Welcome to LiteRARy, a new blog feature where I document my time interning at Rhyme and Reason, a spoken word night based in Bath. LiteRARy will be a regular feature where I reflect on the things I’ve learnt from helping to run RAR, and will also act as a sort of diary / keepsake too!
Something I’ve taken from my short time at Rhyme and Reason is that complications can teach good lessons about project management. As an individual, I’m not the best at coping when things go wrong, I like to have everything planned out to a tee – but hiccups will happen and you have to let them run their course. So taking a deep breath and thinking up creative solutions is key!
By the end of Freshers’ Week, I’d had my first poetry night under my belt. A few mistakes here and there, but generally big smiles from me. The first event of the year was at The Brewhouse in Bath, where we pay professional performance poets (e.g. Jasmine Gardosi) to headline at the event, and is a more formal setting as this is where RAR gets it revenue to book in fab headliners all year.
Because of my mostly positive experience on Wednesday, I felt confident when Friday rolled around for our second event of the academic year at Bath Spa’s SU. RAR’s events at the SU are way more casual and are also free entry to encourage both amateurs and regulars to perform at our nights. It was the way I discovered RAR in first year!
After fiddling with the camera equipment hours before The Brewhouse night, charging up the camera and transporting it, the SU event felt like a breeze. I was starting to feel a bit more confident in my role as an intern. I knew what I had to do and when I had to do it.
When Billie, Eleanor, and I all met up before the night, a few hiccups cropped up. At Rhyme and Reason, the way we organise our set lists is through the Facebook event pages, where people can ask for performance slots prior to the event. The complication we had was that a lot of our poets for the night cancelled on the day, meaning we wouldn’t have enough poets to last two halfs.
By meeting an hour before the event, we were able to sit down and sort through our options. Billie is a credit to Rhyme and Reason, as she calmly sat down and practically discussed our predicament and how we might go about a solution. Ideas were thrown about, but the decision was made that the event would be cancelled. Eleanor and I ran a casual poetry workshop to compensate for cancelling the open mic, and a cluster of people who originally turned up to the night were interested in getting some feedback from us.
Although it was unfortunate to cancel the event, it was really great to get to know some of our regular poets. They read us their rough drafts of poems and me and Eleanor suggested ways they could improve them, both written and in performance. It was encouraging to see how serious and passionate these people were for spoken word poetry, and how our events are helping them to gain confidence and find their own performance and written style. I know that for me, RAR sparked my passion for spoken word poetry, so I feel proud to intern with them and give back what I can in commitment and enthusiasm.
In terms of reflection, I’ve learnt that the day of your event can sometimes be central to audience turn out. Our Brewhouse event had been full because it was early in Freshers’ Week and students were keen to see what was going on in Bath and around the uni. Our SU event however was later on in the week, when nights of partying and freshers’ flu had taken their toll on our audience.
As well as considering the day an event happens, I’ve also learnt that we have to monitor our competitors e.g. other poetry nights that happen around the Bath and Bristol area who will attract our own audience. The best way to have a decent audience is to arrange a date that isn’t too close to our competitors’ events, but then again, clashes happen, and the show must go on sometimes.
Overall, I think we coped well as a team on that night, and I feel confident that we’ll handle any of our future problems with calmness, creativity, and a smile!