A monthly spoken word night in London – a place for stuck creatives and seasoned professionals to get on stage and show their poetic skills in front of a noisy, energetic & supportive audience.
Here at Rhymes HQ we’re still buzzing from last week’s Rhymes Big Massive Christmas Special. If you were there, we hope you had a blast (and took part in both the Limerick Challenge and the “All I want for Christmas” stage invasion). If you weren’t, (and that’s possible, because it was a TOTAL SELL OUT), let us give you the rundown on what you missed.
Thomas our compere kicked off the night with us all singing that great classic poem ‘A Fairytale of New York’, accompanied by Open Mic Poet Sam Wong on ukelele. Thomas judged the best jumper from a stage shortlist of three. I have to say I thought my own ‘Santa Paws’ pug jumper was pretty awesome, but…fair’s fair.
I joined the other featured performers Ellie, Stevie, Kim, Becky, Dan and Geoff in tackling this month’s theme of food. The winner of the last Rhymes Open Mic, Tom Gill, performed a cracking set accompanied by his guitarist and gave Morrissey a run for his money with his singing and his portrayal of modern love. Thom Hoffman won the Limerick Challenge with his “Grinch with chainsaw hands” and Sam Wong claimed the Orange Crussh Open Mic Crown for the second time.
The night didn’t finish with the poetry -oh ho no! The minute the poets left the stage, the merry revelling crowd stormed it and showcased their own creativity by busting ALL THE MOVES to Mariah.
I know I’m biased and I’ll tell you this is the best and most fun night out ever, but don’t just take my word for it – see for yourself at the first Rhymes of 2015, on Thursday 5th February.
Tickets are available now at: https://v1.bookwhen.com/rhymeswithorange
So, Thursday 5th February. Put it in your diary now in pen. Or, since it’s almost 2015, in your mobile telephone. Write it everywhere and see you there, oranginos and oranginas.
Merry Christmas and thanks for your support in 2014,
Rach and The Rhymes Crew x
Ellie here. So some of us went away on a long weekend for a Rhymes with Orange writing retreat a few days ago. There were 11 of us, some seasoned Rhymes performers, some awesome long term supporters and even a couple of relative newbies. Basically an extremely talented group of some of the loveliest people you will ever meet. It was indescribable amounts of fun.
When you tell people you are going on a poetry retreat they look at you in an odd way like they think you are being pretentious and are about to start quoting things they have never heard of. Thomas describes it to people as a “creative retreat” which to my mind is not better. Rachel M says “we’re going on a retreat! Not a religious one.” When we were shopping for food in Morrison’s on the way there she told this to everyone we saw. If you, like the people of the Maldon Morrison’s, are wondering what the hell happens on a RwO-non-religious-creative-poetry-retreat, here is a blog post to give you an insight into what happened over the weekend. Every word is true. The theme for the retreat was ‘savages’. These brilliant photos were taken by Thom Hoffman and Rachel Malham.
On Friday night we all arrived on Northey Island. It’s an island in Essex with a population of 2 which is cut off at high tide. Some of us got there early to bring the food and decorate the place like a pirate bar. Those who arrived after dark had an altercation with a bald taxi driver with an eye on the back of his head who was too nesh to cross the causeway.
When everyone arrived they went to find their rooms and got their (vague) weekend schedule and murder mystery info and Rhymes Retreat Pencil. We dressed up as pirates, Thom attached a woolly hat to his face. Jon made epaulettes out of tin foil. I had a beard. Aine had no thumbs.
Then we had dinner and then Thomas got murdered. Possibly by Stevie because he was eating spaghetti with his pirate hook and it was going all over everyone. We drew round him with chalk and then everyone got drunk and mostly failed to work out who was the murderer but came up with some excellent pirate puns.
It is good to play a big daft game at the start of the retreat, everyone was great friends by the end of it and not just because we had drunk most of the booze.
Then we wrote our first poems, using pictures of animals and ourselves that we had brought. We swapped them. I wrote a poem about a witch and an aye-aye.
If anyone tried to apologise for their work at any point over the weekend, Stevie made them drink horrible Aldi Limoncino which tastes of toilet duck. #apolocino.
They we all drew pictures of animals for a couple of hours. I went to bed at this point but Aine, Thom and Thomas stayed awake and decided to try to swim in the pond. Swimming in a pond at 4.30am in November is not conducive to a productive writing retreat. They failed.
On Saturday we all got up for breakfast and by 10am we were writing again, this time about our first impressions of the island. So many of these poems were amazing and a couple of the writers worked on them for the cabaret in the evening, making them even more amazing.
Then we had a delicious lunch. Everyone pitched in with cooking and washing up over the weekend but special mention to Stevie who calculated the food and planned menus to feed everyone all weekend which is WITCHCRAFT.
