Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sarah Thomasin - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Legend in her own mind Sarah Thomasin is next up, and having compered the first half for us we welcome her back to the stage. After a subtle plug for another Sheffield spoken word night called Vox ( if youre interested, which you should be if you like Speak Easy then Vox should be right up your alley), she reads us a variety of satirical poems, concerning current news stories. The one about Nelson Mandela meeting Jeremy Clarkson is particularly brilliant (find the news story Sarah refers to here Shes always entertaining, and shes here every month, so if you liked these poems you should attend the next Speak Easy event. Details on our Facebook group page

John Cornwell - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Another returning performer this month is John Cornwell, who is pretty much a regular feature now, much to our delight. This time he has a couple of poems which present a frivolous, irreverent view of international relations, the first of which is titled Dont Hide from Me, Argentina. He pokes fun at every conspiracy youve ever heard of, suggesting that theres a village just south of the River Plate where celebrities are innumerable. John tells us his second poem is about his birthday, which is coming up soon (we wish him many happy returns), and its just as funny as the first one. If love was an underlying theme all through Februarys Speak Easy event, then getting older holds a special place in Marchs, having been brought up by multiple performers which, we must say, is extremely appropriate as it is Speak Easys birthday too! We look forward to another year as good as this one.

Gary Hughes - Speak Easy 23/03/10

The wonderful if confusing Gary Hughes, last months featured poet, also makes his return for the one year anniversary of Speak Easy. After a slightly migraine inducingly complex performance last month we waited with bated breath for him, and hes again brilliantly funny and enigmatic.

He opens with a pop culture reference I actually got, explaining that his first poem was inspired by the incredible Bill Hicks who is sadly gone from us. Hicks famous this is your brain...this is your brain on drugs routine has led Gary to its logical conclusion, resulting in a poem that turns our brain into trifle. This is my favourite Gary Hughes poem as its clever enough to fit into his high brow cannon, yet simple enough for me to understand whats going on. Fortunately his performances are always so strong that anyone can enjoy them even if you dont get all the references, and consequently hes always a high point of the evening. His second (and last) poem is more of a narrative than were used to seeing from him, but is just as amusing and irreverent. Hopefully Gary will return next time to confound us further.

Owen - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Following Geraint Owen we have...Owen (no relation obviously), who had an excellent showing at the February Speak Easy, and repeats the trick again here. He has four very short poems for us today, and theyre all more than good enough for us to want him back next month too. Unscrewed, Laws of Extraction, The Rough End of the Sponge and In a Battle are variously giggle worthy and sinister (sometimes both), but all of them are pretty clever.

The rather amusing The Rough End of the Sponge is a personal favourite of mine Owen explains to us that its about living in a house full of slobs, which Im sure most people who have been to university can relate to. I can, but it seems that Owen didnt just give up like I did. I didnt write a poem about it either, but I know that if I had, I would have wanted to email John Turner ( to book a slot at Speak Easy so I could read it. Or maybe Id have just turned up on the night and read it anyway. My poem wouldnt have been very funny though, like Owens is, which is why Im leaving it to you guys to do it.

Geraint - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Geraint is probably fed up of us mispronouncing his name every time he comes but he cant be that bothered because he keeps coming back and we enjoy his performance every time. I dont think Ive got a single pop culture reference at Speak Easy (I must have led a very sheltered life), but whether its about the Wire, the Blues Brothers, or anything else I havent seen, Im still struck by the quality of the performances, and Geraint is a great example of this. He reads six short poems about anger, from different perspectives, such as that of the angry drunk, or the angry partner, though he assures us that hes not an angry person himself.

He tells us he commissioned himself to write the next poem, to commemorate his friend Bobs birthday. He uses words that rhyme with Bob that begin with every letter of the alphabet, and I dont want to spoil anything for you, but its so good and performed so well that its a definite highlight of the night, and simply a must see. He mentions Blackadder Ive seen that! Geraints got one more poem for us, about swimming at night, which perfectly caps an excellent performance.

