Image Courtesy of Events-Harry-Baker
Stepping into the Gulbenkian for its monthly poetry night, I was immediately engulfed in what seemed like a warm hug in the midst of a winter spell. Welcomed by a smiling host, I settled among the crowd of people cradling their beer glasses and coffee cups in anticipation of a show promised to be lyrical and comforting. The enclosed area within the cafe made for an intimate setting that guaranteed a captivating evening whilst still leaving enough room for people to mingle and come in and out without (in an introvert’s opinion) the discomfort that often looms over such social gatherings.
Kicking off the evening was nationally acclaimed slam-poet Harry Baker, who came in with a lines of his own before introducing a line-up of acts ranging from first timers to experienced poets, all sharing the same stage to sow together an evening filled with laughter, heartfelt poetry, empathetic smiles, and a few notes of the characteristic angst without which any slam-poetry session would be deemed incomplete. It was a welcoming stage for all those, old and young, beginners and professionals, to join in on an effort to share their experiences, both personal and worldly, and tune into connections that can often seem so difficult to uphold in this day and age.
Image Courtesy of Gulbenkian
Whilst the grouping was small, and the event staggered through late performers and a few awkward silences, the host was quick to jump in and keep the audience’s confidence through anecdotal recitations of poems about broken bones on Christmas eve and dinosaur t-shirts that stood through pivotal life events.
In all the spoken-word events I have attended, Speakeasy stood out in its ability to reintroduce the awkwardness and intimidation that goes hand-in-hand with performance as an opportunity to bring a sense of vulnerability that encapsulates both the audience and the stage members. Whether the poetry is geared to make you laugh in childhood reminiscence, or whether it borrows attention from your first heartbreak, credit goes to the host for creating a space where any expression is welcomed and the air in the room feels free of judgement. It was an honest evening in the company of strangers who formed a beautiful community of words out of shared experiences and comforting glances.
Speakeasy is a monthly opportunity to escape the stresses of routine and engage in an evening filled with new interactions and a guaranteed laugh.