Sunday, 1 April 2012

REVIEWS - Raymond Antrobus Poetry Performance at Petersfield Right Angle/Chill Pill At The Albany


Having recently returned from South Africa, Ray Antrobus started with what it was like,  'No one wants you to get too comfortable' and in 'Conversation with a South African Taxi Driver', in dialect, - 'Africa is a woman. Only women have that much colour in their fury'. And,  'I will pick you up 9.15 African time.... You might call it 11'. The audience laughed....'so I will see you 9.15'.

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Ray's timing, his powerful voice, presence and penetrating eyes, ranging from sensitive to poignant to humour, projecting in his stories and poems, held the audience spellbound. From 'Conversations with my Grandma', - 'kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt' to a journal of his dreams, from which he extracted  ideas for poems. 'A man called Thursday lives in the weekend', 'The best poets live in ambulances', 'Snow has put the confetti company out of business', 'The best suits are tailored for astronauts.

He doesn't know why but different kinds of transportation appear in his dreams – not necessary, since he 'teleports'. He described a particular road which, when it appears, tells him he's in a dream. Described in great detail,  he watches it from the upper level of a double decker bus. His sentences are short and sharp. There's a train station on which a woman with wrinkles 'as thick as lightning bolts stuck in the sky'...He speaks of his vices, 'Women and Broken Poems', 'I feel like love is a type of clean and I'm too dark for it'. 'I'm a love child so everything about me is an accident or a broken poem'. Ray switches quickly from one idea to another, keeping his work stimulating and exciting. He seems to share so much of himself and what he passionately  believes..'Nothing is more universal than love'.  'She saw all the flaws in the way I tried to hide them.'.and, be a perfectionist but know you're not the moon because you cannot shine every night'.

'I would take my hand and marry my words if I was sure they were right'. 'My mother didn't die. She just stopped running. She walked out the house for a cigarette and never came back'. (There's an anger there). On 'difficult relationships' – 'My poems don't understand me. They get jealous when I look at other poems in magazines. They accused me of cheating on them with music'. 'I would never do that - Yes I would!' Typical poems!' Lastly, 'Sometimes conversation is a hard act to follow. No one assumes he didn't hear them. Instead it's assumed he's stupid'. Ray speaking of Ray. He left school at 16. He talked of having hearing aids in both ears without which he cannot hear and how people responded to that. How they spoke to him as if he was 'stupid' and his resentment is apparent. When Ray isn't travelling all over and performing, he works with children with special needs. He never wanted to learn sign language. He wanted to be like everyone else. (We don't think Ray will ever be like anyone else! He made the evening a very special one!

Chill Pill At The Albany Featuring Rachel Rose Reid & The REC Chior & UK HipHop Legend Mystro

Action. Drama. Romance. Comedy: The key ingredients I seek when I'm reviewing a Bollywood Blockbuster. Little did I know I could get the same filmi fix from a poetry night. Chill Pill is the best showcase of poetry and spoken word in London...(if not the UK?) I know, I know...there are infinite poetry nights nationwide, all with captivating hosts, brilliant headliners and rising stars of the future on the Open Mic...but add in a passionate and intelligent group of curators, a full masala of themes, a magic rug and a friendly intimate crowd, and you get 'Best' with a capital B.

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