Running events can be thankless and annoying, as in last night having to repeatedly tell people who were sitting on the seats round the corner that we had the room for a paid event and that yes I could hear them gabbing over the microphone (no I do not care if there are no seats in the bar, we have this room every month!) uppity open micers and the like. However recently I have started to be proud of what Stirred is and has achieved so far. I discussed this in this piece on the fab eight cuts site: http://eightcuts.com/2012/02/03/anna-percy/.
Lots of poetry events feel like a poets club, where by the audience is made up of poets and basically you are playing to a crowd that knows the rules (hopefully) knows you, your work, and the themes that make it up. We are lucky in Manchester to largely have a varied, accepting, diverse and politically engaged poetry scene.
However when I go to events where nearly the entire open mic is men, or people with nothing of note to say reading poems that are pages and pages long (actually general note for open micers if you have to staple it its too long) or to hear of disastrous scenes such as witnessed at one of Cathy Bryants gigs: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2047910-why-i-walked-out I am really proud of the feminist space I have created at Stirred. I feel like Stirred alongside Jackie Hagan’s Magical Animals, John G Hall’s Beatification, basically all the fine poetry events at Sandbar, we have created nights where people can celebrate their queerness, their oddness, share with you their altered perception and discuss mental illness freely and without censure.
It was a friend of mine who is a non poet who had invited a friend of his along for the first time (also a non poet) discussing that aspect of the night which made me want to write this. Frankly most of the poets that I know and love are mad in some kind of way, either clinically or have had their lives touched by someone who is or just bloody odd in some way which has made them need to pick up a pen. He said something about how that was why the night was so good, hearing people talk about a different part of life, because it is unusual to be in a room where people freely discuss: staying ina psychiatrict unit, depression, effects of medication for example. It is through telling our stories that we give a face to mental illness for people whose lives are lucky enough not to be tainted by it, we show them people who have mental illnesses are funny, kind, warm, giving non scary individuals, and this is important.
I am proud that Stirred at times is like am psychiatric out patients long may it continue
And thank you to Sandbar for giving us a place to tell our stories.