Second Monday, every month…RARA! 


For me, the November RARA was partly about a sweet, yet mild and playful, serving of…REVENGE!!!

More on that later, here is the now regular monthly report from Rhyme and Real Ale, Cardiff’s monthly spoken word and poetry open mic night, words by me, pics by Paula Hughes…

Meet your hosts…


Mark Curtis and Ceri Sian, regular faces and voices at RARA and now the latest in a series of Guest Hosts…


Dave Daggers (co-host with me last month (and main organiser of RARA) introduces Mark and Ceri to the audience and here comes Mark to kick things off…


…With a piece called Almost Late, and highly appropriate, given Mark was himself almost late to the event…Next Mark called up…


Christian Searle, who read a piece he wrote around thoughts about the open mic nights at RARA, which, he explained got more vulgar the more he wrote. Thank you for the sweetly delivered filth in the lines of 147 Candy Floss Trollops, Christian, eye twinkle of yours present and correct as always! Next Mark welcomed a new face to Rara…


Liz read a poem formed from a conversation between her and her daughter, a fraught debate over the sincerity of the daughter’s apology in the context of behaviour related to addiction issues. She followed with a wry confessional piece about her own ‘seven deadly sins’ according to the rules of the slimming program she was rebelling against  🙂 Then Mark invited up…


David Foster-Morgan, who read from his book Masculine Happiness, recently published by Seren. He has a way he checks out the poetry books of other new writers, he reads the title poem, and the first and last pieces. He applied that to giving us a taste of his own book…as ever, David brought wry intelligence and the calm authority of his reading style to RARA…


Then  Eric Ngalle Charles from Cameroon sent out vibes of humanity, partially viewed through sadness at the inhumanity mankind is capable of, a welcome new voice at RARA!


David Hanlon dleivered a delightful piece about domestic trauma caused by the presence of a mouse that moved from revulsion to growing admiration of ‘George’ seeing the furry one develop inthe narrator’s mind from domestic plunderer to a mouse among the greats, such as Danger Mouse, Jerry and Mickey!

Before announcing the first break Mark Curtis read a poem asking us to never let go of our dreams, no matter how long it takes to make them real.

After minutes of toilet breaks, drink purchases and chats…


Ceri Sian assumed host duties and welcomed to the mic…


John Eliot, author of Ssh! This time John read from his work included in Kaleidoscope before momentarily usurping host duties to introduce fellow contributor…


Mario Uberto Fiorillo whose piece Port of Entry evoked the plight of immigrants seeking saftey, some only finding mud and rocks and shipwrecks…After Mario, Ceri called up…


Poet, singer (and photographer for these blogs about RARA) Paula Hughes, who sang two songs, one about her pre-Aspergers diagnosis experience of feeling a sort of loneliness in a world where other people seemed far more organised about their lives than her. Then, in strong soulful and bluesy voice, she sang a song harking back to the childhood of John Coffey (the tragic prisoner on death row portrayed in The Green Mile). In Paula’s song John was a gentle giant of a child to his mother.

Next, Ceri introduced…


Bridget Leggy Tanner who did to contrasting pieces conveying fear. The first from the point of view of a little girl being kidnapped in to slavery, the second more humorously, from the perspective of a narrator suddenly surrounded by cows and a bull!


Dave Daggers, humorist, poet, musician, artist, photographer and world class git unaware of my impending REVENGE for his prank on me during our co-hosting last month… in fun pun mode, Dave lamented his time spent living on Writer’s Block 🙂

Then Ceri welcomed…

Melinda, who read a poem called Phoenix about a sad time in her life when renewal and regeneration were badly needed. Then she explained how she believes in being  good neighbour to all…except a badly behaved neighbour who inspired Crossing Bondaries, a true tale of obnoxiousness and transgressions regarding foliage dividing properties…


Ceri stepped up, readdy to give us  us some of her own words…and this would have been the end of the second section had the need to get public transport made a RARA regular have to ask if he could do his thing before leaving…


Patrick Widdess, poet and podcaster gave us three mini masterpieces, including Legend of Rain, creating a wry and pithy series of literary pictures of a thirsty landscape where little girls are not automatically believed if they say they have seen a raindrop. Then the presenter and producer of Headstand disappeared into the night…


And Ceri closed the second section of the evening  with her considered words, partially reacting to life’s hardships and losses delivered with a sense of sighed resignation that makes the turmoil often within the lines take on a sense of unassuming beauty….

Returning for November RARA  part three, Ceri read again, intensity never far from the surface of her deceptively gentle style, and Mark delivered a lovely poem, The Dawn of Peace, before introducing…


Me! I did one of the pieces I wrote for Fran Smith’s event for Anti-Slavery Day (Customer Care Line For Slave Owners), Then came…REVENGE!!!


