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Rosy Carrick

#217: Blahblahblah presents ‘Love: What’s the Point?’ @ Bristol Old Vic, 16th February 2016


#217: Blahblahblah presents ‘Love: What’s the Point?’ @ Bristol Old Vic, 16th February 2016

Blahblahblah - Feb 2016 - 10.jpg

       It seems far too long since Blahblahblahs’s last outing, December’s jaw-droppingly good anti-Christmas anti-slam. With Valentine’s Day having just passed and no doubt the soon-to-be-seen spring lambs bringing all things procreative to mind, it was Blah’s turn to take on romance with ‘Love: What's the Point?’. Again with a competitive aspect, two teams – eight poets in total – were invited to make the case for or against love. What would happen? Would we see a bunch of lovelorn poets, earnestly pining? Would those tasked with arguing against love be brutally cynical?

       Always on-hand to set the agenda for the evening, Blah’s Anna Freeman started with an uproarious poem that asked a new flame: ‘Can you see yourself with me… in ten years… in therapy?’. As if to underscore the romantic theme of the evening, Freeman accosted members of the audience to choose cut-up cutesy pet names for the performers – listed below in square brackets – the outcomes of which ensured irreverence from the get-go.

       Bohdan Piasecki [Big Chief Creamy-Wobble] first took the podium on the side of love. Offering two poems from different stages of a relationship, he treated the audience with the first poem, which dealt with love through the lens of an urban landscape - ‘I will give you the city as a gift’ – to the same verse in his native Polish, a language that often trumps English in its inherent musicality and in its poetic tradition (witness the towering Adam Mickiewicz). Nothing at all was lost in translation. The aforementioned poem blended seamlessly and spellbindingly, while his second dealt with love of family and was equally captivating, leftfield and abundant with imagery.

       Our first advocate from the anti-love camp was the inimitable Jonny Fluffypunk [Silly Little Cuddle-Pants]. Jonny also gave us a poem set in time – from the beginning of a relationship. Exquisitely cynical about new love: ‘ignite some vile aromatherapy candle’, there was however a discernible undercurrent of yearning. The second piece revelled in seedy loneliness – describing a bachelor neighbouring an amorous couple. Jonny treated the audience later to a bit of autobiography – being moved away from London to the gentile surroundings of Buckinghamshire, a longing for the excitement and edginess of the city with him ever since. It seems for him, it wasn’t so much that love is innately bad, just that there are so many absurdities and unsavory things along the way.

       Malaika Kegode [Admiral Licky-Bear] was the next poet in favour of love. Warm and ethereal, her graceful tones have been showcased at Blah before. Unashamed longing was in her first poem. Her second, meanwhile, talked about love in the broader sense, reminiscing about a friend who has passed. Whether or not jazz-poetry technically, the openness and tenderness, tinged with the slight wistfulness of her delivery and coupled with precise rhythm is at least reminiscent of that strand within said genre.

       Rosy Carrick [Doctor Sticky-Monkey] lent a sardonically witty and often surreal delivery, clever role-play abounding. Carrick is the person you wanted to hang around with at school. Wry, cool, erudite and a bit ribald, here is someone – with respect to the matter at hand – who is wise to the fallacies love sells us; less anti-love, more ‘anti the sort that makes you want to vom’. She offered her kind of love stories – weaving in kooky quotes from politicians about trainspotting, incarceration devices and ankles, suggestive of society’s somewhat niche romantic desires.

       Buddy Carson [Inspector Fumble-Knickers] unapologetically defended love, speaking with authority without fawning over it: ‘even shit love is good’, making a compelling argument.  His first piece with flawless and energetic meter talked about different types of love, indeed different sized hearts. His second was altogether more visceral, indeed biological, providing evidence that the concept is not static, and certainly not one-size-fits-all.

