Sounds of the Soapbox
Wednesday night saw our first evening of poetry performed in the Seckford Theatre as part of the 3rd Woodbridge Youth Poetry Festival. Our now regular poetry friend, Amy Wragg, with fellow artists from Get On The Soapbox, treated us to a wonderfully diverse set performed to a 150 strong audience. Amy, a performance poet in her own right, is so much more than a host, drawing us in to recollections of her life filling stages at festivals in ‘Take Me Back To The Fields’, considering ‘What Poetry Is’, and collapsing the distinction between page and stage artists. She then introduced us to Allanah Jo-Ann Peck, an upcoming poet based in Ipswich whose work reverberated with passion and fragility. Meditations on her dog ‘Fletcher’ and the fallout from a university led CV workshop were particular highlights. Matt Annis, a personal favourite of mine, touched on the political, the familial and the commercial, launching an uncomfortable attack on the insidious nature of advertisements on social media with his robotic refrain of ‘fit in the mould, do as you’re told, be what you’re sold’. After a short interval our headline act for the evening, John Osborne, entertained us gently and with words that seemed to come naturally and sweetly yet with a core of sharp humour that never alienated his enthusiastic audience. He considered the plight of his friend at school, Michael Jackson – yes, like the singer, yes, people have said that before, yes, it is quite annoying – and I found myself wondering whether John himself has been the recipient of such comments – yes, like the playwright. But his poems never looked back in anger, rather they recollected with joy his closeness with his twin sister, two astounding young buskers on Hastings pier, that dream of buying a new sieve. My personal favourite was his thought-experiment of meeting Kylie on an online dating website and whether she’d respond to a message from a shy guy who lives in Norwich in a house with a chubby neighbour who snores. He should be so lucky.
This was an evening that showcased the imaginative possibilities to be found in our ordinary world, the spaces we live in and people we share them with, the feelings that we all struggle with, and made poetry in response and as a sort of solution. I am sure each poet will have inspired the audience to go home and write something, perhaps in anger, but also in a spirit of honesty and tenderness.