When the award winning author Rhian Edwards asked me this summer if I’d like to take over Chinwag, I was a little hesitant, to say the least. She wanted me to ‘inherit’ her ‘legacy’ as she put it to me, said I was the right guy for the job.
I attended the previous Chinwags she’d run at Aberystwyth Art’s Centre and thought she’d done a marvellous job presenting the open mic. She read and sang and entertained everyone with her wit and charm.
Tonight was the first Chinwag with me hosting the open mic. The success or downfall of Rhian’s ‘legacy’ fell squarely upon my shoulders and to be honest, I felt rather nerve-wracked. When the lights went down, I stood behind the rostrum quaking in my boots – wishing for the evening to be over! I find it funny that I should have been so nervous. I’ve performed loads of shows in the past. However, fronting an evening is so much scarier than the usual recitals.
There was so much preparation that went into this evening. Promotions and emails, finding guests – arranging expenses, light and sound testing, room layout, meetings, etc, etc. A lot of work but it was worth it – as we all had such a wonderful time.
Luckily, I had a few friends in the audience to back me up. The Word Distillery Poets turned up to help me out. For me that was fortunate, as we had a full house but were down on performers. I had to fill in loads of extra slots with my own material. Timing the whole evening was a nightmare. Fortunately, the guest speakers also agreed to read extra stuff. We ended pulling out lots of poetry from nowhere. Also, I had the poets from Diversify to lend a hand. Thanks Liz – you read beautifully — and Gwyn for your show of support, it was much needed…
It was hot on that stage tonight. Seeing the faces of friends bobbing up and down on a sea of darkness helped me to get through the evening without having a heart attack.
We had a reasonable turnout from the students. I was amazed at the standard of writing from the Creative Writing Department. It ranged from excellent to brilliant. I ended up scribbling down half remembered notes all night, there seemed to be so much to remember… Jesus what a nightmare. There was so much to do, I could hardly fit it all into my brain. Hosting the evening was much harder than what it looked: you have to be spontaneous for a start (something I struggle at).
My guest reader Professor Richard Marggraf Turley was a true gentleman. He gave me and Sarah a signed copy of his Book: Wan-Hu’s Flying Chair. He was a fantastic guest and read more than his allotted share to help me out of my fix. I loved his poetry, the terseness of his line – the economy of his phrases. As you would expect, the Professor was a wonderful and engaging performer and I am truly grateful for his contribution to the evening.
My second Guest was my old friend – author Nigel Humphreys – a real poetry veteran from the Word Distillery. He performed his stuff with his usual confidence and swagger. When it comes to recitals, Nigel’s an old pro, he’s very experienced and comfortable with an audience. He read a poem about a pub-crawl Odysseus Jenkins went on – this poem was well received, partly I think, because of its quick observations. The stuff he recited at Chinwag lightened the mood and made us all laugh. Much of the material he read tonight had a lovely humour to it. It’s always great working with Nigel – he’s so laid back and easy going. I think having Nigel as a guest most certainly helped me cope with stage fright.
Tonight was scary as Hell, but Sarah and I got through it. My wife worked hard to back me up and make it a success. At the end of the show, my evening was made by a member of the audience who came up to me to thank me for a great show. Apparently, I had manage to pull off looking confident. Luckily, my extra thick jumper had insulated me from the affects of shaking.
Everybody worked hard and enjoyed themselves and it turned out ‘all right on the night.’
Thanks Paul for a great job on the sound engineering. I don’t know how you did it but you got those acoustics dead right!
Thanks also to Kath Stansfield and Professor Turley for helping to promote Chinwag and getting their students to participate. The Professor was a cool guest – his poetry was sharp and engaging. Thanks also to the author Nigel Humphreys for providing a pleasant humour to the proceedings – as always, you were charming and eloquent.
Also, thanks to the creative team in the Art Department – Rachel your posters and e-flyers were great.
Thanks Gill for your show of support.