Last Thursday, nestled in a secretive room of a secretive bar, I was delighted to be able to launch a shiny new live literature endeavour: Speak Easy. A stripped-down and simple spoken word night for the people of Stretford in south Manchester, Speak Easy began life with an abundance of support from my enthusiastic literature friends, plus some keen local talent who managed to sniff us out in time to grab five minutes of stage time. It all took place inside The Sip Club which is a curious but delightful place hidden away above an estate agent on Barton Road. Sip describes itself as 'a living room with a licence' which sums it up very neatly indeed. Ale drinkers are surrounded by table lamps and bookcases and shifting between the three rooms almost makes you feel like an innocent intruder in someone's bungalow. It's a brilliant place, deservedly award-winning, and is firmly establishing itself as the place-to-be in Stretty with a whole gamut of regular events including film clubs, quizzes, wine tasting and French conversation clubs. Oui, vraiment.
Setting up Speak Easy in such a place was a breeze and it seems to have slotted itself in quite comfortably. The events room is just the right size to get 40ish audience members into an intimate space with performers (not like that) with no need for a microphone thanks to the thick walls that separate the rooms. The atmosphere is spot on for what we want to achieve with Speak Easy: a safe and supportive space for writers local to the Stretford area who might not have read their work out loud to a room of strangers before. Our first event was driven forward by my various talented pals and acquaintences but I was especially glad to give five minutes to two local poets, one of whom was born barely a hundred metres down the road. Not on that night. Like, ages ago. You know what I mean.
So this is my chance to say another big thank you to: Michael Conley, Ros Ballinger, Andy N, Terry Foulkes, Harry Jelley, Fat Roland, Emma Gibson, Geriant Thomas, and Sam Rossi for being a buzzing clutch of wordmonkeys and to my partner in crime Annika Edge for making the whole thing dead easy and stress-free to set up.
We've got two more Speak Easys booked in on October 8th and November 12th, both of which are already getting sign-ups (there's six hardy souls on the list for October already) and, all being well, we'll bring it back in the new year and firmly start to bed it in. I'm thrilled to see in what direction it will go and what new avenues it will open up, both for me and whoever else takes to the corner of our quirky licenced living room.
If you are reading this and you'd like a slot at one of our future events, either hit me up via the comments here or the contact page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All welcome: poets, prose writers & creative nonfictioneers, beginners, professionals, & stellar celebrities. All I'm offering is five minutes of stage time in front of a bunch of pleasant people in a great pub with good beer and cheese boards - but what more could you possibly want out of life?