Cafe Espresso is a charming little coffee shop right next to Timepiece, so if nothing else, my visit to the Cafe Culture poetry event was worthwhile just for discovering the venue. I’d been to a few spoken word events in Exeter already this year but mostly with local poets, so I was looking forward to seeing what students would come up with.
The Cafe is quite small and quickly filled up. The night kicked off with Lydia Vincent reading her piece ‘Little Red Doc Marten Boots’, which was full of wordplay and intertextual references. She was followed by third-year English student Josh Creek, who read two moving poems about depression and mental illness that had some audience members close to tears.
Exeposé Online Books editor Sophie Harrison was next to take the stage. She read three original poems, with strong imagery focusing on water, flowers and the natural world. The poems were intimate and explored the overlooked beauty of everyday life. After Sophie was regular performer Julian Isaacs, whose fluent delivery and clever references clearly showed his experience. Julian read a range of short and long poems, including ‘Rockabye’, which was published in Razz Magazine just last week.
After a short interval there was a lovely acoustic set by Tom Elliot, including tracks from ‘Out There’, his recent debut EP, and some new material for upcoming release. I’ve seen Tom perform several times before around the university but he never ceases to impress, and this time his soulful voice and poignant lyrics were an excellent fit for the venue and the tone of the evening.
The evening was rounded up by poet and comedian Dan Squire, who read three comic poems. Dan’s set was longer than any of the other poets, but the time flew by as he had the audience in uproar with jokes about his inability to talk to girls, his ambitions to become a rap superstar, and his vegetarian diet. The comedy was woven into the dense, complex lyrics of the poetry, but his comic timing was excellent and the regular changes of pace kept the listeners on the edge of their seats.
Spoken word is a very hot trend at the moment, and events like Cafe Culture offer an excellent platform for aspiring poets to
increase their exposure. Organiser Sophie Dumont can be proud of the event, and hopefully the success will help to facilitate an even bigger event in second term at a larger venue.