SPOKEN WORD REVIEW: Out of Your Head! @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle (30.03.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Lewis Brown

The world of poetry has deep routes. Speaking verse to a group of people has been an ancient tradition, it was our main method of sharing and recording stories for hundreds of years. In March of 2022, local creative practitioner Amy Langdown co-founded the now monthly spoken word event Out Of Your Head! (an event for those who share too little and think too much) bringing that verbal tradition back to the forefront. After moving from venue to venue, OOYH! has established a permanent home at the Cumberland Arms, taking over for one Thursday of every month.

This most recent show was the one year anniversary, making it a jam packed and exciting event with eight performers invited to share their responses to the eight themes, as well as a full hour of open mic for anyone who wants to join.

One of the most beautiful things about OOYH! is that it has a warm and rich atmosphere, creating a safe space for people speaking their words to a crowd for the first time. Each month someone completely new to the scene finds the strength to stand up on that stage, letting their thoughts spill through rhythm and rhyme (though not all poems need to rhyme!)

Amy Langdown took to the stage themselves to speak a deeply personal story to the room. The way that she weaved through the narrative of alcohol dependency to sobriety was something that made everyone in the room feel they could relate, even though we all have different life experiences. The skill Amy has to hold a room is probably part of what inspires so many people to be vulnerable on stage themselves.

Though not everything is so dark or emotional. Northern champion, Cooper Robson brought a fair share of laughter to the room as he walked us all through his dream of digging a hole on Longsands beach. Not just any hole though, the biggest and greatest hole that we could all dig. Cooper made such a fantastic sales pitch, I dare say I might join him there with a spade when his birthday arrives!

Quinn Clark came onto the stage with a flash of bright green hair and declared that they were going to make a noise. They did indeed make a noise! Stepping back from the microphone to shout for a moment. With our attention captured, Quinn launched into a celebratory poem which contained humour and love for our local community and the year of OOYH!

From beautiful confessions, to elaborate plans. From loving what is Northern, to loving the world of books. There was not a topic left off of the table at this feast of language. Now that a full twelve months have passed since its birth, OOYH! shows no sign of slowing down, with Amy Langdown sharing local poets with Emma Millen on Newcastle’s BBC Upload show. Now that Amy is applying for further funding for this brilliant showcase of spoken word, we can be assured that the tradition of storytelling is still alive and well in Newcastle. You can join them again on 27th April for A Collection of Recollections.

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