A longstanding stand-up poetry night, Bang Said The Gun is ‘for people who don’t like poetry’. And, I am happy to report, for people who do. On a mission to re-energise poetry nights and shake off their poncey, worthy reputation, this gang is gunning to get you excited.
Brilliant fun and high quality talent
The energy starts as soon as you get inside. Uplifting classic soul blasts from the stage and every seat has a 'shaker' on it; a repurposed plastic bottle full of peanuts to rattle loudly instead of clapping. The enthusiastic hosts batted balloons in the air, the Spiegeltent was full of sun and some of the audience even danced.
My Britishness kicked in here—oh no, was this going to be enforced 'fun'? But I’m an introvert! However, only 10 minutes in and I was rattling and whooping as though among friends. The shakers are an inspired gimmick which change the sound of the night (bye-bye, polite clapping) and raised the energy of the room. Petition to introduce them to every allegedly highbrow event.
All this even before the poets were on stage. What a great variety of talent – all funny, all talented, and all so different as to keep us engaged throughout. The stand-out for me was the marvellous Laurie Bolger. The sharp-eyed comic detail of her poems makes them accessible and moving, as well as hilarious. I loved the ‘passport faces’, biscuit tins of old photos and bags of reduced broccoli that colour her very clever writing. I can't wait to see her perform again.
Rob Auton’s Letter to Father Christmas was a revelation. I did not spot where the poem was taking us until it swerved to its real destination, and then I wanted to print it out and put it on my fridge so I could read it every day. I've since found a video of him performing it, directed and edited by Scroobius Pip, for those of you without fridges. John Osborne’s poem about Simon Armitage was already a favourite of mine, and it was a pleasure to hear it read aloud. He’s another writer skilled at using everyday detail to grab at your heart when you thought you were only laughing.
An uplifting and inspiring evening, I left with a grin and a clutch of new poems to love. Short of free booze, I couldn’t have asked for more.