Reading Between The Lines for an unusual night out at Drift bar in Southsea

If you have a nervous stammer, performing spoken word and poetry in front of an audience might seem a curious path to follow.

Saturday, 6th February 2016, 7:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 4:54 am
King Stammers of Reading Between The Lines

But the MC of a new spoken word night in Southsea relishes the challenge, Tim Martin even performs under the name King Stammers.

The King and his colleagues are heading over from the Isle of Wight, where they have been running Reading Between The Lines since 2013.

Tim fell in love with the spoken word scene while at university, but when he returned to the Isle of Wight, he recalls: ‘There was a group who met in a cafe once a month, but it was kind of that age-old caricature of poetry nights of embittered old farts sitting around and arguing about whose poetry was best, and I had no interest in that.

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‘I wanted something that was warm, and inviting and welcoming and entertaining, and even if you weren’t a writer yourself you could still go along and have a good night – that’s the whole point of it, it’s performance poetry.

‘It sort of morphed and evolved from that.

‘Over time we found our own identity and now it’s this rampant, amorphous mess of poetry that happens once a month. There are vodka jellies and competitions, and yeah, it’s a really eclectic bill, it’s a really fun time.’

With people regularly heading over from Portsmouth for the nights in Ryde, the collective thought it was time to take their show on the road.

‘We thought we’d save them a journey – if they’re enjoying it enough to make the ferry journey over, then we’re missing a trick.’

Coming along for the ride is the RBTL Collective, including 15-year performance poetry veteran Adam Gaterell, Boomtown Fair resident Doris Doolally, The critically-lauded Ivana Popov, south coast UK hip-hop’s best-kept secret ‘Catfish’ Jon Clucas and punk-poetry wunderkind Richard Heaven.

‘I suffer from a nervous stammer, hence my stage name. It’s an entirely sensible thing to want to do when you’ve got stammer isn’t it? Get on stage in front of crowds of strangers.

‘Between us we’re a right old bunch – Adam, one of our other residents, is a dyslexic librarian – between us so we’re so ill-fitted for our jobs. It’s great.’

Also joining them for a show in his hometown is Rex Domino, also known as Portsmouth-native Huw Olesker who has most recently been fronting DJ Yoda’s Breakfast of Champions project at festivals all over Europe.

‘Anybody who comes along expecting dour-faced people in berets performing poems about sunflowers and waves, or avant-garde material about death, is in for a bit of a surprise,’ laughs Tim.

If everything goes well, the group hopes this will become a regular night, with March 6 already pencilled in. And they’re also looking at starting up nights in other places.

‘We want to have a positive influence in the communities where we set up. We want to do workshops and go into schools, we don’t want it be just about turning up and doing a night and then leaving,’ says Tim.

They are also looking for local poets and spoken word performers to take part in future events. Contact them through their Facebook page.

The Drift Bar, Southsea

Sunday, February 7