It was unfortunate that the first real snow of this winter fell on the day of the first Nine Arches Press/Crystal Clear Creators Shindig of the year, but there was plenty to warm the cockles at The Western, as usual.
The open mic was as good as ever - I particularly enjoyed pieces by Maxine Linnell, Maria Taylor and Roy Marshall (his blackbird poem), but the quality was uniformly high. Good to see Anthony Owen there to read, too.
First featured reader was Dave Reeves, something of a legend in the Midlands, especially on the western side of the A5. His set used Black Country dialect, a squeeze-box (a highlight for me - far too few poets use squeeze-boxes), and some props for poems such as the one about how many Wild West heroes would have had British regional accents. Think about it - they would.
Julie Boden is another well-known face on the Midlands poetry scene, and her set of love poems was what I've come to expect from here - accessible, and very musical (she actually sang one poem), without sacrificing any subtlety. She uses repetition well - something that's far harder than you'd think it is to pull off.
After the interval, David Clarke (who'd braved the journey up from Cheltenham) read from his Flarestack pamphlet Gaud, as well as newer work, and read very well too. I'm looking forward to reading the pamphlet after what I heard, and he made a good point (very gently) about the assumptions we make about authorial voice in poems.
Jayne Stanton is a familiar face at Leicester poetry events, perhaps THE most familiar face, but I've heard her read a whole set too rarely before now. She has a quiet voice, both literally and poetically, and her work is all the better for it, I think - I enjoyed her poems based on a trip to Cork in particular, but she's someone with a wealth of strong material.
And that was it - back out into the ice and snow after another excellent night. Oh, and I read one newish poem at the open mic - The Dark Ages - inspired by finding an old university textbook of mine (John Morris's The Age Of Arthur) in a charity shop.