Goodbye Pint of Poetry!

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On Wednesday it was the 10th birthday, and also the final night of A Pint of Poetry & A Dash of Drama – a spoken word open mic night I co-founded back in Peterborough with my friends Mark & Summer (pictured). Although I left in 2010 I’ve been back a few times, and was honoured to return and perform and compere part of the evening. You could tell I was a bit rusty when I introduced one of the acts with the wrong gender…

I’ve got a lot of very fond memories of PoP, which started me writing poetry. Now I don’t pretend to know any of the rules or forms, and most of what I write is pretty light-hearted stuff, but with everything that has been going on with my health I decided to write something inspired by that. There is a link here to a very rough recording I made of it – it’s called ‘Stand Up Wee’.

I really enjoyed getting back in front of the mic, and am definitely going to try to build it back into my life along with getting fit. What I’d ultimately like to do is put a spoken word show together – The Ballad of Gutless Dick. So watch this space.

Thanks to everyone who came along over the last 10 years and made PoP so very special. There wil be a new night soon from some of the team, and the scene has really grown. I’m off to track down some nights in Bristol…

The Movie of my Life, #NaPoWriMo

In the movie of my life

I am played by Jim Carey

Because he has a big mouth.

My wife is played by Cameron Diaz – it’s Hollywood.

My mother is Helen Mirren.

My father is Jim Broadbent because it always is.

The cat is CGI.

The film fails miserably.

Then becomes a cult hit

With poets, youth workers, socialists and fans of Twitter.

In the sequel the cat is voiced by Morgan Freeman.

He pronounces Chippenham wrong.

And wins an Oscar.

Why I hate supermarkets, #NaPoWriMo

BOGOF when you just need one

Check out captains

Other shoppers.

Suspicious security guards

Other shoppers with small children

Unnecessary packaging

Cutting staff to use workfare

Other shoppers with small children not in control of the trolley they had to push.

Trying to find pine nuts

Having a choice of toasted or untoasted pine nuts

Paying £1 for having my pine nuts toasted.

Self-service tills

People who take trolleys through self-service tills.

Other shoppers with small children trying to use self-service tills.

Losing my wife to the clothing section

Loyalty cards

Forgetting my bag for life

Forgetting my vouchers to go with my loyalty card.

Eating horse meat that should be beef


Would not sell clothes (maybe tights)

Only be for me

Pay a living wage

Trade fair

Wrap in paper bags

Sounds like local shopping to me.

Horsing Around, #NaPoWriMo

Horsing Around

Horses are funny in Britain.

Most don’t want to eat one

But say they could.

Posh girls like to own them,

Small men like to ride them

Men envy there long… faces

And the nation gambles on them once a year

Knowing nothing about them.

And in that week several will die

And we pretend not to see the Tesco van scoop them up

That my friend, is called a pint…

shadows of the cathedral

This week I am back in my home town of Peterborough looking after my mum who recently had an operation on her knee. I’ve still managed to catch up with a few friends too whilst I’ve been here, and last night I went along to A Pint of Poetry & a Dash of Drama – an open mic poetry & drama night that I helped start up over 6 years ago when I still lived here.

I was a little nervous – I hadn’t been to the event for over a year, and not performed anything since then – I hadn’t really written much either, so was hastily scribbling as I sat through the first six performances. However, the mix of styles and confidence levels of the performers soon had me relaxed and enjoying myself as I stepped up to compare the second section of the evening.

Mark stepped back up to do the final section and introduced me to a warm reception, and my work – rusty as it was – seemed to go down well.

I need to get myself creative when I get back home!

Photo by Jon Smith, Licence detail here

Happy Birthday Pint of Poetry!

This week saw the sixth birthday of A Pint of Poetry & a Dash of Drama – a spoken word event that I started with two friends in 2006. For six years, on the first Wednesday of every month poets and actors have gathered at Charters Bar in Peterborough to share there own and favourite works of literature, for free.

I missed the first night as I was in hospital, but there were were only three performers. Over six years that has grown, and we regularly have audiences of 40 people and 20 performers. The event is free – and that is part of it’s success and charm. We’ve not got caught up in committees and accounts, and anyone is welcome to perform. Standards (and tastes) vary, but it doesn’t matter.

This weekend a group of performers will journey to Edinburgh to take part in the Free Fringe for the third year running in our spin off event ‘A Pint of Poetry & a Dram of Drama’. You can see videos of our first visit on my YouTube channel here.

I moved away from Peterborough 2 years ago, but still try and get back when I can, and still feel a sense of belonging when I do. We’ve had Christmas parties where we as organisers dressed up, birthday cake, competitions and guest spots by Tim Clare & Rachel Pantechnicon.

We started with a MySpace page (which we should probably delete) and now have a Facebook group. I reckon we kick started other Peterborough events by giving a platform which showed that spoken word was wanted by the people. We cross promote other arts events in the city, and have been nominated

So happy birthday Pint of Poetry and a Dash of Drama, and thank you to Charters for hosting, everyone who has come to watch, who has performed and to Summer & Mark for keeping it going – and agreeing with my top suggestion for the name!

You can read all about it on the Peterborough Telegraph website.

#oneaday, Day 73, Twitter Poem

A while back on Twitter I was trying to get myself up to 300 followers, so I announced that I would write a poem for my 300th follower, who ended up being a local councillor from Peterborough – Darren. I think he was expecting it to be a a bit different, as he sent me a link to his girlfriend’s Facebook page for inspiration. Anyway, here it is.

A Poem for @cllrdarrenfower

I thought it must be love

When Darren started following me

A fine man from Peterborough

He was my hundredth follower – times 3

And I promised him a poem

It wasn’t just a bribe

But a thank you for being 300th

Making me feel good inside.

It’s taken bloomin’ ages

To come up with these lines

His love is not for me though

As I shall now describe.

He follows 3500 people

He’s liberal through and through

His first love is for eleven men, who like to play in blue.

If they hadn’t been promoted, I don’t know what he’d do.

His real love is like a priest – in fact it is a Bishop.

A blonde called Jane who does tricks with bottles – or so it seem son Facebook.

So he asked for his poem to be for her – which was really very sweet

He thinks about you all the time – with every single tweet.



Richard Harris, July 2011

#oneaday, Day 70, Milton Keynes

OK, so my home football team Peterborough United beat MK Dons in the playoffs. Also, AFC Wimbledon have gained promotion.

A while a go now I entered a poetry slam, billed as Peterborough vs Milton Keynes. I wrote the following poem, and thought it was worth sharing now these events have happened.

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes

Is a place I’ve never been

I just know you steal football teams

And have roundabouts in your dreams

And concrete cows, and you had a wooden tower

That Look East talked about for almost an hour

Because from the top you could see – a snow dome.


A snow dome.

But I’ve never been to your snow dome, because I live in Peterborough

Where for many years we have had a dry ski slope

And on hot… warm summer days we can slide down nylon.

And if we want snow, we can go round the back of the ice rink

Where there is a heap of the stuff that little kids can pile on.

Oh Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes

Is a place I’ve not been near

Because I don’t need to go to Ikea

We have got the warehouse here. And they deliver.

Our best festival is all about beer

And the council tax is not too high.

So keep your MK

I’m from the PE

Real cows beat concrete

Parkways beat roundabouts

Longthorpe Tower beats your wooden thing

And we don’t want to be on Look East anyway

Oh Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes

We were both New Towns in planners’ dreams

And maybe one day I’ll come down

If you get to be a city, and not just a town


Since I wrote it, I have actually been to Milton Keynes to have a document endorsed. however, I don’t think Milton Keynes has been made a city, so I am not going to return.