I was asked to read at the launch night of Naked Lungs a Birmingham based spoken word night in the heart of the city. This happened nearly two weeks ago and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect; spoken word nights can be a bit hit and miss and this was the first one. I’d met Chris Baker two weeks before and we’d chatted about what he was after, I was impressed with his enthusiasm and laid back approach to getting a project like this off the ground and promised him some stuff for the launch magazine. The magazine was the clincher really, not only would Naked Lungs be a spoken word night but it would also comprise a magazine that would feature work from all the writers on that night’s bill.
The Greenhouse Cafe is the venue for Naked Lungs and a mighty fine venue it is at that. Situated in the Custard Factory, the beating heart of Birmingham’s creativity, it is cool without having to try too hard, they do good green tea which was enough for me to give it a ringing endorsement.
The bill for that night was Seasick Fist, Annie-J, Garrie Fletcher (me,) Ben Jones and Keiran Goddard. I didn’t know any of them and I was that busy leading up to it that I didn’t even Google them, if I had of done I might have had an inkling of what a treat I was in store for.
Seasick Fist is young, vibrant and almost electric with words. He attacks the mic at such a rate that you’d be forgiven for thinking that someone had gone crazy with a diction machine gun, cutting down the rows of onlookers with nothing more than well aimed words. Annie-J is a wonderful poet that reflects upon her grandmothers courting rituals whilst extolling the virtues of playing Tomb Raider, both of these proved to be insightful and very funny. Both these performers had recounted their thoughts almost entirely from memory so I let the side down by having to read direct from my story, well, it is nearly 3000 words. I went down well and was really pleased with the crowd’s reaction to my story ‘Kowalski’ which is a tale of an elderly Polish man befriending a young Pakistani boy. Keiran Goddard was the last on and treated us to a fine selection of poems from his next collection, tales of rag-and-bone men, lost loves and city streets, which I shall definitely be checking out. However, for me, the evening was stolen by the marvellous Ben Jones and he wasn’t even in the room! Ben found himself double booked and unable to attend so he sent along a Powerpoint and audio track to stand in for him. Ben is a philosophy lecturer at Halesowen College and the flyer had promised ‘Free form philosophy, live on stage.’ Ben’s presentation, even though it wasn’t live, was enthralling to say the least. For twenty odd minutes he kept us all hooked upon his every word as he ruminated upon the philosophy of masturbation, yes, wanking. A few people I’ve mentioned this to have looked at me aghast to say the least but it wasn’t sordid or cheap; it was well constructed, painfully funny and penetrating (no pun intended.) Yes, it really made you think about wanking.
Anyway, those wonderful guys at Naked Lungs have posted a video of snippets from the first evening with a gorgeous soundtrack. Check it out, see what you missed and make sure you’re at the next one.