Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: To Be Confirmed at Three Minute Theatre, Monday 6th August 2012

TBC @ 3MT. It could be a code, it could be a meme. It could be a cypher spoken using the phonetic alphabet across a long-wave radio frequency. What it actually stands for is a group and a venue at a specific time and a specific place. How else do cultures culture?

To Be Confirmed is a poetry project that is in its infancy but forms part of a tapestry of Manchester that is much older; diverse people coming together. It attracts a rich multiplicity of persons applying poetry, first-and-foremost to their lives and then in performance on the monthly night. A Monday. But not your typical Monday.

3 Minute Theatre is a relatively new venue to the city of Manchester. It occupies a place on the ground floor of Afflecks Palace - which, as we know, is seminal to Manchester culture as a site for the alternative consumer and poignantly was recently threatened with foreclosure.

A bright neon sign leads you through from the entrance on Oldham Street to a quaint room filled with staggered rows of seats that acquires a cosy yet vibrant atmosphere as the place fills up with warm bodies and hot air.
Here are some of the voices of the TBC professionale coterie:

Daniel Clayton: Existential.
“I like to think a lot. Sometimes I over-think things. I like to encourage other people to think about things that are interesting or things that are not necessarily conventional; philosophical questions like why do we exist?”
Dan performs a surreal spoken word piece about a fruit bowl that personified fruit - making them kill each other and getting drunk, etc. - and another piece that brings us to question the senses in their interpretations of the world:
“Everything we see is light, and what we hear is just vibrations, so how do we know that you're not just a brain in a vat?”

Anna Percy: Rhymes in the middle.
“Some friends of mine, well, John G. Hall, the poetry guy in Manchester, started up a thing called the Arran Poetry Adventure. Basically, I started going three years ago, but it's been going a bit longer than that. What we do is, because writing retreats are really expensive, we have six hundred pounds and we hire out some houses and all you do is pay for accommodation and travel and then you can join in the workshops or go off and adventure around the island.” “We run workshops but it's relaxed; like a holiday with a bit of writing thrown in. They've been going since 2009.”
Anna classes her writing as confessional. As with time and writing about life, the same as with Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, who mostly wrote about what was going on with their lives at the time, Anna believes that:
“…writing saves lives.”
“Similarly to Anne Sexton - she wrote 'cause she was a bit mad - I suppose my stuff is confessional but as I've gone on I've kind of got more into doing experimental stuff like found poems. It basically just means that you nick the text from somewhere else.”

Above: The To Be Confirmed compere.

Ren Coulson: Extreme tactility?
“I write a lot about nesting and homes and cocooning yourself. I like limbs and wool!”
Ren says writing verse like this creates a visceral image, deep inward feelings, rather than intellectual garblings, aroused by things like looking at skin.
“I like exploring texture and elbows and feet, being wrapped in wool.”
Wool, visceral wool. Can wool really be visceral? Ren says:
“If you have a feeling that's based on raw and non-intellectual roots towards an inanimate object then, yes.”
Can poetry be aspirational?
“My ultimate dream is to have a narrowboat and to create that space, that tiny space, woodsmoke and the way it clings to clothes,” she says.

Fat Roland: Macabre scenery involving animals.

Roland doesn't consider himself a poet; he admits that he is a short story writer above all.

Roland goes to the printers and gets paraphernalia done up previous to shows. For the latest TBC, Roland went to the printers and got twenty Peppa Pig cards made, which he used as props for his latest thought experiment, taking participants through macabre scene which involved a narrative surrounding animals.
“The story comes first and the props come later,” he says.
Roland tells us that laughter works as a defence mechanism, if, sometimes, Roland takes us to dark places, people laugh because they have to.
“Dark is funny,” says Roland. “Peppa Pig is very light and colourful and fluffy and really nice, so I thought I'll have her having a major LSD psychosis, murdering Porky Pig and having sex with Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh. Why not?”

David Loy: Docker (apparently the same thing as a scouser); quixotic or realistic?
“What reflects through my poetry is how I see the world and things I live through,” especially, he says, “how information lives through me. That's everything that comes out of my poetry.”
What David has to say about Facebook is appealing: a virtual fax roll upon which each of us is writing our own story, each successive status contributing to that. But just because you're making a statement through Facebook doesn't make everybody else's statement any less of a status, from the quixotic to the realistic:
“Each to their own, kinda thing,” he says. “Some people might want to write something poetic, or provide a motivational quote, or a Bible verse, and some people just want to write, like, 'I'm going to the shop for a pint of milk'.”
Soliloquies are often followed by a silence of recognition and on Facebook this translates to them being 'liked' via the Like button more so than they receive comment upon. Does this tell us anything about their interpretation?
“I'll only write things that people can relate to,” says David, “I won't try and baffle people.”

TBC also features Manchester-based poets Des-Lexic & Alvin Sawdust as well as Karen Little who have spread their prosaic wings further abroad at other venues across the city. It's an exclusive group but an inclusive scene for anyone interested in poetry to a unique night out at one of Manchester's hidden gems of a venue.

Words & photo #3: Elijah James
Photos #1 & #2: courtesy of 3MT
Photo #4: courtesy of Fat Roland & FlashTagMcr

Friday, 10 August 2012

Bad Language literature event: Deadline for submissions

Today is the final day for submissions to be in with a chance of performing at the Bad Language literature event scheduled to take place at Manchester Museum on 22 August.

Manchester literature and poetry group Bad Language have organised the opportunity for writers to secure a five minute slot on the same bill as Helen Mort and Jenn Ashworth, who are both spending the month of August developing new writing based on the museum’s exhibits.

Entrants may submit a new piece written specifically for the occasion or an existing work, but will be judged on suitability for the event with the Manchester Museum venue in mind.

The headlining pair of Mort and Ashworth, both previous prize-winners in their field, will perform these pieces to an audience in The Living World gallery. In 2010, Mort became the youngest ever poet in residency at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, having previously earned the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. Ashworth’s debut novel, ‘A Kind Of Intimacy’, was published in 2009 and the following year gained the Betty Trask Award. She has also been featured as one of BBC Culture Show’s Best 12 Novelists.

Words: Ian Pennington
Poster: Bad Language

The Bad Language event will take place at Manchester Museum on Wednesday 22 August. Deadline for submissions to appear on the line-up is today, 10 August. Email badlanguagemcr@gmail.com to enter. Ticket information for the event can be found here.