Two years ago, when my partner had a new collection of poetry coming out, I took the publisher, John Lucas to The Guitar Bar (part of Bar Deux, near The Forest) and suggested that we had the launch there. The night was a roaring success and led to the Jazz and Poetry series that runs for ten months of the year, on the second Wednesday of every month, from 8 until late. Admission is currently free, with donations for the poets’ travelling expenses, and the evening always features at least an hour of classic jazz from Four In The Bar (with John Lucas on trumpet; Tony Elwell on clarinet; Ian Wheatley on guitar and Ken Eatch on bass). Here they are:
The first season featured poets like Helen Mort, Wayne Burrowes, Cliff Forshaw and Robin Vaughan-Williams, who hosted until he left the city. I took over running the evening with Pippa Hennessy and we’re now in the closing leg of the second season. Every night has three sets of readings. At around 8.30 we have short sets by emerging poets, who might be from the young Mouthy Poets group associated with Nottingham Playhouse, the Creative Writing programmes at one of the city’s two universities, or poets who belong to Nottingham Writers Studio, where Pippa is the development director and I’m a founding member. At around 9.10, the first featured poet appears, with the second on at 10. All readings last from 15 to 20 minutes and there’s jazz before, in between and after. We also have occasional guests performing songs, often from the folk tradition, most notably Nottingham legend, Al Atkinson. There are a huge number of videos on J&P’s facebook group which I would urge you to join. Not all poets are happy to see these on YouTube, but a few are, for the benefit of facebook refusers, and here’s a fine example, from earlier this year, Robert Etty reading ‘Samantha Can’t Believe It’.
The above gives you a flavour of the evening, which tends to be convivial, informal and conducive to conversation. So far this season we’ve also featured Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson, Matt Merritt, Jonathan Taylor, Simon Perril, Maria Taylor, Alan Baker, Gregory Woods, Rosie Garner, Nigel McLoughlin, Angela France, Kathryn Daszkiewicz, Rich Goodson, Cliff Yates and Andrew Taylor, plus many opening poets whose names I have neglected to record. The next session, on May 14th, will feature Jacqueline Gabbitas and, launching his first full collection, Andrew ‘Mulletproof’ Graves. On June 11th we have Rennie Parker launching her new Shoestring collection, and Matthew Clegg, whose North West East is, I think, one of the best collections of the year. Finally, on July 16th, launching her fine new collection Imagined Sons, Carrie Etter, along with other special guests to be announced. Note that this is a week later than usual, to avoid clashing with a world cup semi final. There you go. Advert over. If you live near Nottingham, do come along. And have a good Easter.