It’s been a busy couple of month’s for us here at Rhymes. We started spring in style with our second ever poetry retreat. Last year there were four of us, the organisers, but this year we stepped it up to 12 people! We decided to run it as a pilot for future such retreats and invited people who <3 Rhymes with Orange, have supported us throughout the year and have got up and done some stuff on the Rhymes stage (more on this in a bit). Next up we had the Hear no Evil festival. We were asked to do a 1 hour slot and got all of our resident poets up to do a couple of their favourite pieces and in a packed out railway arch in Hackney, they really delivered. The audience were predominantly non-poetry and seemed to enjoy every minute. So we hope to introduced a few more people to our rowdy brand of poetry! Lastly, we have a brithday coming up! Our 2nd birthday is on the 19th of June at the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch at 7.30pm. You can buy tickets here.
So a little mroe about that retreat! Well, one sticky spring day, with hearts full of dreams and bags full of notepads, we headed off on a short 30 minute train and then 40 minute taxi to the remote island of Northey in Malden, Essex. That doesn’t sound to remote or exotic but that’s what charmed us so much to find this little treasure in an Essex estuary! And there, with the rugged island (shipwreck and all) to ourselves, we spent the weekend writing, doing creative exercises, devising plays and partaking in the most epic treasure hunt of all time (I’m talking birdhuts, shipwrecks, buried treasure, ponds, gypsies…) organised by Ellie and Daisy Dawes. To say it was a productive weekend is an understatement. Everybody who came got poems out of it, many got friends out of it and everyone got a hangover out of it. The feedback was great and we will definitely be running another one later in the year. Probably at the same location because it was so beautiful and private (can only be accessed at low tide!). So watch this space for news of the next epic poetry retreat!
Yep, you read right – we’re being blatant this time, our theme for our 2nd birthday is dirt – so come prepared to listen to us twisting that topic into the darkest and dingiest of places.
June 19th 2014, Rhymes with Orange turns two. So, come and celebrate with us on what will be without doubt the greatest night of spoken word nonsense in the world ever – until we turn three that is.
We’ll have the FULL set of featured performers:
and our open mic winner from last night – Josh Allsopp
As well as the WORLD FAMOUS ORANGE CRUSH OPEN MIC. If you want one of the tickets for that – do make your way to the booking page: http://bookwhen.com/rhymeswithorange as soon as you can as there are only six places available.
In fact, all of you be warned, this event will sell out, so buy your tickets now so you don’t have to cry into your ready meal wishing you were there.
Last night for the first time since we started, I was an audience member not a performer, viewing the poets and the poems just like anyone else.
I was really happy to be ‘taking a rest’ (as all good performers like to say) because writing and performing new material every month or so is really quite hard work. Not, like, manual labour hard or even making custard from scratch hard, but playing a game of mental scrabble with yourself hard. With added self-doubt for extra fun.
So it was nice not to write, of course. But the real pleasure came from watching my fellow poets get up on stage and perform new poems, for the first time, all over again.
Because of our promise to write new material each time, every Rhymes with Orange is like the first one. No two have ever even been remotely similar in content, audience or performer. The combination that comes together each time is a unique and heady one. Is the audience rowdy? Or reflective? Are the performers feeling funny or feisty, or sad? Has the compere had a really shit day? Are we all going to be able to come together and make this thing happen?
But we do it, every time.
And sitting there in the low-lit room last night made me realise just how essential the audience is to the night. We are the cheerleaders and enablers, the shouters and the clappers. We’re the ones who implicitly give permission to the poets to perform. We, like a Roman emperor, give the thumbs up or thumbs down for each poem. We can condemn a poem to death with the mere stilling of our shakers or the silence of our laughter.
I watched spellbound and proud, as people I know and love; and people I barely know, stood tall and proud, pushed their chins up and walked into the blinding bright of the stage to share their words with me.
Their hearts will be beating so hard they’ll hear it in their ears like a bassline. They won’t be able to see the faces of the crowd, but they’ll be thankful for it. And they’ll have a dry taste in their mouth like they just did a shot of sand at the bar. But they’ll do the long slow walk to the stage anyway.
My privilege is in knowing how they will have sat down and written, rewritten, edited, panicked, practised, read out and read out and… had a quiet word with themselves in the loo beforehand. All before walking up on to the brightly lit stage and saying their poems for the first time to a crowd of people who’ve paid good money to be entertained by them.
And we will watch them, willing them on for their own good but also for ours. We want them to be good because we want to have a good time. I learnt last night that it is always the audience and never the poet who thinks ‘we’re in this together’.
We observers only ever see the tip of this enormous poetry iceberg, the very peak of the giant thing that is writing and preparing for the stage. And I think that is good and right, because that’s how we want it to be.
The audience made the night last night, just like they have every time before.
Because of that, I can’t wait to get back up there and read out my tip of the iceberg, my top of the mountain, my moment at the summit . Last night reminded me that the view up here is amazing and that I am so glad we’re all up there together.
Open mic slots for Rhymes with Orange sell out fast. The first people to hear when they go on sale are the people on our email list, so for your best chance to brave the stage, sign up for our lovely occasional emails.