It was fun. How could it be otherwise with Jerome Kugan and Jasmine Low at the helm doing their witty double act?
"Jacob wants to know if there is a poetry circle here in KL," Jerome said as an opener "There's certainly a fraternity of people who love poetry, and the poets here are starting to come out of the closet".
A big cheer from the large and enthusuatic audience.
Roy (aka Fairul Nizam Ablah) took the stage first. He's grown in confidence since his first readings at Seksan's and Indie Scene Cafe. He read a poems about sexually abused kids, one written after a break-up, and his poem about the corrupt traffic policeman. He finished with i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings.
Catalina Rebuyan, currently doing her Masters in English Lit at Universiti Malaya and part-time tutor, is poet to watch out for. I really enjoyed her poem about the way the hills were cut for a road and how the layers of earth looked like a cake.
Jacob Sam-La Rose read (among others) Bacchanal, about the Notting Hill Carnival:
Carnival nights, it was all too easy to get caught:another about having a crush on a girl he saw on the bus each day but never had the courage to actually speak to (and who couldn't identify with that?), another about the absence of his father from his life. He had such a warm, easy manner that his poems were like a conversation with a friend.
caught in the current of that river.
A river of bodies that flooded the streets
streets anchored to system sounds of floats ...
After the interval Jerome read some new work: a poem entitled How the Statue Became a Poet, and An Exploded View of a Woman's Torso (complete with hammed-up reverberation!), before Jacob came back for a second set.
Jasmine and Jerome had him answering questions from the audience first though.
"What's the one book on poetry you must read?" asked someone. The book he recommended is American Poetry: The Next Generation.
Jacob had the audience joining in with the refrain in I Want to Be ... then went on to read a hip-hop poem, then his poem Framents:
Have my fingers traced the same curious pathsa poem called Algebra written at the back of a maths class in Chicago (he was accompanying the winners of The London Teenage Poetry Slam) and falling into the same kind of daydream he used to fall into during his own school days:
as others that have known the glazed skin
of the thin scar on your left thigh?
Does the way you arch your back
belong to me?
... I daydream thatbefore ending with a love poem for his mother (because he said, if he read a poem about his dad and not one about his mum, and his mum got to hear about it, she would be mad with him.)
maybe there's music in these numbers.
If x were a tree, and y were a sound,
negative a over b might equal
the Chicago wind, a bow string of air
making me sing. ...
Jacob certainly created the kind of magic that had the audience exploding with a spontaneous "Yay" of approval for the more upbeat pieces, or sighing a sympathetic "ahhh" for the sadder ones.
There was an open mic segment next. I'm a bit blur here as to who the first two young chaps actually were (one extremly expensive cocktail too many, Sharon?), the first told me later he has a band called Marionexxes (he read a very strange piece Great Expectations in a weird voice), the other wrote his name in my notebook as Imrul Kamal (is that right?).
By this stage the lights kept going out, and some poets had to read by candlelight.
British Council's Reezal Esa read about how it is to love someone who doesn't love you back. And if Reezal was deliberately joking around, I reckon it was a counterbalance to the pain and rejection in the poem.
Bernice Chauly read some new work, poems about nursing her mother sick with cancer, watching her slip away. (Could identify with that too.) Then Azwan Ismail read but after poem four I slipped out to get a taxi home. Escaped with my unread poem in hand.
If you missed last night you have another chance to see Jacob on saturday afternoon at The Food Foundry, and you can also enjoy some of his poetry online.
I bought his chapbook capable of kissing scars. (I do like this chapbook idea.)