A Band of Gypsies on the Road

Spoken Word London. Photo by George Sydney Selwyn-Brace
Me reading at Spoken Word London. Photo by George Sydney Selwyn-Brace

On Wednesday evening I read again at the brilliant Spoken Word London in Dalston. I gave a go for a couple of poems in preparation for my set at Gypsy in the Field, which was where I spent last weekend. It was a busy night and there were lots of great performances. Vogue Fabrics has a nice atmosphere and the crowd at this event is rather experimental and edgy, so it’s a safe platform for trying out jokes or reading poems that might not be taken well elsewhere.

And then the weekend. I’d been dying to get out of the big city for a while, so two nights of gazing at the numerous stars, singing by a campfire and yes, shivering in a slightly leaking tent, was a welcome adventure. The festival started off quite peacefully on the Friday, with some music performances in the little tent, hosted by the fantastic Sioned Jones. I particularly enjoyed the music performance by Al Goodwin, whose beautiful folky melodies and poetic lyrics silenced the tent. The night went on around the campfire until the early hours of the morning, those with musical skills taking turns with the guitar.

Saturday morning broke out gorgeously sunny and the main stage saw some great performances. I couldn’t really concentrate on the morning shows, however: our crew (Tom Bland, Mike Clift and I)  had our poetry performances coming up in the small tent that afternoon. I spent a good while getting into my performance costume – was the first time I ever had to get into a corset and high heels in a tiny tent – but it paid off since the poetry afternoon’s brilliant host John Canfield acknowledged my effort and introduced me as the best-dressed poet that afternoon. Tom, Mike and I filmed with each other with Mike’s iPad (that gave me a great opportunity to do my poem about hating iPads while pointing at the iPad on which it was being filmed), so there might be videographic evidence later. We also heard from Sebastian Handley, Fiona McKinnon, Rachel Amey and Ant Smith. Everyone did really well and it was an entertaining and inspiring afternoon.

The brilliant Coco & the Butterfields playing on the main Gypsy stage on Saturday night
The brilliant Coco & the Butterfields playing on the main Gypsy stage on Saturday night

Later in the evening I went back to enjoy music at the main stage. I absolutely loved the energetic folk/hiphop of Coco and the Butterfields, who really made the crowd dance. That night there was a brief feeling of being part of a real gypsy tribe – the atmosphere at the entire festival was thoroughly welcoming, supportive and inspiring. I loved every second of it, and as much as I still am in love with London nightlife, I felt a part of me died on leaving the beautiful countryside behind…

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