Having made the recent and wholly unexpected decision to move on from the poetry business, Blahblahblah's loquacious and trusted compere Byron Vincent kicked off proceedings for his final time. Sad to be leaving, Byron offered the audience one final insight into his mind and medical cabinet with a prelude as idiosyncratic and mordant as ever. Going against tradition, he opted not to “test his chops at the expense of everyone's entertainment” and instead read an old poem that he explained was about “liars”. What followed was a blithesome prod at the bridge between certain people's projected and real selves with specific reference to their ironic donning of slogan t-shirts. Byron cathartically released on a series of targeted “bastards” in a sociopathic rant to comic effect. Thus, the basement stage was primed once again for Byron's “poetry gimp” and dear friend, Dave.
With heightened confidence, the self-proclaimed naturalist sauntered on stage for a second swing of the poetry bat since his debut reading in May. Introducing himself with a grunt, Dave launched into an enlightening tale regarding the neuroscience of free-will. Armed to the teeth with scholarly substance, his poem 'I Did That' was delivered with philosophical poise to achieve the profound conclusion that we are less in control of our conscious minds than we may find it comfortable to believe.
Next to take to the stage was the awkward orator, Callum Mitchell. Shining a light on his own shortcomings, Callum warmed up the crowd before reciting three candid works that displayed flecks of literary flair on the topics of relationships, anxieties and Carol Smiley.
Byron then returned to the stage to flog himself once more before introducing the cordially confident Andy Craven-Griffiths. Immediately capturing the audience with an arresting stage presence, Andy put forth a manifesto centred around three preliminary concepts: “Be nice”, “The importance of context” and “Emotion is contagious”. Successfully practicing what he preaches, Andy lit the stage like a beacon, transmitting positivity and joy through the promotion of altruism.
Andy's penultimate poem, 'Horseshoes', narrated the tale of a fond friendship as childhood experiences were illuminated with stunning and indelible perspicuity. Delivering passages with metronomic accuracy in amongst free verse intervals, ‘Horseshoes’ rocked the audience deep into solace before reaching its shocking conclusion. Bringing forth the densely weighted undercurrent of child abuse, Andy thoroughly galvanised the aforementioned importance of context and left the audience dumbfounded.
Following the interval, the audience was then guided through the hallucinogenic hallways of Caroline Bird's mind. Loosely based around a core of familiar human emotions and relationships, Caroline's poems drove through a lucid dream world that was nothing short of mind-bending. Her final piece, 'Medicine', ingeniously articulated a dichotomous tension between heart and mind. Rising and falling in intensity, the poem evinced unparalleled skill in communicating a sense of cognitive dissonance in relatable yet stunning fashion.
Lusciously surreal and charmingly bold, Caroline sailed the evening towards its close. Rounding off the night, the Blahblahblah crowd applauded loudly in a fond and final farewell to host Byron, in an appreciative nod to all his hard work satisfying Bristol's thirst for spoken-word.
Photography: George Dallimore