Mutah - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Here at Speak Easy we enjoy poetry on all themes from all traditions, so whatever you want to say, however you want to say it, well welcome you to the stage. Following on from Rich we have another first time reader, Mutah, who demonstrates this to great effect, with two tuneful poems.

In his introduction, Mutah tells us he is a Bantu lyricist (, and his first poem Collisions is about physics. Equally insightful and intriguing is a second poem about his friend, which has a somewhat political bent. He delivers a fairly short set, but it is very enjoyable, and his warm and friendly manner adds a great deal to it. We hope to hear him perform for us again soon.

Whether you do Physics, English, Social Studies, Horse Care or nothing at all (or all of the above), wed like to hear your thoughts on it at our next event. Information can be found on our Facebook groups page or our Twitter page Contact John ( to book a five minute slot, or just turn up on our doorstep and well throw you straight onto the stage. In the nicest possible way.

Rich - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Second act of the second half is Rich, a first time reader here at Speak Easy, though we hope hell come back again some time soon. He has a short poem for us on a theme that everyone can relate to mothers. Its a very humorous look at what our mums tell us all throughout our lives. Rich performs very well, and though he seems quiet and nervous at first he is really enjoying himself by the end, as is everyone else. This is a very short video, but its definitely worth watching at least once.

Are you Rich? Do you want to come back and read again? Are you not Rich, and want to come and read for us anyway? Then contact John on, or just show up on the night and well do our best to fit you in. You get five minutes to fill in pretty much any way you want to, so use your imagination. We look forward to your call.

Joe - Speak Easy 23/03/10

After Jude we had a brief intermission, which explains why we see the bar flies returning to their respective tables at the beginning of this video fittingly highlighting a great reason to come to Speak Easy; where else can you enjoy a drink and some excellent poetry? And if you already go somewhere else to enjoy a drink and poetry each month, youll know that Speak Easy will be right up your street.

The wonderful Maria Kardel, having already performed, takes over from Sarah as compere for the second half, and immediately introduces its first great act Joe. He reads three poems, the first of which is called Teachers Dilemma in Winter. He explains that its about the snow which plagued us less than a month earlier, though considered from a perspective that not everyone hears about: on the news every day for weeks we were told about the anger of parents at schools being closed, but what do teachers think of it? His second poem, Stole Some Time Today, is much more optimistic, and the theme creeps up again in his third and final poem Sometimes, which is rather short, but very good.

Jude - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Jude is married to Bry who performed immediately before her, and she reads an extract from her upcoming third novel My Adventures in Cyberspace 2, due for publication later this year. This particular extract features a similar theme to the poem Bry just read, and both of them clearly feel very strongly about the subject matter, shaving their heads in protest. Its a fairly short video, and most of it is explanation which does add a great deal, as it helps to accentuate Judes passion - and distaste for internet pornography, which the reading is concerned with. Maybe you agree with her on this issue, maybe you dont, but the conviction with which she performs is inspiring nonetheless.

Jude and Bry film a lot of their own Speak Easy performances, and you can find them (as well as other entertaining stuff Jude has added) on Judes own YouTube channel - definitely worth checking out. Judes reading tonight links up well with the poem performed by Bry, which can be viewed here

Bry - Speak Easy 23/03/10

You might recognize Bry from every video of Speak Easys one year anniversary spectacular so far or at least the back of his head. My fault of course; I dont think it spoils the view too much. Fortunately for us, the front of his head is just as good, if not better, as amusing words come out of it. Bry is a regular at Speak Easy and never disappoints, so you know that this video is going to be worth watching and you dont need me to sell it to you.

