We’re celebrating the first anniversary of Pop Up Poetry at the Bar des Arts in Guildford (GU1 3YA) in February. We’ve been running this spoken word and music evening for a year now. It’s a free night with open mic opportunities and each month four or five guest artists come to perform, read or play their words or music.
The series takes its name from an idea by a friend, Susie Campbell, who in 2011 organised some spoken word events in previously poem-free places – one in a hairdressers (“On Beauty”), one in a cake-shop (“On Food”) and one in the Bar des Arts ("On Art") which Dónall hosted.
It was after the success of “On Art” that we began to hold Pop Up Poetry open mic sessions on irregular monthly Tuesday evenings at the Bar des Arts. Now Dónall hosts the nights on the third Tuesday of each month (except in April 2013 when it will be the fourth Tuesday).
We‘ve had a wonderful year of entertainment from a wide range of poets and musicians, both from the London circuit and from the local and provincial areas, and made a great many new friends in the last year. The recent emergence of a student group from Surrey University (Tom V and Friends) and the discovery of local talents like Eddie C, Rodney Wood, Daniel Smith, Wizzi Seaton and Thomas Thurman has made the year particularly rewarding.
People have asked us why we don’t charge entry to Pop Up Poetry. It’s a good question - we’ve been inviting friends with whom we’d often read and performed gratis, in London venues, and they have generously trained down to Guildford to join in as guest features, at their own expense, from London, Oxford, Kent, Addlestone, Farnborough and other far-flung places.
We don’t charge entry because we believe that listening to, reading and performing oral poetry should be accessible to everyone. We are not charged for the venue, nor do we receive anything from it other than the opportunity to fill it with words and music on a Tuesday night. To pay the expenses of four or five guests we would have to charge audience and open mic performers at least £4 - £5, even with a full house, because we would also have to pay the venue a share.
We believe this expense would exclude the students and young poets, and the (often unwaged) poets who come to our nights despite their own high travelling expenses. We believe this would be counterproductive.
We have been very lucky to find so many brilliant artists and performers who are willing to make the trip to Guildford occasionally and share their work with our appreciative audiences, without fees. We salute our friends and look forward to a happy and creative new year.
You can find our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/PopUpPoets and see our schedule of events there.