In the new venue of the King's Head, the upstairs room is just about spot-on for a night of this type - large enough that you're not all piled in on top of each other, even with an excellent turn-out like last night's, but compact enough that you can hear the poets read without any trouble.
Gary Longden hosts it superbly, and I liked the format of open mic slots to begin and end the evening, as well as between the featured guests in the middle. Importantly, too, there was time to talk. Feeling part of a poetry community is a more important aspect of events like this than it's sometimes given credit for, but here we all went home having had the chance to make new friends and catch up with old ones.
I didn't make notes, so I'm afraid I haven't got the names of most of the open mic readers, but a high standard was maintained throughout, not just by the familiar faces such as Tom Wyre and Malcolm Dewhirst.
Michelle Crosbie's feature set was excellent. She read entirely from memory, and even sang her last piece acapella, and I'd like to hear more of her work, as well as to see it on paper. She used rhyme skilfully, I thought (as did many of the open mic-ers) - not something that's easy to do, and something that an audience immediately picks up on if it's not done well.
I read entirely from The Elephant Tests, and Jo Bell helped me out on Ravens, Newborough Warren, reading the second voice. It was a pleasure to read for such an appreciative audience, and there was lots of good feedback later on (plus plenty of books sold).
Jo's own set was the highlight of the evening, taking in poems from the excellent Navigation (available again now), as well as newer material. She will, I hope, have a new book coming out before too long, burt in the meantime, take any opportunity you get to hear her read. She can flit between laugh-out-loud funny and lump-in-the-throat moving in the space of a line, and that's a rare thing indeed.