I felt it was only right to dedicate this weeks post to saying goodbye to my beloved spoken word night! I don’t think I will really be able to convert all I have to say into a blog post but I will try. I have ran Rhymes & Records; a monthly spoken word night for the last two years, and boy, what a journey it has been! The night’s intention was to feature some of the most exciting artists in the northwest with a balance between emerging and established artist. I wanted people in Liverpool to have access to some incredible artists from further afield while providing a platform and paid opportunities for local artists at the same time.
For those who don’t know, Rhymes & Records was held in The Jacaranda, an iconic music venue in Liverpool. The first place that The Beatles ever played to be exact! It’s one of those venue’s that just has an air of coolness to it, without being pretentious. Young or old, everyone seems to have memories of The Jac and with many bars and restaurants seeming to be in flux in this city, it’s great to have this old listed building still around; well used and well loved. When it first began I remember feeling so nervous. I was convinced that despite there being some interest on Facebook, no-one would show up. I wasn’t sure that I was doing anything different enough to warrant interest and there were already so many poetry nights happening in the city. I triple messaged friends, deterrmind to fill the room somehow, so what if my friends weren’t into poetry? I needed to make sure it wasn’t me alone in a room, with a mic for two hours. It turns out that I didn’t actually need to emotionally blackmail my friends and family into attending because our first ever night was sold out to the point that we had to start turning people away! A few months later me and the venue decided to move from the quirky second floor record store into their bigger space; the basement downstairs. For the next two years, the basement of The Jac was our poetry home!
I would say the night was most known for it’s sense of community. There were many valuable insights and stories shared in that room; things that were important for the speaker to say and things that were important for the audience to hear. I know that many people considered this a safe space where they could open up and for that I am very grateful. The support people showed one-another, especially new performers was really heartwarming. Throughout the months, I’ve seen people grow in confidence with their performance and body language. I’ve seen young people too shy to hold eye contact have a room erupt into laughter from their on-stage banter, I’ve seen people use their words to get to grips with all the happenings in their lives and make sense of the challenges they face. I’ve seen poetry become a form of solace for many people. Without going on a tangent I see all of this as absolute proof of the transformational power of the arts and the importance of it especially in this current climate.
I want to say thank you firstly to everyone who’s headlined: Bradley Thompson, Mark Mace Smith, Matty “Delboy” Delaney, Joy France, Steven Duncan, Miko Berry, Adam Baird, Ged Thomson, Ann Briggs, Rose Condo, Genevieve L Walsh, Lisa Bower, Callan Waldron-Hall, Helen Tookey, Victoria Sanchez, Christina Thatcher, Ciaran Hodgers, Maz Hedgehog, Kieran King, Jake Wildhall and Tryone Lewis! A huge thank you to everyone who open mic-ed, to The Jacaranda for supporting us and everyone who came along just to watch. A big thank you goes out to anyone who’s helped me: take money on the door, came early to help set up, featured us in an article, filmed, took photographs, live tweeted, brought their friends, written something for the theme, bought an artists book, advertised on Facebook, written press releases or jumped in to lend a hand in any other way. I appreciated and took note of everything you’ve all done. A big thank you to FACT Liverpool for the collaboration on the Unfold exhibition, to Liverpool Pride for letting us host an LGBTQ+ themed night and to Writing on The Wall for introducing some immensely talented young people to the night and for choosing us to host their book launch. Lastly, to the people who patiently listened to all my plans and helped me over the hurdles, thank you.
Not everyone knows this, but I never intended to set up a poetry night. I was originally online looking for a venue to hold a workshop in. I had a manager show some interest and during the phone call, I realised that there had been a miscommunication. I had wanted a room to host a one-off workshop, they wanted someone to host a monthly poetry night. In that moment I realised I had a choice. It would have been so easy to explain that we must have got our wires crossed, but something in me decided to grab the opportunity. I came off the phone a little shocked at myself to say the least “so I guess I run a poetry night now” – I remember thinking. I think I may have burst out laughing at that point. Sometimes the best opportunities come out of sheer fluke, or comprise of things you never even knew you wanted to do.
I have really enjoyed working on this night and I can honestly say it’s something I’m very proud of. Rhymes & Records helped me grow as a person and an artist. I have so many ideas for exciting events I want to create next and I know that the ethos and spirit of Rhymes & Records will be infused into all of them in some way! Here’s to celebrating a fantastic two years, and to all the new experiences that are just around the corner for all of us.