Museum of Broken Relationships Slam

The blog has been rather quiet of late for a few reasons, the main one being that it’s quiet on the poetry front this month. I’ve only been to a couple of gigs, though I’m going to have a surfeit of shows when I head up to the Fringe on Wednesday. Other than that, as I’m responsible for the blog over at Apples and Snakes this one has been slightly neglected. I did write a post about Edinburgh there which is worth checking out!

So just a quick update about a fun gig I was at last night. There’s an exhibition at the moment at the Tristram Bates Theatre on Tower Street (just off Seven Dials) that showcases objects from relationships that have ended. It’s quite cool, with every piece telling a story – some are heartbreaking, others hilarious. It’s a nice idea and well presented, so I highly recommend going to have a look if you find yourself in the area! My favourite object was the English-Armenian dictionary that told the story of a political criminal hiding out with his lover. They change the objects periodically, and your ticket is valid for a week, so one to come back to I think!

This was the backdrop to The Museum of Broken Relationships Poetry Face-off! I had originally been down for an open mic spot, but due to a drop out I was asked by host Curious to fill in on the slam. After the excellent Alex Iamb’s feature set (my first time seeing him – a fantastic, funny and moving poet) we got down to round one. Anna Le, Amy Acre, Peter Hayhoe, Michelle Madsen, Captain of the Rant and I performed some heartbreak-type poems before being ushered off into the museum itself to write a new piece whilst the open mic happened. We had thirty minutes or so to write something in response to the exhibition – perhaps about one or more of the objects and art pieces that were on display, or perhaps a more general response to the theme. The museum is in the theatre space itself, so I decided to write about the tech box and fire safety information signs.

We came back to the café for the second half and the second round of the slam. I went up first, fairly pleased with my piece (reproduced below – as expected, it needs some work!). The quality of the new writing was really very high, with Anna Le, Captain of the Rant and Amy Acre’s pieces in particular impressing the audience. Amy and the Captain went to the final, a head-to-head freestyle in which hate (Captain) and love (Amy) battled it out. After some poetical words from Amy (and some less poetical faux-insults from Captain of the Rant) Amy was literally crowned the winner. A shout out to Vanessa Kisuule too, who won the open mic with her brilliant piece Red Ribbon, and many thanks to Curious who hosted with humour, style and aplomb! A great gig with a wide range of poetry and lots of laughs thrown in.

A quick mention too about the Vorticism exhibition currently on at Tate Britain: it’s absolutely fantastic. The visual arts side of it is exhilarating, particularly the sculpture by Jacob Epstein and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, but it’s worth going to for the poetry too: Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot all featured in BLAST, the Vorticist magazine.

That’s it from me till I’m back from the Fringe – have a happy end of August!

– Dan

Control Room

Control room: strictly no entry unless authorised.
This door must be kept locked at all times.

That was the sign that hung on the doorway
to our relationship.

One day I went up to it
pushed the door slightly
and it opened
light spilling out like hope
or that bit in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I forced my way in
finding the discarded detritus of theatre:
the make believe scenery
the fake props
the masks, wigs and make-up
that transform people into actors.

You stumble in after me
eyes wide in the spotlight.
Here, neither of us know our lines
and we’ve missed our cues anyway:
the roles we play those of actors.

No sound, now: the machinery is broken
and the speakers muted.

One of us shouts “fire”
and there’s a rush from the stalls
people running for the ailes
like blood pumping out of ventricles
bursting through the aorta and into the air.

We look from one another to the other door in the room
the door marked Fire Exit – Push Bar to Open.

My eyes drift to the Fire Action Information sign
that hangs nearby

(it reads)
Sound the alarm.
Attack the fire if possible.
Leave the building.
Close all doors behind you.

Do not take risks.
Do not return.

I consider its advice
reach for the bar, push
and exit.