Reviewer: Lucy Horwood.
Homemade soup, apple strudel and a whole lot of poetry – difficult to regard as anything less than the recipe for a pleasurable evening out, especially when expense free. In collaboration with Art in The Park, Off the Shelf’s Write Down Your Street workshop series was brought to a head in Cafe Euro, which warmly welcomed with hearty bowls of soup the celebration of collected works of poetry by adults and children from all over Sheffield.
Heaving to the edges of the room well before the poetry begun, Cafe Euro was brimming with local interest and budding poets. With no available chair in sight, I squeezed to the back of the cafe – coincidentally next to the food counter supplying what seemed like an unending barrage of tasty food – to witness the exposition of poetry. Stuart Lodge kick-started the evening with his â€˜scratch performanceâ€™, clad in a red mask and arrow head bounding around the stage with what emerged as a free verse modern epic entitled ‘The Red Arrow’. It was a manic and compelling performance, evolving into a satirizing of over-enthusiastic X-Factor contestants that got a lot of laughs.
Following was Matt Black. The gobbledegook of his â€˜Nonsenseâ€™ poem was brilliantly original as he spilled out reams of made-up words. There were performances from the Low Edges Writing Group, autobiographical lyrics harking nostalgically back to home comforts and lardy fish â€˜nâ€™ chip shops of the Sheffield glory days. The childrenâ€™s poetry from the Meadowhead workshops was staged by the mysterious vocals of Mark Doyle, who spoke dramatically of werewolfs, car-lifters and kidnapping parents, an obscure delivery which gave the perspective of the child a haunting but undeniably hilarious edge. The most noteworthy performance for me was the remarkable voice of Delia. Her piece, written the point of view of an oil radiator, was delightfully convincing and came to life through its rhythmical pace and splashes of onomatopoeic sing-song. A shiveringly soulful dose of her Kate Nash-eque vocals (minus the whine…) proceeded.
The compilation – not forgetting an accordion piece and many more contributors – climaxed with a passionate feat from Joe Kriss Wordlife editor of Now Then, who pronounced what seemed to chime a familiar bell: ‘3am is the New Midnight’. The evening gave testament to the success of a project that has enabled the diversity and talent of local voices within Sheffield to come together and create. I look forward to taking part in the next festival.
Photographs by Charlotte Newton.