So it’s a music festival, with poetry! Love this collaboration between Cheltenham based festivals as last night I got on the open mic at Chapel Arts to experience the festival vibe…
It was a lovely evening’s entertainment too in the gallery space of Chapel Arts, with woodcut seascapes surrounding the performance space and some high quality poetry and wordsmithing thrown into the mix. Anna Saunders, who heads up the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, was on hand to compere the evening and introduce a long list of open mic performers, nestled in between the two headline acts.
Opening the night was Tyler Keevil. Tyler is a novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer from Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of three award-winning books: Fireball, The Drive, and Burrard Inlet and he shared with us a lovely piece of flash fiction, together with an extract from The Drive. Tyler studied English and Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia, and while there took part in an exchange program that brought him to Lancaster University. After graduating, he lived in Prague for a time, before returning to the UK on a work visa, and eventually settling in Mid Wales. There he got a job with Theatr Powys, a theatre in education company, and at the same time began submitting his stories to various periodicals. Since then, he has received several awards for his short fiction and filmmaking. He writes both literary and genre fiction, and his work has appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies. Check out more from Tyler on his website:- Tyler Keevil
Bohdan Piasecki was the poet headliner who served up a lovely set of poetry in the second half. I have seen Bohdan perform a full set just once before, but I had forgotten how funny he is when setting context for his poems and then how moving and emotional his poetry is as a counter to the humour. He talks about family history, the meaning of home and place and delivers it with an engaging and original style. When he breaks into Polish halfway through a poem, it loses nothing of it’s meaning or imagery, but instead reminds us of upbringing and diversity, themes which underpin Bohdan’s work. Bohdan formed the first poetry slam in Poland in 2003 and since then has been touring and performing poetry all over the world. If there’s a festival, the chances are you will find him in it and when he’s not there, he’s being featured on The Verb (Radio 3) or Poetry Please (Radio 4). A brilliant performer and always worth seeing again and again.