Poetry Cafe Special, the famous Frome Festival Slam, was totally crammed, with 16 competitors and an enthusiastic audience. Our guest for the night was Peter Wyton, self-dubbed 'Bin Bag Bard', whose act looked in his promo like a rhyming version of Paul Merton's impro but turned out to be a cunning way to avoid planning a set. Random order didn't affect the humour of the verses and Peter's drollery was hailed as "the funniest thing to come to the region since Wells hosted Hot Fuzz!"
Then on to the Open Mic, with our brave and brilliant poets this time submitting themselves to the judgement of their peers. Subjects ranged from tales of Tin Tin to the gratuitousness of gout, with several first time performers among regular favourites and high scores reflecting the stunning quality of the performances. But there was no doubt about our new Festival Poet Laureate: Dianne Penny scored a perfect 6 with all three judges for her poem 'God in a hoodie' and took home the title and the bubbly. What I didn't reveal to our already-nervous poets was that an Apples & Snakes talent-scout was among the audience, and two of our regular poets may get a call....
Desert Island Reads on Thursday afternoon, was featured in the 'Festival Eclectic' listing and filled Trinity Hall, requiring extra chairs and extra interval time to dispense tea and cake to all. Extracts chosen by our 8 castaways ranged from the harrowing - the letter of a 16th Century pirate victim - to the sublime - Yeats' Wandering Aengus, from the sensuality of Under Milk Wood to the childlike wisdom of The Little Prince. Reasons for choice were as fascinating and moving as the readings themselves. Keely Beresford spoke of her passion for theatre -'that make-believe room blazing with light' and used a powerful speech from Bluebird to illustrate her belief that 'Actors owe the writer everything'. Poet Sue Boyle recalled her first encounters with 'words that speak to me and have shaped my life' while Kevan Manwaring brought his current reading: the surreal afterlives of SUM and Christine Coleman shared her fascination with lives glimpsed through letters. Full list of choices, for those who've asked me, will be on the website soon.
Now my organisey bits are done with just write-ups to finish and tired-but-happy mutual congratulations to share, it's time to appreciate other aspects of the festival: the tranquility of the Blue House sculpture garden, the eccentric energy of Cabaret sans Frontieres, this year offering its macabre and madcap medley from a ship bound for 'the edge of the edge of possibilities, and beyond.'
Kundalini energy required...
Mega-congratulations to Annabelle & Howard and the whole team for this brilliant show - no wonder both nights sold out.
More about our events here, or go to Frome Festival NEWS page and scroll down to TENTH ANNIVERSARY TAKES OFF.