Personal Profile: Jeff Hilson
Review of Jeff Hilson at the College Bar, Camden, NW1, 8th September 2004
Last night, Amil Patel and I attended "THREE POETS meet THREE musicians" an evening of entertainment, which included a poetry reading given by Jeff Hilson to the accompaniment of violin playing. I thought it only fair to share the experience with you all.
The event was held at the "College Bar" in Camden. Much to our surprise, this was nothing to do with any university or college, but was a rather rough 1960s built public house on the edge of a council estate, with most of the regular customers either Hackett-wearing teenagers or middle-aged, red-faced chaps of Irish descent. These clearly clashed with the poetry aficionados.
The first "act" consisted of a besuited chap spewing forth Marxist polemics, while either running around the bar, lying on the floor or standing on chairs. This was accompanied by some rather bizarre bassoon playing, which at times sounded like someone breaking wind loudly. The poet did throw in some amusing ad libs ("Turn off that answer phone! Or is its name a mobile phone?"), but I was a little bemused by it all. However, Amil enjoyed it. The locals weren't so keen with one chap putting his head around the pub door to exclaim "This is all f***ing b****cks".
Jeff Hilson was the next act to appear. Jeff recited some splendid verse, referring again to his "stem". Halfway, through the act, Jeff stopped speaking for five minutes, and proceeded to scrawl barely intelligible words around the pub walls in a fine display of visual poetry. Jeff then resumed his act, with many references to his schooldays thrown in to the verse - "Bedford", "blancmange", "old man's organs". I thoroughly enjoyed this combination of spoken and visual poetry, which was wonderfully capped off by the berserk violin playing.
Following an interlude, Jeff's friend and headline poet, Sean Bonney, entered the fray. Sean appears to be a favourite of the London poetry scene and on the evidence of this performance, it's easy to see why. Sean was accompanied by a grizzled saxophonist and rather respectable looking chap, who "played" both guitar and percussion. Sean launched into his reading with a full-on delivery, ranting barely intelligibly. He rocked his head from side to side, creating a "vibrato effect". This was genuinely powerful and entertaining stuff and each of his separate readings were greeted enthusiastically by an appreciative audience, but not so much by an increasingly drunk local contingent.
This was a genuinely entertaining evening and I would recommend that you all attend such an event in the future - I have recorded excerpts of the event on Luke Butler's mobile phone voice-mail and the evening was videoed by one keen spectator. What's more, there were one or two fit women in the audience. The next event is some time in October and I will let you have details nearer the time.
Auther: Mark Bradshaw
Editor: Mark Bradshaw: 27-11-2008