It's Bilston Voices time of month again.
Last night's entertainment started off with a poet I hadn't seen before, Elaine Hickman-Luter. Her slightly hesitant start may have been due to nerves or, more likely, to the fact that she was performing with a broken arm while Jill Tromans stood at her side holding the poems ready to hand to her. She picked up quickly though and soon got into the swing of things adding tone and colour to her delivery. Her set was a very mixed bag of both styles and themes. Poems about trees and crocuses sat side by side with poems about moving to Mars or a friendly elf. Very traditional verse forms sat side by side with with much more modern and abstract material. She also had my favourite title of the night - A Day With An Abstract Seagull though I couldn't tell you what it was about if you gave me sixpence. I thought it was all very good but I liked the more traditional stuff a little better.
I had also never seen the second poet, Ness Tobin, doing what was only her second ever performance and making a pretty good job of it. Her poetry was mainly descriptive of people. Ms Together told of an encounter with a perfect mother. When You See Her, The Girl With Doc Martins and Rich Boys all painted vivid character portraits. Even Seen To Be Believed, ostensibly about biscuits, managed to sneak in a portrait of a compulsive biscuit eater. Occasionally her delivery missed the beat or mistimed the rhythm slightly so that the flow was interrupted but that can easily be forgiven in someone who has only read in public once before.
Finishing the first half was a Bilston Voices regular, Peter Hill. He gave us a nice change of pace with a very funny story of a conversation between a grandfather and his young granddaughter in which she gradually tore holes in his story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff with the true logic of a child. It was a clever piece producing lots of chuckles and some laugh out loud moments. He accompanied it with a nice poem, allegedly true, about the time that his wife painted his favourite garden bench bright pink. It was funny and very well delivered.
After the Break Silvia Millward was back for another Bilston Voices reading. I've watched with interest her developing performances and she gets better every time. Her selection of material was good but more importantly she seems more relaxed every time she appears and her introductions to the poems are now far more natural and less forced. The poems themselves are very evocative of time and place. Whether describing childhood holidays, lorries sliding about on the ice or the contents of her trinket box she manages to create a genuinely atmospheric mood.
The final artist of the night, Simon Lee, I encountered for the first time last week at the Love Slam. I'd liked him well enough then with his two well crafted and rather funny poems but he made good use of the longer format with a series of humourous verses with an almost (but not quite) rapping use of rhyme and rhythm. A poem about a banker making excuses was followed by one about not wanting to dance and another about appearing on the X-Factor. One poem, The Waiting Game, was more serious in subject but maintained the rhythmic style. A fine performance to round off another fine night.