A regular Thursday night event, Café Frug, at St Ives Art Club features local poets, writers, musicians and slots for people like myself visiting or on their holidays. The Arts Club has been running since 1890 and provides a wide range of artistic opportunities within the historical seafront building on the harbour including a gallery downstairs and a theatre complete with stage, lights etc. upstairs.
Find out more about the club and its activities at: http://www.stivesartsclub.org/index.html
The evening is run by Bob Devereux, something of a local legend and a talented poet with a unique style. Bob has been writing and performing poetry since touring with bands in the early 1970s and is still going strong in 2015 at the age of 75. As well as his poetry Bob is an abstract expressionist artist, a librettist and teacher. You can read more about Bob online or catch some of his performances on YouTube.
When we arrived around 7.30pm we met Bob who introduced himself, I told him that I’d been at The Union on Monday evening and after hearing me read one of the musicians, Pete Low, suggested I come along to the Frug. Bob said they’d love to hear some poems and told us that things would kick off around 8.15pm giving us plenty of time to go and grab some chips on the seafront.
After an opening short set by Bob accompanied by talented guitarist Adrian O’Reilly the open mic session opened and I was invited on stage to read a few poems.
The theatre is an intimate setting and the acoustics were great and it was really nice to be able to speak and be heard clearly throughout the room without needing a microphone.
Sitting on the well lit stage with the audience almost in darkness was very new to me but after a few moments I could see the audience well enough to be able to communicate with them and having briefly introduced myself I read three poems:
- Seahorses – A story about my teacher in the last years of primary school, Mr. O’Connell, who really did keep seahorses outside the classroom (you can read “Seahorses” here)
- Standby – quickly got the audience on side with its take on modern life and how things have changed changed (you can read “Standby” here)
- Dead Eyes – a painfully sad poem about child soldiers which had the audience listening in total silence before applause and several expressions of “Wow!” after it finished (you can read “Dead Eyes” here)
That was a good amount to perform at most open mic nights but this had been part 1 and after a short break and a couple of tunes from Adrian we had a second round of performances and I was asked for another three poems. This time I read the following:
- Blank – a poem about trying to write when under time pressure. The audience, many of whom were writers, clearly understood and recognised the issues and it was very warmly received (you can read “Blank” here)
- The Curse- another short and sad poem this time about dementia (you can read “The Curse” here)
- Different Dad – a slightly silly poem to lift the mood and entertain and which left the audience laughing and smiling (you can read “Different Dad” here)