The Poetry Kit
Open Floor Events in Merseyside – David Martin
Merseyside is a seething hotbed of poetry and open floor nights. It is one of the few areas where if you wanted you could perform several nights per week through the month in different venues and for different organizers, so just to give describe each of the venues and try to give a flavour of each.
Perhaps the best known venue is The Third Room at the Everyman Bistro in Hope Street, Liverpool. This is a room which has been in used as a venue for many years. In fact its predecessor used to ring to the voices of the Liverpool Poets back in the 1960’s and it has been used for a number of special events as well as the regular open floor event which is on the first Wednesday of each month. The venue is intimate, it is after all the “Third Room” of the Bistro and tables are moved round to create a stage area on poetry night. This event is organized by the Dead Good Poets who are also the biggest name in Liverpool Poetry boasting amongst their ranks, David Bateman and Jim Bennett who regularly perform as part of the open floor event. On the third Wednesday Dead Good Poets sponsor a guest night and bring some of the biggest names in the UK to perform here, this is sometimes supported by an open floor or more usually by a local poet.
On the first Monday of each month at Stamps Café in Crosby there is another open floor event. The event usually has a guest reader and is open to poets and singer-musicians who are happy to perform in an intimate setting.
Both of these events welcome newcomers and the audiences are friendly, but for the nervous newcomer either of the Borders Bookshop events are ideal. Jim Bennett’s Poetry Night at Border Books in Ellesmere Port has been running for several years and is held on the second Thursday of the month. A prior booking can be made for people who want to be sure of a reading spot, or take a chance and just turn up on the night. This event has some of the major names in North West poetry as regular readers and is usually hosted by Jim Bennett. Occasional guests are also invited and this can be someone very well known or a new name being given a showcase opportunity. (email firstname.lastname@example.org for details)
A similar event is held at Borders Books in Speek, on the third Thursday of the month. This is a new site and is organized by Beryl C. Phillips and Pat Fearon (who perform as Still Life) and Graham Holland (email email@example.com for details) It has only been running for a few months at the time of writing and the organizers are working hard to build an audience.
On the same night in Birkenhead (please see listings at Poetry Kit for the venue) the Wirral Ode Show opens their doors to an open floor event. The team behind the Wirral Ode Show has been forced to change their venue several times andthis has caused the regular audience to diminish. It is a good open floor event though and everyone who turns up is made to feel welcome. The Wirral Ode Show run an annual slam which is hotly contested by many of the Merseyside poets.
There are a number of other events held regularly in Liverpool and many cafés and clubs hold poetry nights from time to time. One of my favorite venues is the Egg Café which has hosted many poetry nights although there is no regular event at the moment.
There are many opportunities to perform at poetry events in Merseyside and for someone looking to develop their skills and get audience experience it is one of the best places to be.
For a history of Open Floor and poetry in Liverpool read “Gladsongs and Gatherings“ edited by Stephen Wade (pub Liverpool University Press 2002)