Ever the trickster, Bry tries to confuse us at the beginning of the video by pulling the old switcharoo with his partner Jude. Jude and Bry film a lot of their own Speak Easy performances, and you can find them (as well as other entertaining stuff Jude has added) on Judes own YouTube channel - definitely worth checking out. Bry has one poem for us tonight, and it links up well with Judes performance straight afterwards, which can be found here

Davos - Speak Easy 23/03/10

First off I have to apologise to one of the March Speak Easys featured acts Davos, and everyone viewing this on YouTube, about the shoddy camera work I forgot I wasnt directing a fight scene in a Jason Bourne film, and to be quite honest I wasnt expecting Davos to move around quite so much. Needless to say that Davos is a very compelling and enjoyable in a live setting, but this doesnt translate too well to video when the camera man is this useless.

Davos tells lots of jokes and reads very amusing poems, so if thats your kind of thing the veteran here (meant in the nicest possible way) is one of the best examples of a comic poet youll find. Its to be expected of course, as Davos is one of the infamous, intriguing and absolutely legendary Circus of Poets. He reads twice for us here the first is a brilliant poem about getting older, and its the kind of thing weve heard from our own Saga Lout John Turner (another Circus performer) on many a Speak Easy night the second is a childrens poem which adults will enjoy too. Like Shrek, but a poem.

Delia - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Speaking of instruments, Delia follows Steve She opens with a nice and somewhat colloquial infused poem called Tasty Unfurling (Why I Quit My Job), which, entertaining as it is, doesnt really prepare us for what comes next the hysterical and resoundingly familiar (to you, not me) Dildo Paranoia. This absolutely has to be the funniest poem Ive heard at Speak Easy, and thats no disrespect to anyone else; this really is that good. Its difficult to explain without incriminating myself, so I implore you to just watch it. Perhaps its not for prudes but you should know by now that you cant really come to Speak Easy if you are one...

Delia is a brilliant performer she has excellent movement, and really engages the audience. She has a very musical voice, pauses in all the right places, and speaks clearly and fluently again no disrespect to any of the other Speak Easy performers, who are all phenomenal, but Delia seems like she was born to do this. She also has no shame, which never hurts here at Speak Easy.

Steve - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Sadly Bryan T didnt make it to the Speak Easy one year anniversary festivities this may or may not be because I made him up, as Im informed he might not exist. Apologies to Sarah then, who spent a considerable amount of time trying to find him, which along with Steves set up time (he needed two microphones; one for his guitar) explains why the running time of this video is slightly longer.

We get around one musical performance each month at Speak Easy, and its always a highlight veteran guitarist Steve is no exception. He tells us the song hes singing is green, but interestingly its sort of disillusioned with the whole movement. Hes tapping into an interesting side of all of us one where wed like to make things better for everyone, but were not really sure how much we can do. The song is about five minutes long and its definitely worth listening to, so give it a go.

Do you play acoustic guitar? Ukulele? Tambourine? Triangle? Can you hand bone? Were really excited for you to come and show us anything youve written (preferably with a literary flavour, but we really dont mind) contact John ( to book a slot, or just turn up with your (musical) instrument and tell us youll have a bash.

Ruby - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Following Tom and a brief microphone adjustment we have Ruby. She opens with a poem called This Night, which ably shows the play off between nature and the remnants of human life once were all in bed. Its rather short but very poetic, and really quite enjoyable. Her second poem is called Tuning Fork, and its pretty self explanatory really its about sound. Finally she reads Winter, as the dregs of winter were still outside. Tortoise based humour abounds; its pretty apt for her to read this enjoyable poem just as spring is coming. Im not sure if Ive ever seen Ruby read at Speak Easy before, but either way it would be great for everyone if shed come back, as she was very amusing. Possibly an excellent introduction to Ruby, or possibly a solid returning performer. Let me know.

The sound on this video is slightly quiet (which is certainly no fault of Rubys of course), so I suggest turning it up a little bit I promise theres no sudden loud noises anywhere that will make you regret it.

