Friday, 19 November 2010

Poetry at the Lewes Arms

After some weeks without attending any live poetry events, I spent an inspiring evening on Wednesday with Sandy, a couple of dozen other poets and poetry fans and the brilliant Andy Brown, as part of the University of Sussex's New Metaphysical Poets series. Then last night Rebecca and I went to Lewes Poetry at the Lewes Arms.

Olly, Lewes Poetry's compere and resident poet, used to run a comedy club that A A Gill once described as 'the worst comedy club in London'. He is rightly proud of Gill's review.

Olly and his wife have made their own decoration for the poetry events by creating a backdrop of purple velvet (apparently made from their bedroom curtains) with the word, 'Poems', in applique letters at the top. Flaps of further, flowery psychedelic fabric hang beneath, half obscuring another word: 'Pi...'. Rebecca and I were told this was 'Pints', but Rebecca reckoned it was more likely 'Pimps'; I went for 'Pineapples'.

It turned out Rebecca and I were the only poets who wrote primarily serious work. I don't think I have ever laughed so much or so joyously at a poetry reading before, though perhaps our whiskys with ginger ale increased the sense of carnival.

During the break (and while we were serenaded by Andy Williams on a portable stereo that had to be played upside-down or the CD lid would flip open) Olly said we were all to write limericks for that evening's competition, the prize for which was a bottle of white wine. We were told to write on a certain engagement that's been in the British news this week. Unwilling to write limericks, Rebecca and I each wrote two haikus (or seventeen syllable jabs, in my case) instead.

Mine won, largely due to Olly's vitriolic reading and the company's desire to let a mock-haiku (a fake-u?) win a limerick competition.

On our way home and full of drunken chutzpah, I told Rebecca I would publish my pieces; so, ruining forever my chances of becoming laureate, here's the stronger of the two:

He's stupid, balding, buck-toothed, an arse.
I really couldn't give a toss.

And, with great pride, here's my bottle of wine:


  1. What a great evening that sounded! :)
    Bravo Sian!

  2. Congratulations on fine limerku
    ( a great named bottle too)

  3. A very fine haiku and well deserved win! And I hear they're looking for a poet to give a reading at their wedding :)

  4. A poet for the wedding, that would be fun. A fine bottle of wine was won, yum yum.

  5. That looks like some fine British Wine there. And named after that famous place in erm....

  6. Ha ha! But you're wrong to say you were the only ones there writing serious poetry. I only read out the silly stuff at the Lewes Arms because I don't think my serious stuff is what people want to hear!

  7. What a wonderful account of that evening, Sian. Many thanks, Ollie