Thursday 5th July 2012 - Fred Voss and Joan Jobe-Smith - The Longbeach Connection at Hull Truck - Humber Mouth Literature Festival
By Michelle Dee.
Photographs by Cilla Wykes
Truck Stops and Polka Dots
Tonight's poetry performance was the culmination of three years effort, to bring the highly respected Californian writer Fred Voss to Hull.
All week I'd been hearing reverential murmurings about the two visiting poets, particularly from the writers in my midst.
Wearing dark shades, dressed in black from head to toe, the flame haired Joan Jobe-Smith, opens with a poem about a community rescuing a
precious pecan tree from the rising flood waters, called Red River. I note the long drawn out vowel sounds, that Texan drawl straight from the silver screen.
After the closing line, there's an uncomfortable silence, when nobody applauds. There is an unwritten rule about poetry readings; at some
it is customary to applaud at the end of each piece, at others one applauds at the end of the set. Tonight the audience decide on applying
both rules, but at different times, which left me feeling rather awkward.
'I used to be a Go Go girl' Joan tells the Studio Theatre crowd and follows this with seedy tales from the type of joint where men go without their
wives, to drink liquor and watch the dancing girls.
Her poem, The Pow Wow Cafe, taken from the 1998 collection of the same name, published by Smith/Doorstop Books, tells the story of the girl who works
in the Go Go bar at the truck stop, clad in a skimpy polka dot skirt. When her father finds out where she's working, he steams over there to play
merry hell with the owner. Later, he will be sitting at the self same bar while a pretty girl, someone else's daughter, serves him a drink.
I was interested in the conflict within the dual male personae; he's all protective and heroic in front of his little girl, then, without a thought,
he transforms into the typical red blooded male leering at the waitress in the strip joint.
Joan's narrative, biographical poetry reads like scenes and gritty dialogue from a classic road movie. She's from the city of Paris, Texas, after
all (Wim Wenders 1984). Having published Pearl, a feminist poetry publication, she drops names of literary luminaries like Woolf and Plath with consummate ease.
When this authority of counterculture, stands there and recounts anecdotes about cult literary figure Charles Bukowski, I can sense the audience
leaning in closer, every time his name is mentioned: myth-making for a younger literary generation.
With no introduction, Fred Voss moves straight into the first poem; a visceral multi-faceted piece where each stanza ends with his customary soft
slow hypnotic growl. Fred appears to have an encyclopedic knowledge of film, culture and literary imagery.
For the past thirty years Fred has been busy dreaming, while feeding the machines of the factory floor. Through the poems I can see the steel
blocks, taste the grimy rags, feel the sharpness of the cutting blade, smell the sweat on the workmen's brow.
These blue collar men caught up in the American Dream, would likely be replaced by robots now, and that oh, so precious dream be replaced by
something more tangible, like fear.
The poem Jim Morrison, cruises through an archetypal American montage, as Fred celebrates his heros; The Doors lead singer thumbing for a lift on 4th,
Charlie Parker sober and Charlie Chaplin twirling his cane, waiting for a bus. Each iconic image is perfectly framed and held fast, before it fades into history.
Fred Voss explores his own male psyche, through the semi-autobiographical psycho-dramas of Frank and Jane. Always Ready To Grate Carrots deals with a
subject matter familiar to womenfolk everywhere; that of the man who has so much time and ambition, he ends up achieving nothing, all the while wrapped up in his own world.
The theme is explored through a domestic lens, as Frank sits out on the porch and shouts out to his long suffering partner, that he is always ready to
grate carrots, take out the trash or vacuum the rug. The last stanza conclusively sums up the scene.
'When a man is as absolutely certain as Frank is
that he can do anything,
what need is there to do
Reviews, Theatre Theatre Brothel 2.0 at Hull Truck Theatre - Saturday 29th September 2012 By Michelle Dee
Photographs by Cilla Wykes
In recent years, film and theatre reviews have become littered with the following: Spoiler Alert! So what can I tell you about
Theatre Brothel 2.0
without giving the game away?
The Theatre Brothel experience begins as you walk the back corridors and passageways of the theatre. Which two of the four shows you
got to see in any given night, depended on what answers you gave to some probing questions.
Reviews, Theatre Monday 2nd July 2012 - Ross Sutherland: The Three Stigmata of Pacman at Fruit - Humber Mouth Literature Festival By Michelle Dee
Photographs by Cilla Wykes
The annual Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull moved into its second week; a week filled with innovative and acclaimed spoken word artists curated by Write to Speak and Fresh Ink in the Hard Rhymes & Great Exclamations strand of the festival.
The performers are arriving in Hull from as far afield as York, Devon, Los Angeles
Reviews, Art Revelations On The Edge by Sarah Pennington at Red Gallery - June 2012 By Michelle Dee. Photographs courtesy Sarah Pennington
A whale bone washed up on a distant shoreline; a battered old tin found loch side returning to its place of origin; strange crab claw tools; methodical
arrangements of chalky bone fragments from fish and fowl. These are just some of the curios that await you when you visit Revelations on the Edge.
