Rhyme and Reason – Putting the Performance in Poetry

Originally published by The Bath Magazine on 18/11/2015.

On a Tuesday evening in a student’s union bar, students and graduates gathered to read poetry. It’s called Rhyme and Reason, aka RaRand the open-mic event is run by Bath Spa University students Nick Compton, Billie Stubley, Hattie Parker and Harriet Lambert. 

The atmosphere of the venue was exciting; new poets jittery with nervous energy and more seasoned poets eager to try out new material on the crowd. The tables in front of couches facing the stage were populated by drinks and pots of chips, a crowd favourite

Nick gathered everyone’s attention to the comperes, Hattie and Harriet, who introduced the acts. Most performers were current students with the occasional graduate and non-student. The evening started off on a humorous note with poems that talk about serious topics in a funny light. There were poems that left you breathless and some that evenbrought tears to your eyes.

During the interval it was possible to talk to poets about their work and compliment or critique them. One of the best things about nights like these is the immediate feedback from the audience; if it’s not the applause, then it’s definitely the chats afterwards. 

I asked Nick, Hattie and Harriet if they had time for a quick interview and they kindly agreed. They were very lovely and helpful, talking about their project with great pleasure.

My first question was about the origins of the event:

Nick said ‘RaR started 2 years ago as a dissertation project by Sam Boarer and James Pavett. Originally the event was only 4 times a year in Burdall’s Yard, Bath Spa University’s Art’s Showcase venue. The 2014/2015 team, consisting of Billie Stubley, Nick Compton, Chloe Douglas and Sam Neal, had developed the event to host biweekly events in Bath Spa University’s Student’s Union, as well as monthly poetry nights at The Bath Brew House.’

I asked them about the plans for organising events this year:

Hattie answered in detail ‘Currently the poetry nights are once a month in the Students Union and on the last Wednesday of every month in the Bath Brew House. This is to make sure there is a great turnout to both events. Both of these events are open to the general public.

I asked them a question prominent on my mind; who can participate in an open-mic night?

Nick replied ‘Anyone can participate. For every event we creates a Facebook event and they welcome anyone to talk to them, sign up for a slot and perform.’

My follow up was: what range of experience do the performers need to have?

Nick and the girls told me they are very open to new performers and no experience was necessary. 

For my last question I wanted to find out how useful these events had been to new poets who wanted to get their work out into the world.

Harriet said ‘They are perfect.

Hattie agreed and added ‘Afterwards there is a lot of feedback from people in the audience and you could stick around and talk to the poets. It’s a really casual, fun evening.

Nick wrapped up with ‘It’s a very supportive atmosphere. It is designed with newcomers in mind.

I thanked them for taking the time to talk to me and returned to the main hall to wait for the second half and a lot more performers to come. I was not disappointed. Before and after every poem and poet there was a huge round of applause from the audience members, really making even the first-time performers feel welcome and appreciated. 

In the second half there were poets that made you laugh with witty and punchy poems and poems that inspired you to become thebest person you could be. They were very relatable and realistic; talking about topics everyone had experience of.

After the event, many of the poets stayed around and spent time chatting to each other and the people who came to watch. Words of praise could be heard all around. The atmosphere at the end of the night was light and easy-going, like everyone had gotten something off theirchests. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in poetry or even just looking for a relaxing and enlightening way to spend theirevening. 

The next event is November 25 in the Bath Brew House. Doors open at 7:30pm for an 8pm start. Entry is £3.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rhymeandreasonpoets

Twitter account: https://twitter.com/rhyme_reason_

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