I’ve been back at home a few weeks now and although various trips around the country since I returned have meant I haven’t properly finished unpacking yet, let alone begun to deal with the fallout and debris (financial, professional, emotional) of being away, I’ve realised that a proper blog post about our travels is long overdue. This is partly in case anyone’s interested in what we got up to while we were away, but primarily to signpost people to the brilliant artists that we met while we were out there, so that hopefully you will look out for them if and when they visit these shores, or you visit theirs. So this is the Perth bit: The Perth Fringe Festival, or Fringeworld as they would much rather you called it, is only a baby – this is their third year – but it’s roughly doubled in size and popularity every year and looks set to become a mainstay of the Perth cultural calendar. As, I hope, will the venue that we performed at – The Noodle Palace/Bok Choy Ballroom. Aaron & Fletch from JumpClimb were first-timers to running a venue this year, but with the management of a number of bands and acts plus the annual Beaufort St festival, which this year drew over 100,000 punters to its massive one-day party, they were bound to make a decent stab at it. A last minute fall-out with the owner of the noodle factory that inspired the venue’s names meant the boys [...]
This post is not as self-indulgent as it may first seem, although it is still quite self-indulgent. I’m posting a scan of the spoken word feature from The Scotsman in which Anthropoetry got a little tiny mention at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. This is not so much to revel in the glory of my solitary column inch in a national newspaper, but more because the image is very large so when I attach it to emails to try and promote the show it is invariably too large, and I’m tech-shit so don’t know how to resize it and still keep it readable. So I’m posting it here so that I can direct people who want to read it this way. And while I’m at it I may as well go the whole self-indulgent hog and post the other reviews I got too. Next time I post, I hope it’s something more interesting and not so much about me. But given the website is called benmellor.net, I doubt it. Sorry. Anthropoetry by Sabotage Reviews Ben Mellor’s new show is a “journey across human anatomy” with some slick poetry set to music and a particularly impressive political and lyrical bent on topics that (in other hands) could have been puerile. Give it a day or two and he’ll have it all off by heart, but despite occasional glances to the script when I saw it, it was a professional and enjoyable show. He kicks off with a fantastic introduction to how versatile [...]
Voices of Dissent was my first solo show, which I made in 2008 at Contact, Manchester. It was ‘an anarchic multi-character piece combining spoken word, dramatic monologue, movement, music and renewable energy’. Voices of Dissent began life during my At Home residency at Contact in 2006. I wanted to create a piece of work that explored the issue of sustainability, while being a sustainable product in its own right. The piece tells the story of Tali – an ancient trickster god from a forgotten pantheon who ‘in the beginning’ stole fire and gave it to humanity. For his crime, Tali was condemned by the other gods to live out his immortal days on earth, experiencing their pain and hunger forever. But now the gods are over-heating, and are forcing Tali to try and steal fire back from the humans. Realising the impossibility of his task, Tali sets out to try and prove to the gods that humans are worthy of the gift of fire, intervening in the lives of a host of characters to make them act more responsibly. Tali’s story and the stories of the characters he meets are told in a combination of dramatic monologue, dialogue and Ben Mellor’s trademark verse, full of imagery, wit and wordplay in this engaging new solo show. The production aimed itself to be sustainable, and as a result was necessarily participatory. A bicycle was used on stage, mounted on a pedal generator which powered the lights. The faster the pedals turned, the [...]
Sumit Sarkar, my go-to guy for everything of an art and design nature, has produced this beautiful artwork and graphic design for my new show, Everything We Need, which as you can see opens at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, on the 28th June. It’s only on for three short nights so it’d be lovely if you got along to see it, and bought a ticket soon to avoid disappointment. I also, shall attempt to avoid your disappointment by making a show at least half as good as the poster makes it look…
So, the other day I was invited to perform at a benefit for the charity Freedom from Torture. We were asked to read a poem of ours, and one from someone else, that fitted the theme of torture, or freedom from it. I thought the evening would be fairly sombre in tone so I wanted to write something amusing, but found the subject matter difficult to squeeze a laugh out of, as you may imagine. So I wrote this instead. (apologies for the lack of stanza breaks, I still haven’t got to grips with html) I wanted to write A funny poem About torture. But laughter Stuck In my throat Like splints Under fingernails; I opened my mouth To let it out But Torture Water-boarded its flight, And downed it With simulated drowning. Torture would not allow itself To be trivialised by Privileged Western woes, To be bathetically compared To ‘people talking on their phones In the quiet zone’ or ‘Being forced to watch The dancing worm of death While Iplayer buffers’ Torture remained mute In the face Of my attempts at humour, As silent as a secret cell In a private prison On the soil of a compliant, Client state. Even our universal suffering The Dharma seeks to end Seems trite when compared To the horror Of Barney the Dinosaur And Sesame Street Punch-fisting ear-drums For hours on end At volumes that blank out The strobe-etched screams ‘Some are calling it A cruel and unusual tool – And many [...]