       Furthering the cause of the love-cynics, Danny Pandolfi [Captain Smoochy-Bum] delved into poetic rap, imbued with a spiritualised, redemptive cadence, presumably on the pitfalls of love: ‘nobody wants to see a face on a trainline’; with entreaties from someone who has been there ‘take my advice’, almost as a note-to-self. Gesticulating poetically and animatedly about the frustrations of all things romantic, he ruminated on the interface between love and perfection.

       Poet Curious [Silky-Bunny Old-Beast] again and rightly turned the focus away from romantic love towards familial love and as a riposte to the cynics, that strength of love that develops over time. He offered a musical metaphor as an ode to his daughter which was heartfelt and meticulous – incidentally the first poem he wrote for either of his children. Music analogies peppered poem number two which recounted a romantic affair: ‘hard vibes like bashment’ but also did those of science, with him talking of ‘neurons’ and ‘universes’ alluding to the physicality and totality of love.

       With the only gendered, instantly-generated stage name of the night, anti-romantic Laurie Bolger [Princess Tasty-Bits] gave a brilliantly every(wo)man account of love in her two poems; the first, equally touching as it was unromantic. Her pieces, in terms of content, describing the space and environment of a morning-after and the jaded, single twentysomething experience, typified a common thread amongst many of the performers – an acerbic nostalgia, that if not full of quixotic love, is nevertheless tender and earthy.

       It was great to see the diverse interpretations of love – sometimes obliquely referenced through science or biology, or its relations to and reflections in other media like music or film, always highlighting what an integral part of life it can be. One was in awe and indeed envious on how this talented troupe were able to philosophise in such an entertaining and accessible way. In the end, it was deemed by the audience that love won the day and accordingly the pro-love team were treated to chocolate roses as a token of their victory.

       If – to paraphrase Johnny Cash – you found yourself this February bound by wild desire, ready to fall into that fiery ring, you could have done much worse have some of the finest talent in spoken-word and poetry level with you on such matters of the heart. While Shakespeare implored that if music be its food then we should play on, other would rather the needle was solidly removed from the vinyl. With this in mind, Blahblahblah this month pitted some amazing poets and spoken-word artists against each other with stunning results.

Thomas P. Caddick

Photography: Darren Paul Thompson

Blahblahblah: Website / Facebook / Bristol Old Vic


#177: 'Blahblahblah' w. Tim Wells, Rosy Carrick, Keith Jarrett and Richard 'Dingo' Dingwall @ Bristol Old Vic, 13th October 2014


#177: 'Blahblahblah' w. Tim Wells, Rosy Carrick, Keith Jarrett and Richard 'Dingo' Dingwall @ Bristol Old Vic, 13th October 2014

       Newly published (and critically acclaimed) novelist Anna Freeman introduced this October edition of Blahblahblah as a return to it’s traditional multi-performer format. This follows a successful dalliance with full-length programming having recently hosted 'Anthropoetry', the brilliantly creative Edinburgh show by Mellor & Steele.

       Drawing upon a newly discovered goldmine of comedy found in a mis-translated travel guide for Granada, Anna read its ridiculous descriptions to much laughter from the intimate Old Vic basement crowd. With each preposterous statement from the clueless guide raising ever greater chortles of disbelief from the room, the ice was nicely broken for the evening’s first guest performer, Keith Jarrett.

Keith Jarrett - Blahblahblah - October 2014 - Stamped.jpg

       Stepping into the spotlight, Keith beamed a big smile and spoke of his afternoon as a tourist in Bristol, having travelled west across the country from London. Settling himself into the groove, his first couple of poems explored the story behind his name and his relationship with his own reflection in the mirror, whilst establishing an easily accessible presence, peppered with the occasional, enjoyable pop-culture reference.

       His third poem, ‘A Gay Poem’, saw Keith hit full stride. Assuming the persona of a disconcerted writer whose work has unexpectedly revealed itself to be gay, his bemused responses, frantic analysis of formative experiences and frenzied inquisition as to what may be ‘to blame’ proved an illuminating and frequently funny satirical spin on a parent’s rocky journey of acceptance.

