Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mark Connors at The Chemic

Partnership event with Word Club

Mark Connors
The Chemic Tavern was heaving more than usual for the Word Club Special where Mark Connors launched his first full length poetry collection Nothing is Meant to be Broken. People (most of them poets of one stripe or another) stood shoulder to shoulder at the back in support, while others crammed on to chairs behind tables papered with poetry print-outs and green brochures advertising Headingley LitFest, which has only a couple of events left now. It's a good thing there's no smoking nowadays in back rooms like this.

Gill Lambert

Poet Gill Lambert, who was the amiable and efficient compere for the evening, mentioned smoking: she said she imagined, at one time, that poets were private, meditative characters who lived in small, book-lined rooms and puffed on pipes. Some of them no doubt did that, but they were not in evidence at this event.

The first and third sections were for open mic performers to strut their stuff, and Mark Connors had the middle - the jam in the sandwich as it were. He usually gives his work some exposure in the course of a session, delivered from the heart and well-rehearsed, but on this occasion he gave himself the airing he deserves, with a series of poems from the new book, to rich effect. The themes included love, sex and mental health - and there can be no instant, detailed scrutiny on a blog like this. Look elsewhere for that. It's enough to say that the audience loved it. He sang as well, and it is obvious that he should do more of that in future.

Mark Connors is a widely published poet who won the Ilkley Literature Festival Open Mic Competition in both 2014 and 2015. His debut pamphlet, Life is a Long Song (OWF Press, 2015) and debut novel, Stickleback (Armley Press, 2016) are both now in their second editions. 

Emily Gibbons writes:
One of Headingley LitFest’s last events was in conjunction with Word Club, banding together to create a platform for local poet Mark Connors to perform poems from his first poetry collection, Nothing is Meant to be Broken. The turn-out for the event was simply astounding, and the atmosphere was cosy and full of camaraderie.

The event was split into three sections, with open mic slots at the beginning and end, and the middle slot reserved for Connors. The variety of people performing was inspiring, and in the second half there were brilliant poems by various women from Word Club. In particular Samar Shahdad made an impression with her empowering poem for International Women’s Day, in which she declared ‘I am a woman of no man’.

Of course the star of the night was Mark Connors himself, prepared with copies of his novel Stickleback, Nothing is Meant to be Broken, and a splash of dark humour. Performing poems both old and new, most of which are in the collection, Connors owned the spotlight with words crossing the boundaries between love, sex, tragedy, death, and humour. Since the event I have devoured the entire contents of Nothing is Meant to be Broken, and his wordsmithery is obvious on the written page, although his deliberate, humorous delivery when performing really shows the true essence of his poetry.

No comments:

Post a Comment