Review: Dead Good Poets – Illuminations

Standing at the mic opposite a man in a Ghostbusters t-shirt, I wonder: what am I doing here? This thought runs through my mind as I quickly try to find words to rhyme with my assigned word: Tram. Can? Lamb? Sam? However, I doubt that proper nouns will be allowed. Surprisingly, they are and suddenly I am faced with a difficult decision: Pan or Fran. The man in the Ghostbusters shirt eyes me up. His attempts at ironic intimidation have failed, I have won the improv word game. I have won this battle of wits, this clash of consonants. Victorious, I take back my seat, settling myself down for more poetry.

Rewind and we’re outside the establishment, quarter past six. I’m late, fashionably so. I can already here the thin booms of the coarse microphone from ten feet away. Beside me, Pip grumbles once more. I like to think of myself as a convert to poetry, after years of school-boy analysis I have begun to see a different side to the literary form. We enter the Cafe, standing for a moment as we wonder where to sit in this packed place. Casually ushered, we take our places at the now full table. Pip sits opposite me, tapping his fingers on the wood. The poems begin.

It would be easy to miss Number Five. Almost tucked away in the coves of Blackpool, this lovely Cafe played host to the Dead Good Poets on Friday. The Blackpool Illuminations was the topic for the poets attending, however, subjects varied.ย  One moment, I pondered over poverty and the futility of currency, another moment my ears pricked to the horrors of vampires. Often funny and poignant, these poems were always entertaining.

What I can gleam from most positive interspersions of the illuminations, from that night, was a sense of nostalgia and childhood: a childish, energetic leap at the thought of the seaside town being lit up in beautiful illumination. This would have leaned dangerously close to the cockles of my heart if it were not for the verses from the next few artists who spoke about the annoyance of chavs, the pain of dentistry and a meditation on the hurt of childhood.

Pip could no longer tap his agitated fingers; a row of Coke cans lay before us, a bottle of J2O and countless glasses. During this break from the poetry, I had an opportunity to look around the room, properly. As an outsider it was interesting looking in on The Dead Good Poets. I am familiar with the Dead Good Blog but seeing the poetry performed, spoken, was a refreshing point of view, for me. Another person came up to the microphone, shaking sheet in one hand, ready to speak their art. And another poem was recorded into the black box that lay beside the bar, ready to be broadcast on community radio. We entered the last half-hour, the tone suddenly changed and the illuminations slowly faded away.

Outside Number Five, we began to make our journey into town. Suddenly I’m faced with a stream of colourful lights, for a moment the cars are invisible. The illuminations are ahead of me and, after hours of poetic interpretation, I wonder: what are they really like?


Lancashire Dead Good Poets run free poetry workshops at Blackpool Central Library between 11am and 1pm on the last Saturday of the month.ย  Their open mic events run from 6pm to 9pm on the first Friday of each month.ย  Their blog is updated daily.

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