Upcoming gigs

Upcoming Gigs

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Supporting Jollyboat, Knaresborough: 22nd June

Brig-Aid Fundraiser, Fruit, Hull: 23rd June

Slam Dunk, Hastings: 28th June

Word Club, Leeds: 29th June

Verse Matters, Sheffield, 5th July

Say Owt @ Deer Shed Festival, 21st July

Say Owt @ Great Yorkshire Fringe, York: 25th July

Working Title, Lancaster, 26th July

Nerd Punk, Edinburgh fringe @Banshee Labyrinth 19.50 13th August

Poetry Jam, Durham: 4th October

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

20.17 Blog #14: Better Watch Your Mouth

A few years ago, I did a tour with Jenn Hart, and we bonded over our love for Gravity Falls, Martha (she’s mostly bones) and radical left-wing politics.  She has a new collection out with Burning Eye Books, and I’ll repeat here what I said for the blurb:  “Jenn hart’s poetry is like a ferret.  It can be your best friend, or bite your face off.”

Jenn’s said she wanted her collection to be called ‘Urgh Men’ in reference to Jenn’s dedication to feminism.  Jenn is one of the fieriest people you could meet when it comes to women’s rights and representation.  She’s written highly important poetry in the form of Let Loose, Lucy and put on great gigs and events in Bristol.  So Jenn’s crusade against sexism would make ‘Urgh Men’ a fitting title for this collection.

But there is so much more to this collection than a men-hating agenda (though don’t worry, there’s plenty of righteousness).  Jenn’s poetry is defined by her own autobiographical experiences, and not the outside influence of dickhead men.

Jenn’s collection is her most revealing assortment of poems.  It’s poetry that goes beyond the surface and deep into Jenn’s history, world and personality.  Few poets allow themselves to be so open and human in this world of high-energy slam-style spoken word, stand-up gag poems or easy Things Are Bad rhetoric.  Jenn’s collection is refreshingly…Jenn.

The collection is a series of landscapes which make up Jenn’s world of women’s voices and experiences.  Adelaide Adams is a rolling account of smells, tastes and places, from whiskey to Balham, from cough tonic to the Pharmacy.  You can feel the sawdust in her hair.  So too does Lydia Bennet’s Cottage, a character from Pride & Prejudice, conjure beautiful and sad images of moth balls, chamber pots, geraniums and the plum tree.  There’s a sweet melancholy to these poems, Life At The Manor tells of Jenn’s dysfunctional family of housemates and when that friendship starts to break down.

If Life At The Manor is an sad account of the last year or two of Jenn’s life, 83A Gordon Avenue, Circa 2009 is a powerful anecdote of friendship, a warm piece about adulthood.  04/07/2008 is the exact opposite, a cold meeting between Jenn and a man who is right resigned firmly in her past.

Coral Roads is the perfect end to the collect and a perfect summery:  “I am terrified of being impressed with someone else’s lifetime as they help me cross the road.”  It’s here you realise all her pieces are about friendship, from the fictional characters of her precious novels, to the people in her past, the people in her present.

As a fellow punk poet, it’s easy to understand punk through the male prism of John Cooper Clarke and Attila The Stockbroker.  The easy rhymes, simple politics and scattergun delivery.   But here Jenn is proving that punk also means being honest and open.  Autobiographical.  Raw.

This collection is a magnificent patchwork of people, voices, places and emotions.  Funnily enough, it’s the smells, textures and tastes that really stand-out.  When you read this book (ideally before bed with a cup of camomile tea) you can breathe in this world, all neatly stacked in 31 pages.

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