Malika Booker poet

Blah, Blah, Blah. Poetry at the Bristol Old Vic.

Compered by the refreshingly friendly Anna Freeman in the Bristol Old Vic’s basement November’s cabaret night of the spoken word featured poets Malika Booker, Niall O’Sullivan, and Talia Randall.

Part poetry, part performance, the trio read or recited their work in a gently entertaining style that was inclusive, mildly amusing and at times quite touching. Several poems were met with muted applause due to their reflective nature rather than not ringing true. Anna’s opening poem about becoming her friend’s birthing companion was funny, witty and contained acutely accurate observations about a new baby that smells of ham.

Talia’s first poem Salt charting her look-back-in-embarrassment experience of revisiting her student haunts held the audience’s imagination with its universal theme of cringing at the pretentions of our youth.

Niall O’Sullivan was an altogether different type of poet. He spoke in scraps of prose as though mentally revisiting a note book of ideas still in a state of composition. A strong performer O’Sullivan also conveyed his political stance on the monarchy, UKIP and racists, before admitting through verse he’d shaken hands with the Queen.

To complete the evening a denim and leather clad Malika Booker read from her book about her mother’s irritating shopping habits and a poem that chimed with many about her mum’s sayings. But her lilting sing-song voice describing her Aunt’s last hours repeatedly rolling her fingers over her rosary as she prepared for the end were haunting with their images of hospitals, soiled sheets and a once full-of-life woman slowly slipping away.

Four stars                     

Harry Mottram