Artist and sculptor Sarah Pennington left her home in Hull and spent 3 months on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
Reviews, Theatre Reclamation at Hull Truck Theatre, Saturday 23rd June 2012 By Michelle Dee
Getting to Edinburgh Fringe is a milestone in every artists career, and performing at the
Arts and Culture Festival presents many challenges; least of all financing the escapade paying for travel and
lodgings while you attempt to put on a marathon of shows in a month.
Reclamation by Joe Hakim, Mike Watts and Ruth E. Dixon is about self discovery not in the namby-pamby
Reviews, Theatre Poems and Pints at The King's Arms, Salford, Friday 3rd February 2012 By Melanie Fullard
Poems and Pints; the brainchild of Paul Heaton ( The Housemartins, Beautiful South ) and his partner, Zena Barrie is a new monthly poetry event held in The King's Arms,
Salford, Manchester. Paul, who has recently become the new landlord was also in the line-up to perform.
Myself and thisisull's Cilla Wykes accompanied two of Hull's leading poets, Mike Watts and Joe Hakim who had both been invited to the opening night.
The King's ArmsRead more...
Reviews, Arts - The Liberation of Barton - A Poetry Evening at The Ropewalk, Barton on Humber - Saturday 8th October 2011 By Melanie Fullard
The Ropewalk in Barton is a listed building which was once used in the manufacturing of rope. It now doubles as an art space and performance venue. It's really awkward to find, sandwiched between Tesco and a housing estate (especially in the dark!) but it's well worth the trouble.
Tonight sees performances from the pick of Hull's finest poets and the debut of Barton's very own Lady Blah Blah (aka Ruth Dixon).
Reviews, Theatre Stags and Hens at Fruit - Tuesday 26th July 2011 By Melanie Fullard Photos by Neil Holmes
Have you been to the 3D cinema recently?
The characters are larger than life, there's surround sound and you become so engrossed that you feel like you're in the film. Well, that's what it's like watching Stags and Hens.
The audience is gathered - standing room only. A bloke walks down the middle aisle; he's swaying a bit and looks a bit pissed.
Reviews, Books - Stories From Potters Field by Andy Wilson and Joe Solo Reviewed by Tim Roux
Joe Solo is a prolifically and prodigiously talented Northern England singer-songwriter who since the turn of the millennium has produced a steady flow of stand-out albums.
The trouble with ol' Joe is that he is a dyed-in-the-wool uncompromising old-fashioned Socialist who refuses to 'tart' up his songs with ear-candy arrangements, so some day someone will make an absolute fortune
Reviews, Theatre Sunday 13th February Scratch Theatre @ Fruit By Michelle Dee
I was just one of the many people on Humber Street Sunday 13th February to witness the first Scratch Theatre night at Fruit. Eight separate ten minute shorts were showcased tonight, each one a new piece of theatre written by a local writer.
Feedback sheets were handed out to answer the questions; what in your opinion worked / didn't work; what did/didn't you enjoy; how could it have been played better etc?
Reviews, Books - Coming to a Street Near You by Mike Watts (Night Press)
Reviewed by Peter Knaggs
At 116 pages, 62 poems, here we have it, the hot debut from one half of the Write to Speak
duo, Coming to a Street Near You.
There are a clutch of writers at the moment; Martin Hayes, Dan Fante
and Tony O'Neill and they write poems, good poems, you don't see them rubbing shoulders with
Don Patterson and Jo Shapcott and it's unlikely that you would happen upon their work in Poetry Review. Read more...
Reviews, Books - Coming to a Street Near You by Mike Watts Reviewed by Melanie Fullard
Mike Watts is a guy who's glass is always half empty. Not only that, it was his last fucking one and it's nine days till pay day.
The poems in his debut poetry collection, Coming to a Street Near You reflect the kitchen sink dramas of the '60's like Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and Billy Liar, Watts himself being a modern day Arthur Seaton.
Reviews, Theatre Write to Speak Presents Kate Fox News - Wednesday 12th January 2011 By Michelle Dee
The final Write to Speak of the current run saw writer/poet Kate Fox performing her Edinburgh Fringe Show Kate Fox News at the Hull Truck Studio Theatre. Tonight was ladies night so before Kate took to the stage the healthy Wednesday night crowd were given another chance to hear from the female members of the workshop poets.
Reviews, Arts - Write to Speak presents Kate Fox News at Hull Truck - Wednesday 12th January 2011 By Mark Walmsley
The last Write to Speakevent of the third season was crowned by a brilliant night's entertainment featuring BBC Radio 4's Kate Fox and 4 of Hulls very own up and coming poets, Catherine Scott, Kerry-Joe Pulford, Michaela Bamber and Pam Scobie .
Normally, it could be said that the likes of the very talented Kate Fox who has graced the Hull Truck