Word Mustard is Weston’s monthly poetry evening that invites us to take to the open mic and share our work in a mutually-supportive and welcoming environment. No accident, then, that this wordsmiths’ joy is held at the ultra-friendly and always community-driven Loves Cafe in West Street.
Although only clocking up half a year of existence, Word Mustard is rapidly putting itself on the local map amongst poets and lovers of the craft. In fact, most of the audience tonight is either reading their own poetry or is with someone who is reading their own poetry. I dabble in the genre too but hadn’t thought to bring my own. Such is the relaxed and warm atmosphere, though, that I will rectify this and, witnessing the passion and oneness of community here, I am inspired to write some more to read aloud. Gulp.
The evening works like this: bring your original work, let MC David Oakwood know that you’d like a stint and wait to be called up. Simple (the popularity of the night may lead to a more stringent system being put in place, I reckon). Each poet has around five minutes to share, whatever the theme, however the delivery. And Word Mustard certainly brings out the individuality in people; Alice’s fiery feminist poetry is also performance art; Trig’s keen observational tales of partying and SoMe are read from his phone. Both valid, both excellent. There is heartfelt political anger from Pearl and Grandad from Knowle West and contemplative reflections on life by Conrad and both Richards, while Polly delivers beautifully dark comedy and the always entertaining Melanie gives us lessons in life and artistry. Stephen eloquently performs a Roald Dhal poem (not original work: rule-breaker!) and Elsie, Macaque and Thommie each share their own personal take on relationships and love.
Every month, Word Mustard invites along a guest poet. Tonight she is Thommie Gillow, feminist poet and president of Bristol’s Hammer and Tongue (a poetry slam gem that I happened upon last month). She gifts us with a longer slot of poems that document the journey of her love life, from a comic telling of a planned kiss with her teenage boyfriend, one Neil Robbins, to a naked account of why and how she offers of her body to her present lover, her husband. Thommie’s work is sometimes light and sometimes extremely sad. Hers is a brutal and necessary honesty about miscarriage and the near death-knell of sex when practising the rhythm method for conception purposes only: “I want to make love like it’s the wrong night, every night.” Interjecting chat (sometimes mid-poem), this woman has a flowing naturalness and easy warmth.
Holding all of this together in a laid back manner is David, who introduces the evening with a selection of his own poetry (I particularly enjoyed Coughing Nails, dedicated to quitting the fags) and keeps the evening moving along with his effortless likability, making it professional without being prescribed: artistry at its best.
Meanwhile, the Loves Cafe staff serve us with a smile, keeping disturbance to a minimum, respectful of those on stage (as is the audience). Supper is served at a mere £6 a bowl and entrance to the event is free. The bar is open, coffee machine at the ready (ooh, ooh and you get a mustard shaker that you can shake to show your appreciation of the performers). So whatever your tipple, your budget or your taste in spoken word, Word Mustard and Loves have it covered.
Better get writing then…
Image by Keith Ramsey, with thanks