Hidden in Stour Street lies The Marlowe Kit. On the night of the 21st of November, this small intimate building hosted a poetry slam. As I entered the imposing building, after searching around for quite some time, I realised that the impression the building creates and the atmosphere are nothing alike. Inside, if you turn left right as you walk through the large wooden door, you discover disco lights, a DJ and around 12 long benches. As I walk through the benches to find a seat, I notice a small stage and some paintings which matched the relaxed atmosphere but not the architecture of the building. Nevertheless, the show started at 8pm and lasted 2 hours.
Suddenly a figure showed up on the stage, Henry Maddicott, the organiser of the event. He also introduced the performers and the rules of the game. There are nine poets who will read or recite their poem. They have three minutes per poem and the audience is given a few small white boards to rate them. They will rate on content, delivery and audience reaction, the grading starting from 1 to 10. From what I viewed on that night, there was a wide range of poets with differing backgrounds, ages, stage comfort, audience interaction and subjects approached. I have heard poems about the death of a husband, about self-love, the worth of a woman and a daughter, relationships, a dedication to the three working girls murdered in Bedford, about a dog misbehaving at dinner, all wrapped up in figurative language. What made the whole event quite vexing is the fact that the ambiance is in direct opposition to the heavy themes that are hinted in the poems. There is an incredible amount of energy that the poets transmit once they are on stage, and I felt their nervousness, joy, exuberance, fear and liberation.
This event also had two special guests, Helen Seymour and Hannah Silva. Considered two important figures in the world of literature, their art is quite difficult to grasp at a first glance. Helen Seymour is known for her surreal humour while Hannah Silva is acknowledged for her sound poetry, which she performed that night. There was a nice engagement with the public, which I found quite positive and supportive.
If you enjoy a relaxed environment with various poetry then this is the place for you. However, if you enjoy more formal meetings this might not be your cup of tea. Tickets are £10 and can be bought from the Marlowe Theatre’s website.