In the afternoon everyone was put into groups of various sizes and we all prepared performances for the evening cabaret, which is secretly my favourite bit of the retreat. Also, Kim taught Sam and Thom to play the cups. In the evening we set the stage, and performed the best cabaret in the whole world, deciding the order by picking pastel pieces of paper from the pitcher of performance. I’m sorry I can’t remember all the performances exactly but they included:
- A sea shanty about cannibalism from Sam Wong
- A poem about the man who leaves those pictures of women in phone boxes from Jon Hoggard
- A ‘bitchy bake off’ performed in the kitchen by Kim Pryor and Rachel Malham
- A performance art piece in which Sam Wong, Thomas Muirhead, Stevie Tylor and Rachel Newton dressed up as the Russian National Dance company and hit kittens with hammers.
- A Rhyming play skit about MPs and spin doctors from Aine Murphy and I
- An immersive and interactive Christmas Dinner experience orchestrated by Thom Hoffman, Jon Hoggard and Georgia Gregory.
- Loads more hilarious and amazing and jaw-droppingly excellent poems.
After the cabaret we played games late into the night.
On Sunday morning we all picked a place on the island out of the hat, wrote a poem about it and then went on a walk and heard the poems in the different areas of the island.
I cocked this up a bit and made Sam write a poem about cows, even though there are no cows on the island in winter. Oops. Blimey, there were some amazing poems though. Rachel Newton made us cry.
Thom put his, Shipwreck, on his website so you can see and hear it! Check it out.
At 12 midday Thom died because he was holding the Black Spot.
Then we had a massive roast dinner and COULDN’T MOVE. Some of us had to leave, which was sad. The rest of us sat about in a comatose state in front of the hot fire and napped. I read some books about Northey Island and read everyone a Just So story by the fire. Jon read all of The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe and drew a sketch of the island. Kim and Thomas played a game about the plague or something. We tried to eat all the rest of the food but it was impossible. It felt like Christmas day. We played bananagrams and the accent game. Rachel M and Sam are good at accents. I am rubbish. Thomas did epic amounts of washing up. We went to bed and in the morning we went home.
Returning to the grey realities of London and work, we were cheered when we looked on the internet and saw that Christmas Rhymes with Orange on Thursday is SOLD OUT. Fully refreshed and buzzing with creativity, we can’t wait to enjoy it with you all.
It doesn’t feel like two years. Two years since we decided, as a dare, to go to an open mic night and all get up and do a poem, once. It felt terrifying. We were a group of colleagues and friends who all wrote together once a week and once we set ourselves this goal, there was no backing out. Together, we spurred each other on. We wrote for it, we got nervous. We invited friends to come. The one thing we hadn’t planned for was that not a single one of us would get on the open mic list, as it was already full. We were all dressed up with nowhere to go…but the back row. Someone (I think this was my brother, but I’d already had quite a few glasses of wine by this point) said “There’s five of you – why don’t you put on your own night?” and less than a month later – on Wednesday 13 June 2012 – Rhymes was born, in a sweaty room above a pub in King’s Cross.
Since then, we’ve grown so much. There are more of us. We’re more confident performers. As we write new material to a new theme every time, we’re all looking back at quite a pile of poems since we began. We’ve brought our mates along, and they’ve brought their mates. And they’ve all come back.
We celebrated our second birthday on 19th June, in Shoreditch this time, and we pulled a big crowd despite it being a) a summer’s evening and b) the night of an England World Cup game. Our theme was Dirt, and Kim opened her set with the very same poem she opened Rhymes with two years ago, about needing a wee at school. Ellie terrified us with her creepy torch-lit poem of The Grimlig Goblin. (We won’t be forgetting that in a hurry – when I went to the loo afterwards there were two girls hiding in there, terrified, who I had to coax out with the promise of a chocolate orange if only they took part in our limerick challenge. I hope they’ve recovered since.)
There are many immortal lines featuring Hannibal Lecter but Stevie added a new one with her lusty take on dirt. Thomas worked his brilliant compering magic and even got his Dad to do a limerick. Our Open Mic winner was Thom Hoffman, who walked away with the coveted Chocolate Orange. As usual the Orange Crush Open Mic was a hotbed of talent – we’ll never think of Adrian Chiles in the same way EVER AGAIN following Rhymes regular Jon Hoggard’s poem.
I love that all this is still going after two years. That we dared ourselves to do this, that one time, and we dared to keep it going, not wanting to stop. We’re still here. And not just that, but our friends come, and come back, and decide they’ll get up and do a limerick, and maybe one day the open mic….
Come. Laugh. Rhyme. I dare you.
The next Rhymes with Orange is Thursday 14 August at the Bedroom Bar, Shoreditch. Book your tickets now at https://bookwhen.com/rhymeswithorange