This is the first in a series of “Best Of” 2010 posts and what better way to kick it off than with the remarkable spoken word performers we have seen this year at the brownbread mixtape. Poets and prose writers alike were at the heart of the brownbread show and this list showcases the very best proponents and practitioners of the art in Ireland right now. No only do these performers inspire, they also electrify and elucidate that which swirls around us. The spoken word when done right is shamanistic & cathartic and truthfully each one of these performers gave us an experience like that when they performed this year. Click on the links below and relive some of that magic. So, without further ado, not in any specific order, we give you a baker’s dozen of the best moments in poetry and prose this year at the brownbread mixtape
1. Colm Keegan
Colm is quite simply one of our great Irish writers and he is one of our very favourite performers. He claims that his best ever gig was at the brownbread mixtape back in March of this year. He performed a new poem on the night that he had written specifically for the show called “Ireland is…” which was ridiculously good. [Since then he has recorded it and released it on iTunes as part of The Unruly Trinity collaborative project with Simon Quigley and Mark Cullen. Download it!] As the recording device was faulty on the night of the gig, we sadly have no useable footage of it and instead are posting the clip above from Colm’s first ever time performing at the brownbread mixtape last year when he recited his signature poem “The Crackle”. An amazing poem that captures the zeitgeist and wraps it up in Colm’s trademark hope for the city he loves! Unsurprisingly, Colm has been short-listed for the Sunday Tribune’s Hennessy X.O Literary Awards on three separate occasions (possibly even four). As well as being the current All Ireland Poetry Slam champion, he also finds the time every month to run the magical and hugely popular Nighthawks gig at the Cobalt Café with Stephen Kennedy (which is deadly). He also appears regularly as a reviewer on Arena arts show on RTE Radio 1. Talented bastard! Suffice it to say, Colm is the real deal and you’ll be learning his poems for the Leaving Cert if there is any justice. Find him and dig him. [Uiscebot Blog]
2. Stephen James Smith
Stephen performed on a couple of occasions during the year at the brownbread mixtape and every single time he knocked it out of the park. This rendition of his poem “The Gardener” was one of those amazing spine tingling recitals that he is so damn good at. Elder Roche’s understated piano accompaniment adds so much to the experience. It was one of those special nights were the hushed room really responded and hopefully that comes through in the video above. For those of you that don’t know Stephen, he is a brilliant performance poet and a bit of a legend in Dublin. Not only is he a former Cúirt International Literary Festival Grand Slam Poetry Champion, he is also the MC and organiser of the excellent weekly Glór Sessions in the International Bar. (If you haven’t been to the Glór Sessions on a Monday night yet, then ask yourself why not. It is free and attracts some of the best acts in Ireland and beyond.) Last year Stephen proudly represented Ireland at the Vilenica Literary Festival in Slovenia, this year he recited at a prestigious invitation-only Polish literary festival and he is currently recording an EP of Irish poems with the gifted musician Enda Reilly. Stephen is a truly hypnotic presence onstage and is consistently one of our most popular past performers at the brownbread mixtape. Make it your duty in 2011 to see him live. You’ll be glad you did. [Get more info at StephenJamesSmith.com]
3. Karl Parkinson
Karl is a poet that just demands the ears of a room. He has a langorous, direct style that takes in all the facets of a lived life and mixes them up with his love of popular culture. He has been described by the Evening Herald as “a beat poet who almost defies description; part Allen Ginsberg, part Snoop Dogg” and who are we to argue? This poem captures both his optimistic take on the world, as well as his ability to weave in strands of his many different influences. His chapbook “A Sacrament of song”, is currently available to purchase from Wurmpress and it is well worth your time and money. Karl has a point of view that is gaining an audience and it is easy to understand why. Seek him out. [Karl Parkinson on myspace]
4. Colm Liddy
Colm is a wonderfully witty, whimsical and lyrical prose writer. In person he delivers his stories with real understated humour and deft touches. Much like the gifted North Carolina humorist David Sedearis, he manages to make the everyday seem more real and more funny with every sentence. And for the full experience, much like Sedaris, the stories truly come alive in the live arena. The above story was one we heard Colm tell originally at Electric Picnic and it was no less engaging on this occasion at the brownbread mixtape. His Penguin published book “40 fights between husbands and wives” is similarly funny and touching and you really should buy it now!. Keep an eye out for his first novel early in 2011. [ColmLiddy.com]
5. Dave Lordan
Dave Lordan is a ball of energy and his poetry is a fiery, all-consuming experience. He stunned the brownbread mixtape crowd with his powerful poetry this summer with a series of poems that dipped into politics, religion, recession and personal experience. The performance of “Fearless” was classic Lordan. It was passionate, human & genuinely raucous and has been one of the most talked about moments of the year at the brownbread mixtape.His recent publication “Invitation to a Sacrifice” is an astonishing piece of work that unflinchingly captures the zeitgeist. On the page, Lordan is a master provocateur and ideas man. Onstage, he is a shaman who will take you to the places you never realised you wanted to go. See it and believe it. [Dave Lordan @ Salmon Poetry]
6. Edward Denniston
