The Verse’s Kate Mager reviews Bang Said the Gun at the Brighton Festival, to find out if it really delivers ‘poetry for people who don’t like poetry.’
As the self-proclaimed ‘rowdiest poetry event in the universe’, ‘Bang said the Gun’ offers an evening of raucous behaviour and laughter intertwined with thought-provoking and emotional poetry. The show included five poets: Dan Cockrill, Laurie Bolger, Rob Auton, Martin Galton and Inua Ellams. They had fifteen-minute sections to share their work. The sound of DIY milk bottle shakers, games of ‘balloon from the back of the room’ and trips to the bar filled the gaps between the performances. Even the fifteen-minute poetry sections contained elements of stand-up. The audience was encouraged to shout, shake, Mexican-wave and even get up mid-poem for another drink.
A highlight was Rob Auton’s comical, yet strangely thought-provoking, poem about water. The poem examined everything from the state of humanity to the state of a cucumber. The way he delivered every line was spot on, with comic timing to perfection resulting in roars of laughter. This highly comedic performance was both contrasted and complemented by the other poets. Covering topics ranging from hard-hitting commentaries on abuse and sexual assault to more light-hearted explorations of class, gender, love and politics.
The broken-up bite-sized portions of poetry make ‘Bang said the Gun’ the perfect event for those new to poetry. Also for anyone bored of the standard poetry night, or even just for those looking for something a little different. However, the claim that this event is for people who don’t like poetry is perhaps a little far-fetched. Even with all the fun and games the night is ultimately about poetry and playing with shakers and a glorified game of ‘keep the balloon off the ground’, however fun that may have been, is not going to change that. Despite this, ‘Bang said the Gun’ definitely has the potential to convert previous sceptics and create new poetry fanatics. But it is not a miracle worker and is not necessarily for everyone.
I would encourage anyone who is unsure about poetry or interested in delving in for the first time to give ‘Bang said the Gun’ a go. It might not please everyone, but what it can do is provide a night of varied, current and accessible poetry. Plus, you never know, you might just enjoy it!