Words In The City is a late spring poetry spin off from the main Ilkley Literature Festival in October and it has just gone through its second season. On Friday 26 April I spent the evening at The Holbeck for the Words In The City Showcase jointly organised with Wordlife.
Host (and poet) Kayo Chingonyi’s warm, gentle and affectionate introductions for each poet were perfect for the end of the work week crowd who filled the audience for performances from six poets; Gav Roberts, Hannah Batley, Andy Craven-Griffiths, Andrew McMillan, Malika Booker and Henry Normal.
Gav Roberts’ poems with scenes from his home town of Rotherham, the people in his life, his powerful introduction to himself and an unforgettable portrait of night out ending on his local bandstand were a brilliant start.
Other stand out moments were Andrew McMillan’s poems about exercise and the male body and Malika Booker’s ‘Her Silent Wake’ which imagines the thoughts of a mother of a Caribbean serviceman killed in the First World War.
Perhaps most unexpected was the closing performance from Henry Normal. The pithy and humorous poetry he started with created an atmosphere more akin to a stand up gig but he seamlessly moved into very moving poems about his son, who has autism, and his life with him and his wife.
At Words In The City last year I went to my first poetry slam and with my experience this year Words In The City has fixed itself for me as an essential part of the Leeds poetry scene.