Last night's Shindig at The Western might have been the best yet, courtesy of a great line-up of featured readers, the usual high standard of open mic contributions, and a large and generous audience.
Mal Dewhirst, of Polesworth Poetry Trail fame, kicked off the readings in the first (Nine Arches Press) half of the night. I particularly enjoyed his piece inspired by Pooley Country Park, but all of what he read had a strong sense of place, and he's not afraid to take unusual approaches to his subject, either - I'd like to see a lot more of the archaeological 'dig' poem he read from.
It was good to be reminded of just how good a poet Nine Arches co-editor Jane Commane is, too, with her reading touching on areas as diverse as music, racehorses and maps (the latter being a subject I always find irresistible). Her bypass poem, too, was one I'd like to hear again and again.
The second half of the night, run by Crystal Clear Creators, first featured Charles Lauder Jr. I enjoyed his poems a lot - there was just enough of a transatlantic flavour to them to make them constantly surprising. I'll look forward to seeing his pamphlet from CCC next year.
Finally, Wayne Burrows, editor of Staple, read from a variety of new work. I think his apple-inspired sequence (the green things, I mean, not the Steve Jobs empire) was my favourite section, but the loose translations of Czechoslovakian pop songs from the 60s ran it pretty close.
Loads of excellent open mic readings - Mark Goodwin's poem about climbing Cader Idris with his daughter was as perfectly balanced as you'd expect, and it was nice to hear Catullus get a look in, thanks to Graham Norman. What I enjoy most is that the open mic readers are really starting to work off each other - each Shindig now seems to throw up certain themes which the poets just naturally fall into step with.