Billed as ‘the poetry night for those who don’t usually like poetry’, Bang Said The Gun must be doing something right.

It was the biggest crowd I’ve seen at a poetry event, and I’ve been to quite a few. From tiny readings in bookshops to larger gatherings in lecture halls, none have gone all out for the Tiswas atmosphere (vintage TV reference alert) like Bang. They had us rattling old plastic bottles filled with rice, batting dozens of balloons overhead, and following the lead of the (un)fortunate front-row punter given a Dr Seuss type hat and nominated as the crowd-rousing ‘Hatalyst’.

It was all good doolally fun, but I wondered if its purpose was to pad out a slim programme of five poets reading for 15 minutes or less. It seemed at times as if the poetry was being treated as the boring but obligatory bit, and stretching out the blaring feel-good playlist and waving a placard telling us to ‘rattle’ would keep the crowd happier than actually, you know, hearing some poetry.

Tonight’s poets were Martin Galton, Laurie Bolger, Innua Ellams, Rob Auton and Joelle Taylor. Galton had us chiming back ‘rude bastards’ for his list of modern bugbears, and shared the truth of two old men who asked, ‘What’s the secret?’ – ‘burpin’ and fartin’’. Making the biggest impact, for me, was Taylor, who dared the frightened, angry and powerless teenager in us all to find the courage to speak, as well as showing us how its done by sharing her gut-punching autobiographical piece on childhood sexual assault. The best comic and leftfield observational voice was Rob Auton, who informed us that water is ‘soup for people who don’t like ingredients; or soup’ and that water smells of ‘orange cordial, before the orange cordial has been added’.


Bang Said The Gun: Dan Cockrill, Laurie Bolger, Rob Auton, Martin Galton, Inua Ellams and Joelle Taylor.

Performed: Sat 19 May, 8pm at the St George’s Church.

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