I have been trying to get to Stirchley Speaks for a few months now, but the alignment of the planets, car problems, a clashing diary and a whole load of other stuff always seemed to get in the way. But last night I was able to jump on the train to Bourneville and make it for their 2nd Birthday celebrations…
The evening epitomised the thing I really love about spoken word events. It’s all about bringing people together in a shared space, chewing the fat, reading and listening to poetry, supporting a local small business and feeling like a part of some kind of movement for good. Last night was a special night for Stirchley Speaks, because it was celebrating it’s 2nd Birthday, but there seemed to be more to it than just a date in time. Callum summed it up in the way that he thanked those previously involved, as well as those now involved in putting the night on and keeping it running. It has a real sense of inclusion and community that some other events lack and I felt a part of that, even though it was my first time there. So great atmosphere to start with and great cake to finish it off!
The format was simple. A series of open mic performances around two headline acts. A couple of breaks to recharge the glasses and have a chat with new friends and Callum holding it all together in between things. They started a new initiative of having a pronto poet – a poem written on the night by a chosen poet based on shout outs from the crowd. Callum took up the challenge very nicely, but one of the open mic performers also jumped in with a poem on the topics too – great stuff! I have seen this at one other open mic event, so perhaps it is going to be the next big thing. You saw it here first ladies and gentlemen!
The headliners were Joe Cook and Aliyah Hasinah. I really liked both poets in equal measure. There was a nice relaxed feeling to both sets, almost like being in a conversation, but with poems thrown in for fun. Different styles of course – Joe is very much about the direct message, the easily accessible narrative of his words, with humour and hip hop influences at the fore. Aliyah wraps up her stories in more traditional, crafted forms, the narrative lead through imagery and imagination to get to the source of her poems. Both bring beautiful examples of the use of language and speech to get distinct messages out there, asking you to question the world around you or just soak up the visual pictures being delivered through their verse. Two young and inspirational poets that are well worth seeing time and time again.
I will definitely be back to Strichley Speaks. Great venue, atmosphere, spirit, poetry and cake.