Tom Calvard - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Sarah begins this video criticising my sign making skills. How dare she? When Tom Calvard, a psychologist, takes the stage (for a second month running I might add) he warns us that his first poem is a little complex and abstract his explanation of it certainly is...its about the imagination, and our view of the world, and though it tackles some pretty heavy stuff, its quite upbeat, though this is partially down to Toms energetic delivery. Poem number two is about university newcomers, and the positives and negatives of the fresher. Tom really captures the dynamic of the student freshers get laid, get drunk, join clubs, get ill, get better, and everyone else has realised they need to be in the library all the time...

Hope to see Tom again next month as hes always entertaining. If you want to join Tom on stage next month (fingers crossed), you can contact John at to book a five minute slot, or just turn up on the night and hope we can fit you in. If we cant, youll still have had a good time!

Maria Kardel - Speak Easy 23/03/10

Welcome to the March edition of Speak Easy! This month its our one year anniversary, and as our legendary compere Sarah Thomasin points out, some unfortunate souls have been to every single event. Some of the audience are only just joining us they dont know what theyre getting themselves into!

Getting down to business, Sarah introduces us to her lovely co-compere Maria, who will be maintaining some degree of order in the second half but right now will be reading us a poem called On a Train with an Electric Eel. Even Phillip Larkin had a poem set on a train (the excellent Whitsun Weddings, look it up), so Maria fits straight into the tradition. Its pretty short, but pretty heavy she really gets the hot, claustrophobic feeling across, but Maria is always good at that kind of thing.

I have to recommend listening carefully to this, as Ive just experienced an unfortunate housemate overhearing incident.

Ollie Francis - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Watch the video first or else my write up might spoil the ending for you.

Joe couldnt make it on 23/02/10 either, so after the offer of mints (or judging from his reaction, despite the offer of mints) Voxs Ollie Francis luckily agreed to fill in some time for us. He improvises a story Oswald Steers into a Mousse, which sounds either much shorter or much less possible than it is. Happily Oswald Steers into a Mousse is in fact hilarious, and proves to be one of the hits of the night.

Vox Sheffield is a volunteer-led organisation that exists to nurture, encourage, and showcase creative expression and experimentation, connect people in our city, and serve the local and global community.

Vox is the latin word for voice. We are passionate about creating a supportive, collaborative environment that combines the voices or artists and local merchants to speak on behalf of those in our city and around the world without a voice.

Stan - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Though he was scheduled, sadly Guy Hollingsworth couldnt make it to the February Speak Easy event. However a last minute replacement was found in the form of Stan, the legendary winner of Poet Stars. Dont say we dont deliver. Though the running time for the video says 9 minutes, we have to take into account the amount of time that Maria spent trying to find a guy, and then the amount of time it took to bribe Stan with sweets. He also abandoned the stage at one point...

Though he may or may not have showered that day, Stan was certainly on form, and everyone (such as myself) introduced to him for the first time could see why he wins competitions. Following an uproarious poem comparing lovers to cars, he breaks out his little guitar (what is that, a ukulele?), and bursts into the incredible Jacqueline the Crossword Queen, treating us to our second dubious foreign accent of the night. To be entirely honest, if you only watch one video posted on this channel, it should probably be this one.

John Cornwell - Speak Easy 23/02/10

After Sarah we have John Cornwell, reading his poem, or rather letter, titled From Sid and Edna. John says he wrote it because of the number of round robins he gets at Christmas. I had to look this up, so for those of you that dont know, a round robin is a single letter sent to multiple addresses like kids do for Christmas thank you letters. John does a good job of drawing our attention to just how ridiculous this tradition is perhaps criticising the lack of proper communication that seems to be coming about and does so in an absolutely hilarious manner. I think his very non mechanical delivery actually helps the poem, making it seem more human, aiding him in making his point. Just the one poem from John, but it really is excellent this is one of the must see videos from the February Speak Easy.

