Photograph: Jonathan Parker (Spurious Nonsense Photography)
For some time now local poets, musicians and storytellers have been descending on Ouseburn to showcase their talents at ‘Jibba Jabba’, a monthly open-mic night at the Cumberland Arms.
Now, thanks to Apples and Snakes, England’s leading organisation for performance poetry, Jibba Jabba are able to bring in some of the UK’s best spoken word artists to perform alongside them.
“It’s my job to support spoken word in this region, from developing artists’ skills to putting on workshops,” explains Kirsten Luckins, North East Programme Coordinator for Apples and Snakes.
She continues: “One thing we’ve been experimenting with and settled on here is that it’s good to be in a programming partnership. We already have a really thriving scene in the North East so we help people like Jenni [who runs Jibba Jabba] with her night by paying for a headline spoken word act to come in.”
Jenni Pascoe established Jibba Jabba in 2010, having been inspired by attending a spoken word night for the very first time the previous year. “The first one was ten people in a room just taking turns on the microphone,” she remembers. “Just a few mates, and then it gradually got bigger and bigger.
“A space at the Cumberland became available and I just thought ‘I can’t possibly pass up the opportunity to have it at the Cumberland Arms’.
“I love the area. It has its own little community without being cliquey, it’s just a place to go for diversity that you don’t get often in the centre of town.”
Diversity was on display at the first full-blown collaboration night on Thursday 26th September.
Apples and Snakes brought in James McKay, fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe, who performed extracts from his ‘Popular Reciter’ show. Other performances came from a didgeridoo player, an array of local poets and musicians, and acclaimed prose writer Tony Williams, winner of the 2013 Saboteur Award for his short story collection ‘All the Bananas I’ve Never Eaten’.
“What’s fascinating is there is still such a Geordie respect for people who get up and perform. It might be balloon modelling, it might be doing a poem, it might be singing a song or something, but you get up, and people give you a lot of respect and really enjoy themselves.”
Speaking of the newly formed collaboration between Jibba Jabba and Apples and Snakes he suggests: “I think it’s the first step towards world domination!”
Judging by the strong turn-out and a reception warmer than the Cumberland’s fireplace, this surely cannot be far off!
The next Jibba Jabba takes place Thursday 24 October, 7.30pm at the Cumberland Arms. £4 on the door
Headliner will be acclaimed Trinidadian poet and musician Roger Robinson, launching his new collection ‘The Butterfly Hotel’. Find out more about his work here.