After years of running various bookshops in the South East, I have developed a Pavlovian response to the phrase "local poet" and automatically go into fight or flight mode. I have good reasons for this, but my blinkered attitude almost stopped me from discovering the wonderful Oliver's Poetry evenings at The Lewes Arms.
When fellow blogger Laura told me that her friend Oliver held a monthly poetry evening at a local pub, I imagined that there would be a lot of terribly earnest people reading rather bad poetry and almost didn't go. Luckily, I had the good sense to trust Laura's judgement and had a great evening out.
Thanks to Oliver's years spent running a leading comedy club in London, the evenings feel more like a gig, with a good rapport between poet and audience. As for the poems themselves, the quality is consistently high and I often leave wishing that I could hear them again.
But if you do visit Oliver's Poetry evening, be warned: you will be expected to write a limerick in the interval!
The most recent limerick competition had a Royal Wedding theme:
Next month, on Byron's 223rd birthday, Oliver will be publishing a book called The Commuter's Tale:
Described as a "thriller in verse", The Commuter's Tale was written by Oliver during two years of commuting from Lewes to London.
I was going to write an article about the book, but I had a better idea: why not record an interview with Ollie in the convivial surroundings of The Lewes Arms? The result is the first Age of Uncertainty podcast!
The following interview was recorded in one take and if I had to do it again, I probably wouldn't have had a couple of pints first, as I sound as if I should be presenting the 1936 Royal Review of the Fleet at Spithead. However, Oliver is thoroughly entertaining.
Click on the player below to hear the interview:
During the evening, Oliver commented on the fact that a lot of women kept coming up to us. Unfortunately, we soon realised that it was because we were next to the the ladies loo.
Another illusion shattered.
Here is Oliver in full bardic mood, reading a canto from his new book.
For more information about The Commuter's Tale, visit www.deserthearts.com.