       Finishing up with the altogether different topic of his early rapping days and his first performances at church (with particular homages paid to Redman, DMX and other key names in the history of rap), Keith concluded his varied and entertaining set to a round of applause.

Rosy Carrick - Blahblahblah - October 2014 - Stamped.jpg

       Next to the stage was Rosy Carrick, a strong character with arrestingly bright blonde hair, alert eyes and a big smile, who quickly abandoned the careful, affable air which had underpinned Keith’s set in favour of a presence that was shockingly blunt by comparison, though enjoyable nonetheless. Snatching the attention of the room to relay some unexpected menstrual revelations and kick-start her roller coaster introduction, Rosy continued in her uniquely jarring vein, leading the audience down murky, meandering corridors of unusual yet compelling content. With topics including trainspotters, seduction, Russia, time machines, Twix bars and her PHD topic/crush on poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (“v-sexy… although he’s not alive any more”), Rosie made a markedly memorable impact over the course of a relatively small set. Somewhat stunned though indeed entertained by the poet, the audience clapped appreciatively for her intriguing performance.

       As smooth a presence as Rosy was striking, Richard ‘Dingo’ Dingwall steered the evening in an altogether more chilled direction. With Dingo briefly visiting Bristol as part of the recent ‘Jamaica Rising’ series of events in the city, Blahblahblah host Anna had seized the opportunity to add the travelling wordsmith into the evening’s schedule as a surprise for those attending. Complete with enchanting patois (though at Dingo’s suggestion, somewhat slowed down for the non-tuned ear), he delivered a charismatic and funny performance that earned him an encore. Though occasionally still leaving the audience playing catch-up owing to his accent and occasional colloquialisms, his hypnotic flow, exotic tales and confident presence made his brief appearance an unexpected highlight.

       After a brief intermission, it was the turn of native Londoner Tim Wells to take the helm. Equally strong in both accent and in presence, Tim was an interesting dichotomy to behold. With his short-sleeved, chequered shirt revealing forearms branded with old-skool tattoos and an underlying hint of menace lingering in his demeanour, he seemed an unlikely proponent of wordplay. His able material and sharp wit quickly demonstrated both passion and skill though, and his talent was more than enough to endear him to those present, who enjoyed the quality of his work irrespective of the coercive swagger that interwove his tones.

       Embracing his inner ‘geezer’ (which didn’t seem too difficult a task), Tim performed pieces in which he outlined the gauntlet that’s presented to those that dare to date his daughter, expressed a frustration with the 'hipsters' that personify the gentrification of his adored hometown, and offered a forthright response to poorly-financed invitations to perform at festivals, ‘£20 but I get to watch Mumford and Sons? F*ck off.’
       By way of the horrifying reality of festival loos, clashes of class with an early girlfriend’s well-to-do family and a further breadth of topics, tones and emotions in subsequent pieces, Tim eventually gravitated back towards the subject of London. With the bitter theme of gentrification revisited through the remainder of his set, his resentment was clearly evident. Highlighting the actions of the most grating perpetrators (the experimental artists, the trendy burger bars and with particular vehemence, the hipsters), Tim’s performance offered an impassioned and fascinating first-hand insight into the changing ethos, demographic and day-to-day life of his capital city.

       As enjoyable as his set was throughout, it was often the personal investment and authenticity he brought to the London-centric pieces which took the limelight, whether the dark dips into Ray Winstone-esque tales of the underworld or his fiercely concise analysis of the 2011 riots. Receiving a great round of applause from the Bristol crowd, Tim’s next visit will no doubt be an eagerly anticipated one, as will those of his well-received peers.

       Another great evening of impressive diversity, Blahblahblah’s eclectic programming succeeded not just in its achievement of such breadth, but more importantly, it succeeded in the depth of quality that was present throughout.


Darren Paul Thompson

Photography: George Dallimore


Anna Freeman / Keith Jarrett / Rosy Carrick / Dingo / Tim Wells


Blahblahblah: Website / Facebook / Bristol Old Vic