Well, to be honest REVENGE is putting it too strongly, I might have been mortified at first by Dave Daggers playfully mocking my Booty Song (and my Ace of Spades shirt) last month but REVENGE isn’t really my style, I opted to do one of Dave’s pieces but as genuinely in spirit as I could, and he had a grin on  his face the whole time at the laughter caused by words he had written 🙂 And some extra gags I added 😉

Partial recording of mild, playful REVENGE as I do my own version of French Love Songs by Dave Daggers

Thanks Bridget Leggy Tanner for filming the REVENGE!!!

After my silliness, the rest of the evening finished strongly with…


Fran Murphy, who has sung very sweetly previously at RARA but this time semi rapped her way through Beautiful Thief, dramatically depicting the grace of the bird and the voracity of the thievery…then a sensually delivered piece that kept it’s secret to the end, that the adventures explored, were those of an everyman character (more precisely and everybook character, testifying to the possibilities for the imagination unlocked by reading).  Then…


Ben Meadon read a piece borne of a prompt at the ever popular ever popular Roath Writers group, the prompt being I Am. Ben’s piece was a personal one, telling of his experience of his own body conspiring against him to make his life difficult…


Bryan Marshall stormed out the words of an anti-war sonnet,  called Please Stop, before dropping into an accent in order to proclaim and celebrate and demand respect for the fine nature of his own Booty!0004

Fran Smith jokingly offered a slightly belated Halloween themed piece, before impressing us all immensely with her percussive use of the letter P in a high speed sonnet with a strong anti war message


Finally, came the last performer of the night, Laz Lazarus, the Prince of Darkness of Cardiif poetry rapped for us and his often vulnerable appearing stage persona revealed to those who hadn’t seen it before a new facet to his normally semi-dreamy, semi bemused by the harshness of loneliness style!


Ceri and Mark then sent us on our way, with thans for being a good audience and we in turn thanked them for being such lovely and warm hosts 🙂 Nice one both, nice one everyone!!!

More RARA, coming like, and just in time for, CHRISTMAS!!

Bring yourself, and your words, Christmas themed or not, Come all ye Faithfull, Come all ye Faithless, Come to read, Come to listen, Come to RARA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL at the Mackintosh Sports Club, Monday December 14th, 7.30pm


UPDATE: The media focus created by the protest referred to below resulted in a ‘stay of execution for Cardiff Libraries. But we must be wary that this is not just a tactic to keep the issue off the agenda in the run up to elections, before resuming the policy of seeking to close libraries when the council thinks the fuss has died down.

Well, they really did for me as a kid many moons ago. Long walks from the Nantyglo Estate in Gwent to Blaina Library opened up a new world between the covers of every single book. With nothing to do and little to hope for, only imagination may have saved my individuality from being crushed under the weight of commonly shared despair. The ability to think beyond myself, beyond my surroundings, beyond my experience came from books and for families with no other option, books came from libraries.

Today, hundreds of very different individuals with one intent took part in a protest outside Cardiff Central Library to show the local decision makers that people do care if the library services are cut. Not everyone can get to the bigger library so more local ones have always been and should always be a link to a world beyond that which we can see with our eyes.

Threats of library closures are a threat to the personal and social development of many who don’t have the facilities to access the high speed modern world we keep hearing about. Libraries are there to ensure that those least able to keep pace with the speed of modernity have a chance to be a part of a world increasingly dependent on high speed communication and social networking.

Despite the comments of ignorant and out of touch politicians, Libraries are not just a middle class issue. Readers who lack resources need them. Writers who fill the shelves with their work value the chance for their work to be accessed by readers who may never otherwise try out their stories and poems, etc, because money for things like books is not a luxury everyone can afford, which is a truth those who only see the world in terms of cost analysis simply don’t seem to understand.

Losing libraries also means losing the expertise of librarians dedicated to guiding people to the materials they need to find. This crucial aspect of the reason libraries help so many people is gone forever when a library disappears. And the lack of a library to go to is a lost avenue for everyone.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Cardiff Central Library, some travelling to the city specifically to add the presence and voices gathered to demonstrate that LIBRARIES DO MATTER

The view from inside Cardiff Central Library

While the Central Library itself is not in danger of closure, and it remains a welcoming place to all who wish to use it, it is the very local accessibility of library services that make them a part of peoples lives.  Reducing the number of libraries distances people from crucial facilities and distances people from their own community and the rest of the world. Those who decide where the axe will fall in tough economic times never seem to understand that their actions affect people. And if they do have the intellect to understand this (presumably because libraries gave them the power), then it is easy to assume that they simply do not care.

Show your local library that you care that it exists. Even if you don’t personally use the facilities because you have other options for accessing what you could otherwise get from a library remember that libraries are there for those who don’t have the choices you do. They are not a luxury, they are a necessity for more people than you could ever know.

Libraries gave me larger horizons than my life would ever have. Libraries gave me the means to express myself and to write and perform. Words on pages lead to dreams, and dreams lead to better lives.