Thursday, 21 March 2013

Martin Figura: Whistle

There seem to be lots of poetry events on in Bristol and the surrounding area at present, and last night it was off to the Rondo theatre in Bath to see Martin Figura perform his show, Whistle.

Whistle is a collection of poems principally about Martin's childhood and the event which shaped the rest of his life for ever, the murder of his mother by his father when he was 9 years old.  If that sounds very challenging, well, it is, and while reading the sequence last week, I actually gasped, not so much at the murder (horrible as it is, you know as soon as you peruse the back cover that's what you're going to be reading about) but at the behaviour of his murdered mother's sister and her husband, who abandon their bereaved nieces and nephew and emigrate to Canada without explanation or farewell.

You might think this would make for a grim evening, but not a bit of it.  Accompanying the reading is a series of images and photographs which evoke British childhood in the 60s as well as providing a more personal context for some of the poems.  In addition, Martin links each poem with narratives that are warm and often amusing. I fell in love with Mrs Piggott, the matriarch next door who steps into the breach when the siblings find themselves dumped in children's homes and who apparently used to watch telly with a hen on her lap.

If you are in Liverpool on 29th March, Canterbury on 25th April or Exeter on 14th July, go and see the show.  If you think you don't like poetry, make doubly sure you go because odds are, you'll change your mind.


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