[2007021] wordfire

wordfire (FringeTIX – but it was a one-night only job)

wordfire @ Crown & Sceptre Hotel

7:00pm, Mon 12 Mar 2007

Every Fringe since 1998 I’ve looked longingly in the “Writing” section of the Guide and chucked a couple of items into my shortlist – mainly in an attempt to appear balanced in some way. And every Fringe, I wind up chickening out of going to those events – either by convincing myself that it’s really not appropriate for me to attend, or that other shows are much more important, or that it’s simply too much of a risk (whatever that means).

Not this year, though. I shortlisted four (out of five!), and by god I’ll get to at least some of them.

And so I found myself wandering towards the Crown & Sceptre on a Monday night; as I pass a patch of nearby parklands, an attractive lass is reading out loud and gesticulating to herself from a park bench. I arrive at the pub and, after acquiring courage from the bar (notwithstanding the pricks who don’t seem to understand bar etiquette) I settle on a barrel out in the back room, and begin eying the other patrons.

I strike up a conversation with my neighbours; they, too, are first-timers, attracted by mention in the Guide and the price: FREE. The room is packed – at least sixty people have turned up. I look at my gold-coin donation programme – it’s listing a 7:30pm start (bugger), but it’s also got a list of the evening’s contributors.

A brief intro, and Indigo takes to the stage with a pair of percussionists. She’s excellent – her poetry is sharp and bright, like a Mag-Lite being shone in your eye. Heather Taylor Johnson’s remaining American accent lends authenticity to her college-framed prose, but Gemma Parker’s debut was startling… though a touch robotic in her delivery, her poems on hearts and heartbreaking were Just Bloody Ace. Anna Solding rounded out the first set with an evocative run through unpronounceable Swedish towns.

There’s a break, then Jenny Tourne starts the second set with a bit of tap – apparently, she wants to be the first tap-dancing poet to appear at the Edinburgh Fringe. Lyndall Clipstone’s excerpt painted a taut picture of frailty and confusion, before Kerryn Tredrea’s blunt descriptions of raw sexuality doused any remaining nuance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Throughout, two “Exquisite Corpses” were circulating the room, with willing participants adding a single line based on a stipulated theme (without knowledge of the words written before them) in an attempt to create a group poem. I wish I’d been around to see how this turned out; alas, I had to scoot to catch my next show, so I missed the unveiling of the Exquisite Corpses and the final three readers.

At the beginning of the salon, our host announced (presumably to all the Fringe-oriented newcomers) that wordfire was created to help shatter some myths and stereotypes about the creative writing scene; in this, it succeeded. What I saw this evening was a fun, friendly, and mostly appreciative audience, supporting each other in their creative endeavours.

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