Literature and Creative Word @ DaDaFest Bluecoat

timthumbIn the performance space at the Bluecoat, there were two rows of chairs laid out in front of some microphones and a big screen in preparation for the evening’s Literature and Creative Word event, which was being presented as part of DaDaFest, an annual celebration of talent in disability and deaf arts.

The evening was introduced by Tammy Reynolds, a Project Coordinator for DaDaFest, and was being signed so that deaf people could also enjoy the poetry that was going to be recited by the two special guests that night, Dr Owen Lowery and Cate Jacobs, the latter of whom was standing in for Sally Edwards.

After she had finished explaining about the event, Tammy told us a little bit about both the artists and invited Cate Jacobs, who was performing at the event for the first time, up to the podium to read out some of her poetry.

As she is a poet who is living with HIV, she started off by talking about the stigmas attached to people who have the condition and then recounted how she hadn’t been kissed for a while because of her predicament, until one afternoon when she met up with a friend and related the story to him.

She then revealed that she had brought in some little kisses for each member of the audience to take home with them, and a bowl was passed around with little pieces of paper that had lip prints drawn on them, and everyone took one.

For the next twenty-five minutes or so, she read out a series of short poems that she had written on this theme. Each of them gave a different insight into the art of kissing from the previous one, and I particularly remember that there was one of about her first kiss, and another about a friend of hers that she thought had attractive lips, even though he suffered from eczema, which was quite extraordinary.

There was a short break after she had finished her piece and then it was the turn of Owen Lowery. Lowery is paralysed from the shoulders down and uses a wheelchair, so his wife, Jane, had come along to help him, and she held up sheets of paper for him to read his poetry from, while images were displayed on the screen to accompany them.

The subject matter was ‘escape’ and some poems were about places that he wanted to get away from, whilst others were about places that he wanted to escape to. There were also some personal poems that he had written, including one about Jane’s father, who passed away last year, which made her get rather emotional.

At the end of the evening, there was a question and answer session, then the audience were invited to stay behind if they wanted to chat with the two poets and find out more about them, or order any of their books.

As I left the Bluecoat, I thought about the two artists that I had seen that night. I felt positive that they had been an inspiration to any would-be disabled poets who had attended, and hoped that we would see some of those people performing at a similar event in the future.

DaDaFest still has plenty more events to run before the festival is over. Be sure to check them out here.