Some good news! A new poetry night in Leeds, hosted at the Seven Arts Centre in Chapel Allerton, compered by Matt Abbott and put together by the Nymphs and Thugs spoken word record label. I’m finding that there is less poetry in Leeds that I assumed there would be, given that the city has a young, articulate population and a strong cultural and multicultural vibe. When I heard about Soapbox, therefore, it was an absolute no brainer that I was going to go, and I was lucky enough to have found a fellow poet to go along with, which was really nice 🙂
Seven isn’t the largest space for performance, but it was just the right space for the audience. It was comfortably full, pretty much ten minutes before starting time. The evening started with half a dozen short open mic pieces, that gave us hair sculpting, knitwear and birth control – these were good openers, varied and well received. The reception, actually, was friendly enough to make this a good opportunity for someone to give performance a proper go in front of a decent crowd. I could be tempted 🙂
After a short break, we had the first of the two featured poets for the evening, Toria Garbutt. This was mining town decay, drugs, Ponte Carlo & Cas-vegas rivalry, gritty northern poetry from an engaging, confident performer. Her words filled the room, and engaged the crowd despite the sometimes difficult subject matter. Not every audience will embrace poems about drug dealers, for example, but Toria’s style and sense of humour made this work.
The second of the two principal poets was Maria Ferguson. She’s from Romford, but that didn’t bother the crowd who offered to adopt her as Yorkshire. It was that kind of night. There were moments during her set when you could hear a pin drop, particularly during the first half, and the two poems of grief that she did. Taking the action of running a tap and building a statement about bereavement was particularly acute. I wasn’t as convinced with the character piece about Essex Girls, but there were other highlights. Body is good, for example, about body image and eating disorders and I liked the London Eye conversation poem too. Partly because the London Eye terrified me when I went on it! This was Button Poetry made British and moved to be less painfully self obsessed, in my opinion. Button with a dash of self depreciation and self awareness. That’s a good thing, for me.
So we had a decent open mic, and two good main performances. The venue is perfect for the event and so my only question is – why are we waiting till May for the next one 🙂
Event details will be on here.
Toria Garbutt is here.
And Maria Ferguson’s book is here.