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Springboard Festival - in the Spotlight

Alison Manning

The Springboard Festival, Criterion Theatre, Coventry, runs until Saturday 1 April.

Review of Day 5 by Alison Manning.

The opening of Day 5 of the Springboard Festival at the Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon, Coventry, brought together a new group of poets, The Word from the Floor. Each was hand-picked by Coventry poet laureate Emilie Lauren Jones for this occasion, and I was one of them.

Rewind a few weeks, freshly rejected from other opportunities, it was a delightful surprise to be offered the chance to join this group and perform at the festival, under the tutelage of Emilie and festival organiser Andrew Sharpe. We were each given three minutes of performance time, selected a poem or two each, shared them with the group, ordered ourselves, learnt warm up techniques and, being in a theatre setting, rehearsed with the precision of a play, memorising our poems where possible.

Thus, it was that the initial disparate group of poets, spanning a few decades between us, formed into a cohesive whole with a slick and varied show, complete with epithet introductions to demonstrate the talent Emilie had identified in us, nurtured to performance level.

We performed cabaret-style, round tables and chairs, called forth by Emilie and standing where we were, distributed amongst the audience, almost like a flash mob of poets. Ok, so maybe the odd word slipped into a different order on the night in the nerves of being in the spotlight (I’m speaking for myself here!) but the beauty of performing our own work meant that (hopefully) no one noticed.

The poems ranged greatly in subject matter, reflecting on life, death, mental health, brain fog and the Turkish earthquake, though that makes them sound rather depressing. So perhaps I should add moths, the pitfalls of predictive text, the joys of snow, the naming of bread, arbitrary arson, saving lives, the therapeutic effect of poetry and not swimming in the sea, just to give you a more well-rounded impression of the depth and breadth of this group of emerging poets, encouraged out of the darkness into the spotlight.

The poetry seemed to be well received and The Word from the Floor are looking into staying together as a group of performance poets, namely: Christine Foxon, Emmanuel Erameh, Alison Manning, Scott Healy:Dangermouse, Cassandra O'Floresca, Dolly Osborne and Neslihan Ozar. So watch this space to see what happens next.

Jasmine Gardosi and Wes Finch

Second on the bill was a repeat of the hard-hitting play Small Hours, of which Elementary WhatsOn reviewed its opening performance on Saturday, the first day of the festival.

Finishing off the show was musician and poet Wes Finch, who performed several poems set to music, including several by ‘local boys’ Phillip Larkin and William Shakespeare. His original settings breathed new life and rhythm into the poems, creating a freshness in old words. Wes was joined by Birmingham poet laureate, Jasmine Gardosi and, despite them amazingly only meeting four hours earlier, they collaborated well with Wes backing Jasmine’s poetry on his guitar, bringing out the varied emotions of poems about the holocaust, trans rights, spring, and feeling purposeful, amongst other things. The haunting holocaust poem emphasised the differences with those things initially perceived as ordinary and the extraordinary acts that occurred to hide and protect people, such as the kinder transport.

Wes Finch

Wes got a rest when Jasmine switched to beat boxing, encouraging, but not obliging, the audience to stamp and clap with the rhythm, immersing us all in the poetry.

Springboard Festival continues until Saturday 1 April, so you still have time to catch some of its delights. More details are on their website:


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