Sarah Thomasin - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Following a brief intermission Maria takes over as compere, introducing the legendary Sarah Thomasin, who has some topical poetry for us. Leaving it until the very last minute to write, tut tut, Sarah first reads a poem inspired by Alan Ahlbergs Please Mrs. Butler (which can be found at the poetry archive if youre interested), telling tales on this boy, Gordon Brown. Apparently hes been calling her names and such, I cant imagine that being true. Next on the block is Nick Griffin I cant imagine what hes done to be called stupid. But nonetheless, Sarah launches a patronising attack on the man which is pretty hilarious definitely worth watching more than once this one. It does make you think though, that maybe Sarah needs to socialise with nicer people.

Finally were back in Haiti for a more serious poem, written in the form of two haiku. Its really quite a sweet one, and makes us think more about the subject its human beings that are suffering there after all. Whatever the current issue is, perhaps youd like the share your thoughts on it? It doesnt have to be a poem we welcome everything from stories to stand up. You can even just talk at us if you like. Contact John ( to book a five minute slot.

Gary Hughes - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Closing the first half of the February Speak Easy is our featured poet of the night, Gary Hughes, who Sarah aptly describes as wonderful if slightly confusing. I was certainly confused, Ive never seen The Wire. But I hear good things.

I hear good things from Gary Hughes too. The first poem was completely lost on me, but much of the audience found it hilarious, and to be honest, the delivery was good enough for even the most po faced to issue a titter. The second poem also concerned something I wasnt quite sure about, but the wonderfully bohemian seeming Gary seems to assure us that were not really supposed to get just what it is that hes talking about. Name dropping Schrödinger rather than Shelley, he moves on through two more poems the explanation of the first of these makes the poem even more complicated the fourth and final poem once again returns to the theme of love which seems to run through the night. Its about desire, and its called Darth Vader Suit. Make of that what you will.

Tony - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Moving swiftly on to Speak Easy debutant Tony we had Matt Spence scheduled but he couldnt make it we are treated to two fairly short and very clever poems. In the first of these poems, he personifies a joke, turning it into a sort of movie star character, sat in a bar reading a book of poetry. Though its not really a laugh out loud sort of funny poem, its nevertheless entertaining, and leaves us with a warm feeling. More love poetry next though as Tony says, its a reluctant love poem. Its called Dare. It seems to expand the preceding Geraints poem about the muse this time the muse is writing poetry about the poet, as odd as that sounds. The muse accuses the poet of being overly poetic and in contrast to tradition, feels that this cheapens their love. I really cant do it justice in a 200 word description, so youre much better off watching the recording of what I can promise is an extremely good pair of poems.

Geraint - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Sarah introduces Geraint next, proving that I'm not the only one whos not so good with names but we forgive her (please forgive me). He continues the theme John started, with a poem about being a poet called A Muse Thing. He explores the relationship between poet and muse in terms of writing the poem we often hear about the inspiration for a poem, but Geraint is reading a poem about the creative process of transferring inspiration to verse. His next poem is about asbestos, which is considerably less dangerous. He applies it to the context of the snow as he says Im too young to know what asbestos is, but Im going to assume its some kind of white powder. Which as we all know never fuels poetry usually.

Geraints third poem is uncomfortably linked to his last, as it concerns the recent crisis in Haiti, and the loss of life in the earthquake there. In a fourth and final poem, Geraint returns to his first theme, telling us that he wants to write a fragment, like his favourite poet Wilfred Owen (no relation), and reads us a much more cheerful poem. Quite a variety on show here, enjoy!

Tom Calvard - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Following Rachel we have Tom Calvard with two poems which pick up the pace and cheer up the place. As Owen reminded us, its only a week after Valentines Day, and Tom reads us our second love poem of the night although this isnt romantic love. That doesnt stop it being really really soppy. Toms poem highlights the connection shared between siblings, and focuses on the more positive side of the relationship between brothers and sisters its really rather sweet.

