Upon entering the venue, the vibe was very relaxed and easy going. The lights were low and the door wide open, welcoming any and all passers by to come inside and enjoy what the evening had in store. The Jamcafe has a very retro feel to it, abundant in orange and pink prints reminiscent of the sixties and colourful, rainbow bunting.
We milled around for a little while, choosing a comfy looking corner to settle into and buying a round of drinks. As the minutes ticked away the place soon became very full, with the front row filling up with eager poetry lovers.
Christopher kicked off the evening with the open mic. The place was buzzing with energy as each of the poets came up and did their thing. The level of confidence was evident as each person took to the stage, be it their first or fiftieth gig – you could tell that everyone enjoyed their craft.
Each poet was unique, diverse in style and subject matter. Some of my favourites included Jenny Raynor’s self-explanatory poem titled ‘Unsolicited Dick Pic’, casting light on a problem that’s been afflicting the modern world since the camera phone was invented.
Other highlights included Jim Sharp’s ‘Ghost in the Phone’, a fun and witty piece about being scared of the landline. This too, I felt highlighted 21st century anxieties, by finding a way to combine the comedic and the relatable in such a manner that brought about many laughs.
The first headliner of the night was Aoife O’Connor, a Derbyshire-based feminist and poet. I was struck by her awe-inducing presence on stage as she went from jovial into a serious and mesmerising performance that left me entranced.
“The devil doesn’t wait for us in hell for us to find her. Instead she sits in the corners of drunken man’s churches, stealing the secrets from our lips.”- Aoife O’Connor
My favourite poem of the set was one titled ‘Church’. To begin with I was convinced the poem would be simply about religion, but as it unravelled I realised it dealt more with the topic of alcoholism and how we attempt to mask our fears and anxieties through deception. We get inside the narrator’s head by seeing the pub concealed as a Church and the act of confession in intoxicated words.
Next up was Dan Webber who described himself as ‘genre-fluid’ – a LGBTQ+ spoken word poet from Derby who to this day struggles to discern whether he should be in the poetry or comedy section for gigs. I’d actually seen Dan before at another poetry event and was delighted to hear his poem ‘Filth’ again – which I can assure you made me guffaw just as much as the first time around. Simply put, the poem was about getting arrested at a family fun day!
“This isn’t mine- I’m just a thief and what I wouldn’t give for another stolen moment like this.”- Dan Webber
Dan’s performance was a roller coaster of laughs and heart breaks, with some of my favourite poems being, ‘Anonymous at 6am’ and ‘Homo on the Rocks’, very different in tone and style and yet both equally as captivating.
“Who kills a baby?” – Akor Opaluwah
Next was Akor Opaluwah – a doctor and poet who runs the Monologue Sessions. I really enjoyed the format of his stories, an interactive re-telling of the story of King Solomon in the Bible. He shows the story from multiple angles weighing out the decisions the characters make in a way that made the audience question their own morals.
You can check out Akor’s latest poetry collection The One About… and more here.
Last but not least was the amazing Sophie Sparham. I enjoyed the freedom and honesty of her poetry and the utter abandon that was evident in her decision to follow her dreams.
She finished the night on a high with a poem called ‘Not Your 9-5’, about leaving a job she hated to pursue writing. She now travels around from gig to gig and even has a poetry collection out called Please Mind The Gap.
“I knew a man who sold solar panels but never saw the sun.” – Sophie Sparham
All in all, the night was a fun and enjoyable one, full of many vibrant and talented people. So, if you enjoy poetry and want to hit up a gig in Nottingham, look out for more events at Jamcafe.
All images courtesy of Christopher Lanyon.