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Poetry Portraits, Wide and Varied: Poetry at the Adelaide

by on 8 August 2017

Poetry at the Adelaide

Performance Poetry at The Adelaide, Teddington 6th August

Review by Eleanor Lewis

It’s odd, fascinating and a little depressing the reaction that the sentence: “I’m going to see some performance poetry in a room above a pub” draws from people.

“God, really?”

“Oh, how lovely, so few people do that these days!”

“Well, that’s very noble of you.  You’ll be missing Countryfile then …”

I like poetry though, and not just the “With rue my heart is laden…” stuff, but the Philip Larkin account of how your parents ruin your life and you inevitably proceed to do the same to your children, which is also the one which allowed you to say the ‘F word’ as a teenager in school without consequences.  And this is before we get to the likes of John Cooper Clarke, Roger McGough and John Hegley.  If you’re hoping to get children interested in poetry, you can achieve a lot with the ever increasing body count of dead grandparents used as an excuse to get out of PE, in Conversation Piece by Gareth Owen, but I digress …

There’s much to be said for poetry and much to be said for those to write it and perform it.


So a like-minded group of people assembled in a nice pub, The Adelaide in Teddington, to read and perform their own poetry is an event to be relished.  This is a monthly meeting, which has not been going for long, but is building popularity.  In the August holiday season, the group was smaller than usual but the range of poetry its members produced still wide and varied.  Entertaining, funny poems sometimes enhanced by the occasional wig or prop stood alongside darker, more intense offerings.  Thus Bob Sheed’s reworking of a familiar tale: “They offered me a tuffet, I told them to stuff it”; and Anne Warrington’s account of the good-humoured gravedigger at Teddington Cemetery who eventually ended up in the cemetery conversing with old friends, intermingled with Malissa Elliott’s intense and thrillingly disturbing portrait of the Devil as a woman.

Malissa Elliott’s ability to communicate an idea is quite a talent.  Her poem about a child learning to deal with the mother’s (I think) epilepsy was gentle, rhythmic and powerful.  Lines such as “children setting upright things which have fallen” are strangely powerful in her hands.  Later on, her gently but clearly read account of creeping, overwhelming industrialisation and the people who ease its progress, was a vivid warning of an environmental apocalypse to come.

Fran Thurling’s poem Not Sleeping: “Book ended by the shipping forecast, the world sails by…” created a soothing atmosphere with deceptively simple images.

There was a mix of people taking part in the event, a reasonable age range (though not many younger people) and a range of performance skills, some more confident than others and some more naturally skilled or skilled by their working lives (I can spot an ex-primary school teacher at 50 paces).  I would like to have had a clearer impression of Colin Dailey’s work, particularly his poem on Copernicus, but his reading was a little reserved.

The poetry on show last Sunday was, I understand, all written by the contributors, though the group is happy to include people who simply want to read poems they particularly like.  Other aims include inviting published poets and perhaps having themed evenings in future.  This is a great event at which to hone your performance skills, showcase your own poetry, or simply to listen to poetry.  Something to look forward to as autumn approaches and the warm, inviting atmosphere of The Adelaide, a great place in which to experience it all.

Eleanor Lewis

August 2017

One Comment
  1. celiabard permalink

    Am delighted with this review. Very honest, and touching on some of the issues associated with performance. Do thank Eleanor. Warmest, Anne

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