Published: 18 March 2014

A Lovely Word: Insight into Liverpool’s open mic poetry scene

Poetry

English undergraduate, and member of the School of the Arts Student Press Team, Fred Johnson, shares his thoughts about Liverpool’s recently launched poetry open mic night at Mello Mello in the Ropewalks:

“Liverpool’s cultural underground is a vibrant and gorgeous thing, but it can be a little difficult to uncover and engage with. But when ‘A Lovely Word’ – the new outlet for Liverpool’s poets – opened up at the equally lovely Mello Mello this past Monday, I was sufficiently excited and moved to attend.

“Liverpool has a rich history of poetry, with its most famous and characterful movement being the Mersey Sound of the 1960s, pioneered by Roger McGough, Brian Patten, and Adrian Henri. These beatnik-influenced poets contributed to the cultural utopia that was 60’s Liverpool, and helped construct the environment that birthed The Beatles.

“Of course, poetry isn’t what it once was and has involuntarily become a more esoteric art form,  experienced by fewer and fewer people, so it is great to see the scattered poets of Liverpool coming together to perform slam, beat, and spoken word poetry at a local independent bar.

“’A Lovely Word’ is set to be a monthly event now. This first outing was organised by Paddy Hughes and hosted by local poet Alison Down, and I think it is fair to say it was a big success.

“Considering poetry has a far more subdued profile in the city than say, music or film, the number of people that managed to cram into Mello Mello was impressive. I managed to snag a stool (the tables were long since gone) but half-an-hour in and people were already sat on steps and lining the floors.

“Of course, a poetry open mic is only as good as the poets involved, but any fears of there only being a handful of people willing to perform were swiftly cast aside as enough poets signed up to necessitate two acts and a break in the middle.

“Style, quality, tone, and subject matter varied massively between the performing poets, making for a diverse evening that never got boring. As one poet started the evening performing a touching and comical piece about an old Nokia phone that swiftly turned into a nostalgic account of his childish experiences with his first girlfriend, another launched into a sharp and clever satire of capitalism. Another tore into modern monogamy, while another still (my personal favourite) told a starkly observed and moving tale in verse about his Aunt’s Alzheimer’s.

“These poems were but a few examples of the verse shared.  Such was the quality of the evening that I didn’t even mind paying more than I would normally have liked for Mello Mello’s beer, and I will certainly be back next month to see what new material emerges from Liverpool’s literary underbelly.”

By Fred Johnson

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