear word. The old lady grinned and said that was what did it for her.

So during the reading, just for her, I threw in a few fucks. Bless.

The M.O. of the M.P.P. is to hand everyone a sheet full of the topics of our poems. Then they shout out a topic that they fancy. It means we don’t choose the poems – our audience does. And this means that no two readings are exactly the same. It also means we get audience participation and an energy flow that goes back and forward between poets and attendees. Know what? It only works.

Modesty prevents me from detailing the feedback we received from people at the end of the night. Modesty and a memory that has all the recall powers and storage capacity of a cigarette. However, one guy did say that it was the best night he’d had in ages that didn’t involve women or booze. Can’t say fairer than that.

What was extra cool about the evening was that a good few of the people in the hall had been there the year before and made it feel like we were reading to a bunch of friends who had brought their pals along. (Apart from a couple at the back: she looked like she was struggling to remember what colour her underwear was and why it pinched so much - and he looked like somebody has just pissed in his pint.)

And what was extra, extra cool was that before the night was over, we’d been invited back to do it all again for 2010. Sing along with me...go Makars, go Makars, go Makars.


  1. Sounds like it was a very popular event and an honour to be invited back yet again. Congratulations! All we in Canada have to look forward to in 2010 is the Olympics.

  2. Having had the pleasure of attending a previous gig by this trio, I can vouch for the fact that poetry the way they perform it really is sexy. It's also funny, touching, wry, deep and all sorts of other adjectives. It really is a shame that, perhaps because of the earnestness of some writers of poetry, the perception is still that it's an esoteric medium. It can be and it often is, but that doesn't stop it also being moving and exhilarating and - oh shit, I don't know any more adjectives. But if the Makars are ever performing near you, go and enjoy them.
    (Did I get that right, Michael? And do I still get the same fee?)

  3. Careann, I am so jealous.

    Bill - I coulnd't have put it better myself. As for the fee, do you want the day-glo this time or the ribbed?

  4. I'm definitely in the minority, then, because that was one of the words I'd use to describe poetry. And you are entirely too modest, though it adds to the humor of the blog. The little old lady was precious!

    I remember one of the most awesome performances I ever did was for a crowd of eight on the pews of a LITTTTTLE church in Mississippi, maybe 4 four foot pews. There was such a connection. They tuned in completely to the songs and voice, tears streaming or clapping along. I'll never forget it. It's a mag-i-cal moment.

    So glad for your evening of magic.