The second poem Tom has for us is called Sheffield Morning Jogger a very light hearted affair, and again a poem with undertones of love. Accurately but poetically depicting people throwing up outside one of Sheffields many vomit inducing grease bars is no easy feat whats even harder is making us go aww while its done. This is what real love is like, the poem seems to say, and its all the more pleasant for it.

Rachel Ward - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Sadly, this was Rachel's final performance at Speak Easy as she passed away in early April. She will be fondly remembered and much missed by all of us, and our condolences go out to her friends and family.

Maria Kardel - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Next up we have one of the pillars of Speak Easy, the wonderful Maria Kardel (who as Sarah says, comperes after the interval). She just has the one poem for us, but its a good one so who can complain? Context here is the snow Marias poem is about one winter, long ago, but who can forget the drifts and blizzards outside as we made our ways to the hubs? Speak Easy readers are rather excellent at being current.

The poem Maria reads is a little darker than most of what were used to at the event, but its also very poetic. She uses simile and metaphor to really get across the scale of the winter she experienced coupled with the fact that we were still shivering from when we got there it was very effective. Another clever feature that she uses the snow seems to be the action, and her own experiences of it are rather more of a background. The snow is acting, and the people are acted upon, which is exactly how we felt in the big freeze. Brilliant. More of Maria in the second half.

Owen Townend - Speak Easy 23/02/10

The Saga Lout might be a hard act to follow but he might not so poor Owen Townend would seem to have his work cut out for him. Fortunately he does a thoroughly excellent job with four very short but very good poems. He opens with a poem about why Twilight sucks (get it?) and how bloody irritating it is that Hollywood is cashing in on the vampire epidemic at the minute. We were all thinking it. He then epitomises the idea that you can find inspiration for poetry absolutely anywhere, reading a poem called Bloodaxe, which he tells us is about some graffiti on the train tracks between Sheffield and Huddersfield. Interesting fact which Im sure you all already know - Bloodaxe is also a poetry publisher, famous for their anthologies of contemporary poetry. Pretty apt, dont you think?

Owen proves what an eclectic young man he is moving from vampires and graffiti to Pac Man and then love songs, with a pretty disturbing take on the video game classic, and then, only a week after Valentines Day, Owen treats us to an incredibly clever poem comprised entirely of love song titles, which is really rather excellent.

John Turner - Speak Easy 23/02/10

Welcome to the official YouTube channel for Speak Easy, the deadliest open mic. night in town! This is our very first video upload, and were starting as we mean to go on. This video opens with a most unsettling thought, but thoroughly excellent introduction from our lovely compere Sarah Thomasin, and before long were joined by a man who is beyond compare.

John Turner has been organizing the Speak Easy event every month for almost a year now, always putting in a memorable performance himself, and in this video we see him in a positive tour de force the Saga Lout treats us to three full poems. As he says, the first two of these are about being a poet Its important to be a poet, he says he opens with a rather intriguing musing on how its easier to write poetry when one is sad or even angry hes absolutely right of course, if Speak Easy has taught us one thing, its that its quite straight forward to make your audience uncomfortable. Just kidding!

His second poem is set to a tune; its a well known fact round these here parts that John Turner is quite a musical fellow. He likes his dodgy beats. He deals with a different aspect of being a poet here: the sense of self satisfaction you get when you write something clever, and through an incredibly upbeat performance, gets across his message on the joys of performing poetry live. If you want to experience this joy for yourself, send a postcard with your address on it to I want to read at Speak Easy,, Sheffield, S1 J/K, or just turn up on the night and well do our best to cater to you.

Thankfully, John Turner hasnt finished hes got one more for us. His poem called Fifteenth Story Incident with Small Fruit is extremely amusing not unusual for John and the Speak Easy readers of course its about the suicide in America bloke off TV, and rather than me spoiling it for you, why dont you just watch it? Needless to say, with such an irreverent man dealing with irreverent subject matter, were treated to a little insight into troubled minds again, not unusual for Speak Easy! That was another joke. Enjoy!

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