Event review: Reverb poetry evening at Boxpark, Tuesday 4th April

By - Friday 21st April, 2017

Surprised by words – and I wasn’t the only one

Photo author’s own.

The night began badly but got better. The first bit wasn’t the performers’ fault.

Reverb is a monthly poetry performance event that takes place in Boxpark’s BoxBar. Unfortunately, it started almost half an hour late – so while they set up the mics, I crouched on a crate for twenty-seven minutes in a venue I usually avoid like a yeast infection. If I’d known there’d be a wait, I’d have gone somewhere – anywhere – else.

That’s not, by the way, because I think poetry doesn’t belong in unlovely places, or should be reserved for drawing rooms or the quadrangles of elite places of study. I think the opposite – that like Croydon’s art scene, it should be taken to the streets to work as an empowering, democratising force. It’s just that this dingy, urinal-chic drinking unit pisses me right off.

But we launched at last, and an hour-and-a-half later, I’d had an interesting time.

The young performers shared a love of words. The audience caught it, and the space filled with a genuinely enthusiastic appreciation of the lines they read and recited to us. A few drinkers at the bar – who’d presumably chosen to meet there – why? Just, why? – and presumably also hadn’t known that Reverb was on when they arrived, also ended up surprised by words and quite caught up in it all.

I started off the evening feeling flat, and ended up pretty spiky

What with the storm-drain gloom and the steady drinking required to take the edge off being in BoxBar, my notes are a bit confused. But there were great lines with tight observation. Some of what we heard was raw material – but where there’s passion, there’ll be work, and where there’s work, mastery can follow. I ended up admiring the performers for daring to be out there and taking emotional risks. That’s the way to be young.

The open-mic performers were Mo, Sugar J, Jason and Jumi. Featured were Caleb Femi and Assumpta Ozua. Star of the show was Sarah Aluko with her poem: ‘I Must Be Many, Many Women For You’, about the demands men make of women, and yet… men don’t seem to know. It depressed me that our difference in age is such that Sarah could be my daughter – yet this is still something we’ve shared. But she brightened the murk with her spark of resistance, the way you resist before compromise steals in and you shrug and make do. “I must swallow an hourglass for dinner and spit out perfect abs” was my line of the night.

Based on what I heard and on nothing else, I’d go to another Reverb poetry evening. I started off feeling flat, and finished pretty spiky. It was definitely an up-do.

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • Patrick Blewer

    #protip for you. Go to the Cronxbar and buy as many as you can carry back to the boxbar. #winning.

    • lizsheppardjourno

      Staying put and hitting the warm Chardonnay #losing

      • darran leo king

        Liz Please tell us why you stop using Croydon Boxpark hashtags, after all the taxpayers paid 3 million & 160,000 per year and Croydon ended up with boxpark & boxparkcroydon & eatdrinkplay not worth a wank to use any of them,Please get your best mate Roger to explain why all Croydon boxpark hashtags are dead and thanks for blocking me on Twitter . have a good weekend and let us know when you are going Back to boxpark Scum .