Nottingham Poetry Festival 2018: Tuesday's Child is Full of Poe(try)

Words: Chloe Campbell
Friday 27 April 2018
reading time: min, words

Another day, another evening of poetic wonderment. We sent our Chloe down to the Fox and Grapes to check out this month's Poetry is Dead Good special, featuring comedy rap-battle legend and fastest tongue in the west Mark Grist. 


Under a canopy of fairy lights, Chris Lanyon confidently occupied the spot of opening act with ease and a combination of heartfelt emotion and bellyaching laughter, which set the tone for the accomplished and professional night of poetry that was to come.

Next up was Pippa Nayer from Derby, who “exorcised” the room with her poems that celebrated human frailties, unafraid to challenge the Gods, and even Bukowski himself. To follow was an open mic segment of the night. If you thought that this was going to be the part of the show where the standard took a slight dip, you couldn’t have been more wrong. Each poet who took to the stage, some of whom had never recited their poem in public before, was championed by an eager crowd. The crowd’s generosity was repaid through poems that showcased perseverance over the things that trouble us, absurdist poems that made us howl with laughter and socio-political poems to inspire action toward a more fair society.

With the night pushing on, any signs of jadedness were completely abolished by the brilliant Bridie Squires’ energetic and uplifting performance as Maid Marian. The LeftLion Editor jolted the crowd into participation in a pantomime-like frenzy of boos, jeers and cheers for Nottingham’s very own Robin Hood, who was set to take on his arch nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham in a rap battle to settle for good and all, who holds sway over Sherwood forest. The pair went back and forth for three hilarious, incredibly crafted and expertly delivered verses that had the crowd in stitches. The boisterous upheaval of the rap battle was balanced beautifully by the next act, local hip hop artist Alice Short whose combination of poetic stream of consciousness style verse, catchy choruses’ and mellow beats demonstrated to those in attendance that she is certainly one to watch.

At this point, the unenviable task of following such talented acts and headlining the night fell to Internet sensation, and former English teacher, Mark Grist. However, from the moment he took to the stage, Grist had the crowd in the palm of his hand with lyrical cries of “the Queen won’t pay her taxes!” as well as honest tales of drug and alcohol abuse and the grip it can take on those closest to you.

Having been sat for over two hours already, the crowd were on the edge of their seat as Grist effortlessly regaled them with the story of how he got into rap battling in the first instance when he refused to give up on a group of “bad kids” who had lost faith in themselves and their ability. The anecdote was littered with moments of hilarity but also managed to evoke the sweetest redemptive qualities as the crowd began to realise that Grist was not just a likable, funny man with a talent for language. His final poem, entitled “it’s still a fucking poem” was a rousing anti-elitist anthem that undoubtedly inspired many in attendance to pick up a pen and rounded off an amazing night with too many highlights to mention.

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