All in all it was a really good evening, Chris and his sidekick 'Clipboard' doing the honours, and getting everyone involved with the clapping for his 'The cow is the mother of the milk' opener which most of the audience knew or quickly picked up, and a wacky competition for the Poetry Island advent calendar - which involved everyone writing a preferably rhyming short sentence to fill the empty days, of the festive variety. Incredibly, my rather obvious spur-of-the-moment entry (sitting on the holly is an act of folly) drew the most laughs, and I won a kid's advent calendar from Poundland, plus some Belgian chocolates! I was startled (never having been one to win raffles etc.), but it certainly added some extra laughs and audience participation to the evening.
It was an excellently put together evening, and I was interested in the contrasts and similarities between it and Taking the Mic...both having committed and energetic hosts, both having an emphasis on performance (rather than just read) poetry, having other acts (eg; comedy, music, etc.) and which are intended to be an evening's entertainment selling itself to people who want a good cheap night out rather than a writer's circle or poetry group/open mike for readers. But the Blue Walnut perhaps has a little more of an emphasis on comedy/comic poetry? Just an impression. It was certainly a big hit with the audience, and while there were poets there who I recognized as previous headliners etc., a lot of the audience seemed to be just that - audience rather than poets. And, just as with Taking the Mic, that's a really good sign of a night that really reaches out to people!
The Blue Walnut itself as a venue is a charming cafe (if small when coping with larger audiences!) with a tiny nickleodeon cinema at the back with delightful vintage upholstered seating. They serve excellent fairtrade coffee ('Origins') complete with star shaped shortbread biscuits!
Thanks to Chris for organizing it and putting everything together so well and making things go with such a bang, to Matt Harvey for a great performance, and to Liv and all the supporting poets too, for making up a high quality night of performance poetry.