I’m doing this next week. Please come, it’ll be really good.
Apparently it’s bad form on blogs, newsletters etc to apologise for how long it is since you last sent out a missive to your adoring public, as this would imply that you were egotistical enough to assume you had any sort of public at all, let alone a public stupid enough to adore someone who uses words like ‘missive’. So I won’t even mention how long it’s been since my last post, let alone apologise for it, and just get on with writing about what I’ve got coming up. Phrased & Confused This weekend I and my fellow Geddes Loom band mates, Léonie Higgins and Dan Steele, will be performing a new music and spoken word commission at Summer Sundae Weekender in Leicester, brought to you by the lovely people at Phrased & Confused. The piece is themed on protest, and we’ve tried to imagine what Poetry and Music would protest about if they were characters, with what I hope are quite amusing results. I’ll also be performing in a Gil Scott Heron tribute slot and Geddes Loom will be performing a set of our other material on the Rising Stage on the Sunday. If you’re not around in Leicester we’ll be performing the protest piece at Interrogate Festival in Dartington on 23rd Sept, and at Contact, Manchester on 23rd Nov. A Game Of Consequence Over the last couple of months I’ve been busy working with Contact’s Young Actor’s Company on A Game of Consequence – a new piece of [...]
Just about slipping this one in before the day’s out because I need to have posted something on the first of this month, as I’ll be attempting to throw up something vaguely poetic every day for the whole of April. This is part of NaPoWriMo, an initiative which has so far attracted around 170 websites to publicly commit to posting a new poem every day for thirty days. It’s a bit of a daunting task, especially considering everything else I have going on this month, but I’m hoping the threat of a daily deadline will be a healthy thing that will push me to write what needs writing. Also I’m doing a stint on Something Every Day for a week in June so I figure this will be good training. My first post is a bit of a cheat as I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but still it’s not been seen or heard by anyone but the editors of Inc zine who are publishing some of my work this month. I’ve submitted a few short poems, plus they asked me to write something in response to an illustration (below) by Barnie Page who will also feature in the zine. I had two attempts at this as I didn’t like the first one I wrote, but in the spirit of ‘resisting the urge not to leave traces’ I’m including them both and letting you be the judge. The Girl In The Picture or Blue Period – Version 1 [...]
In the housing co-op I live in, there is an internal email system for members to communicate with each other about domestic goings on, and sometimes people post things they think might interest others. Today someone posted a call-out from Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition, and directly beneath it they had posted the summary from the bird-watching course they are doing. I wondered what the two posts might look like if they were spliced together. This is my ‘found’ poem: On the Cusp of Spring The sun shone and to herald spring Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Coal tit, Blue tit and Goldfinch sang to our gathering With the bloody and failing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan still in place, the USA, Britain and France are now committed to an escalating armed intervention in Libya. Sheep grazed on improved grassland which usually means that there is little to be noted on such bland landscapes but we managed to note Woodpigeon, Stock Dove and Mistle Thrush before we moved along the road in our search for more bird friendly habitat The decision to attack Libya and impose regime change – for that is what the UN resolution means – may have been authorised by the Security Council. But it was instigated by the despots of the Arab League, desperate to secure deeper western involvement in the region to save them from their own peoples. And it will be implemented by the same powers which have wreaked such mayhem throughout the Arab and Muslim [...]
Well, not quite, but after much faffing about with couriers, jiffy bags and a new set of kitchen scales that look misleadingly like an iPad, I have now officially set up shop. My book and CD are available in various combinations (book, CD, book & CD) at my bandcamp page. I’m very happy with both, and think they represent fairly good value for money, even though I am still quite uncomfortable with the whole exchanging poetry for cash thing. If we lived in a world where people were happy to exchange food (and clothing, shelter, inner tubes and macbooks) for left-leaning, self-righteous doggerel performed by bearded thirty year-olds then I wouldn’t have to suffer that discomfort, but we don’t. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Anyway, I hope a) you’re richer than me and can afford frivolous things like books and CDs and b) you decide to part with some of your hard-earneds to receive the fruits of my faffing and c) if you answered yes to a) & b) that you enjoy it/them and share your enjoyment with me and the rest of the world. Meanwhile I’d better get on with writing some new poems while I sit and wait for the orders to flood in… Or not.