“four and twenty” anthology (Pinggg….K!)

“four and twenty” celebrates five years of Pinggg…K!, one of Leicester’s more eclectic poetry and spoken word nights. Pinggg…K! meet on the last Tuesday of each month welcoming metrosexual verse (in keeping with Rikki Beadle-Blair’s soap Metrosexuality), acoustic music and visual art. Icelandic artist Magnus Gesstson opened his Galleri Gestur at Pinggg…K! The set is one of open mics and featured performances. Featured performances have included Dean Atta, Mellow Baku, Rob Gee, Cora Greenhill, Helen Ivory, Carol Leeming, Maria Taylor and Lydia Towsey amongst others.

From the spoken word nights a serious of blackbird/earthworm joking couplets emerged with cartoonists in the audience providing illustrations. In turn these inspired blackbird poems. The best have been selected and compiled into this anthology, which takes its name from the nursery rhyme where four and twenty blackbirds were baked in a pie.

Liz Gray’s “When Harry ate Sally” plays on the sounds of words,

“it’s an…
.            earthbirk
.            earthwork
.            birthwork
.            birthword
.            both words
.            earthwords
.            worms!
.            earthworm!”

which then repeats “earthworm” seven times before ending

”       black
.               birth
.        black
.              bird!

it’s an
.         earth
.            worm
.                black
.                    bird
.                       poem.

.             ah!

what was it again?”

In front of a familiar audience who are able to join in, this is probably fun. I’m not convinced it translates so well onto the page. Where a page poem is not reliant on specific typography or shape, I believe it also has to work as a performance. A performed poem also has to work on the page. That sometimes means cropping repetitions and considered whether a joke can still work on a second, third or fourth reading.

Andrew Walton’s “eyeless in Gaza” is more successful.

“why do Blackbirds, with banners and placards,
eyes brimming with tears at wanton destruction,
comrades come rally,
against injustice,
senseless slaughter,
poor innocent Earthworms?


Earthworm lay…
bruised and battered
concussed and shattered,
amidst ruins of what once was home
she had no answers.”

Interspersed throughout the poems are the couplets and cartoons:

“why were earthworm’s ears so hot?
blackbird blogging on the spot!”

“why did blackbird hop then stop?
she saw earthworm body-pop.”

As a souvenir it has a charm and fun. The energy of performances are captured, as is the friendly inclusive atmosphere of Pinggg…K!

Regular spoken word nights in Leicester include Word!, Shindig, Anerki, House of Verse and nights organised by Poetman. The end of September also sees the start of the Everbody’s Reading Festival.

Journeys in Translation Event during Everybodys Reading

Leicester Writers Club Everybodys Reading event flyer


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