Edward is a terrific poet, hailing originally from Longford but based in Waterford for many years and none the worse off for it! His intelligent, thoughtful and inventive poetry truly captured our audience’s imagination at Downes Bar in Waterford in October of this year (as part of the Imagine Arts Festival). His introductory stories were as poetic and engaging as his poems and it was a true honour to have him perform on the brownbread mixtape stage. His website below contains an e-book with magnificent poems and we encourage you to take the time to read it. One of the best collections of this or any year. [EdwardDenniston.com]
7. Catherina Behan
Catherina is a poet who gives of herself so deeply and personally with each performance that it almost feels voyeuristic to see her perform. And by the same token she manages to bring you so close to her heart that you can’t help but feel that each poem is written just for you. On two occasions she has performed at the brownbread mixtape and each time she has wowed the crowd with her carefully constructed poems. “Happy Birthday to Me” was a poem we first heard at the Flat Lakes Festival this summer and it truly floored us. This particular performance is one of her very best. Alas, she is presently emigrating to Australia which is the Dublin spoken word scene’s loss, but with a bit of luck she will perform for us via the world wide web in the new year. Her voice is strong and we look forward to hearing it no matter where we find ourselves. [Catherina Behan on myspace]
8. Philip Lynch
Phil is a true gentleman and a genuine old-school bard. His poems capture the essence of the human condition and are peppered with humour, hope and melancholy. He is one of the poets that received the most warm responses of the year and it is easy to hear why. This poem “Progress” captured the audience’s imagination on the night and really showcases his lyricism. Phil performs regularly in Dublin at the many poetry events around the city and we strongly encourage you to take the time to listen to his measured and insightful poetry.
9. Niamh Bagnell
Niamh did a great performance at the brownbread mixtape at the start of this year and really endeared herself to the bubbly crowd. Her snappy poem “Without My Phone”, which we have shared here, has all of her trademark dry-humour and humanity. As well as regularly writing her wonderfully poetic blog, Various Cushions, she has also hosts the fantastic “Sunday Scrapbook” show on Liffey Sound FM that showcases contemporary writers and performers. Click the link and be prepared to spend hours in her poetic wonderland. [Various Cushions]
CAH-44 is a performance poet and one of the few true proponents of sound-poems in Dublin that we have come across. He is one of the regular hosts of “Tongue Box” spoken word night at the Cobblestone pub every month and is truly passionate about the spoken word. His chapbook “still beat / still beat” has recently been published by wurmpress at Wurm im Apfel and is well worth 3 of your euros. This poem, “For the Princess and her Pea” is taken from his performance earlier this year and is full of Cah-44’s trademark inventiveness and lyricism. Seek Cah-44 out in a live setting and experience his unique style for your self. [CAH-44 on myspace]
11. John Cummins
John is a truthful and genuine poet who imbues his performances with real humanity and sensitive slices of his life. His easygoing manner onstage is both warm & engaging and this performance of his poem “Stagefright” was one of many delights on the night. After a protracted absence from live performance, John is making a major return to the scene and we strongly encourage you to check him out. He is a true gentleman and a wonderful wordsmith worthy of your time. [John Cummins on myspace]
12. Brian Conaghan
Brian is a talented poet with a dazzling array of cleverly constructed, heartfelt and humorous poems. His performance earlier this year at the brownbread mixtape was one of those super moments of jaw-dropping coolness. It was a true showcase of his razor-sharp wit & lyrical abilities and this rendition of “Waiting for the Penny to Drop” was one of those magical, electric moments that lit up the room. He also performed the hilarious poem “Crazy C*nt” on the night and that is well worth a gander too. Keep an eye out for Brian as he is world class and his name is one that will undoubtedly cross your path again.
13. Stephen Walsh
Sometimes little surprises are the sweetest moments of the night. Stephen’s performance at the Imagine Festival in Waterford (which he had helped to organise, praise him) was one of those special moments conjured out of the ether that left the room mesmerised and satisfied. With the soft gentle tones of Elder Roche’s piano underpinning an absurd and authentic poetic exploration of working life, he captured our attention decisively and beautifully. The Munster Express said of the performance: “Stephen Walsh shone in a rant of a poem about refusing promotion in a business as life world”. True dat.
Special shout out: Erin Fornoff
Erin is a hip lady from the mountains of North Carolina and earlier this year she performed a blazingly engaging recital of the classic Shel Silverstein poem “The Perfect High”. The audience was electrified by her warm, goofy and giving performance of the dynamic, brilliant poem. At the brownbread mixtape christmas party she performed some of her own poems and held the room in stunned silence. You will hear her perform these and more in the new year at the brownbread mixtape. Until then, enjoy the wildly entertaining rendition of “The Perfect High”. Talent to burn so she has.
So that was the spoken word year that was. It was varied, wild, wondrous and eclectic in the way that any good mixtape should be. We throughly enjoyed every minute of it and we hope that you did too. Please share this page or the individual YouTube links with others if you dig them. And go out there and support live spoken word shows. They need you as much as you need them!
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