A Lyrical Death Match

I promised to write a post about the Lyrical Death Match last Sunday but because I was working I didn’t see enough to be able to do it justice. Luckily, Stuart Innes agreed to take over blogging responsibility. You may remember Stuart from guest posts such as Theme and Throughlines in Screenwriting,…OK, that’s the only one, but it’s a very good one and it still gets a fair amount of traffic.

Over to you, Stuart…

Helen pounced on me in the street. She pressed a flyer into my hand. It read “Lyrical Death Match” – a no-holds-barred title fight between book publishers Cargo and indie music label Chemikal Underground. The whole thing was being held in a cave, or The Caves or something.

Death. Caves. That edgy way they spelt chemical with a “K“. My primal, lizard brain pulsed urgently, told me to lay my cash at the door and head on inside.

Author and comedienne A L Kennedy was on stage, channeling her inner Doctor Who, all highly caffeinated and dressed in layers. Master of Ceremonies, she introduced the night’s acts.

First came the short stories: Kirsten Innes’s woozy tale of a drunken hen night, then one from Rodge Glass about three adolescent boys forced to take sides in a bitter divorce.

Next, a Bruce Springfield-referencing poetry reading (‘Darkness on the Edge of Toast’) from Ryan Van Winkle.  After that, Kennedy returned to read an excerpt from her forthcoming novel – an over-thinking-it inner-monologue about kisses, hugs, sex, love, and how it all inevitably leads to violent, bludgeony death inside a sofa shop. My personal highlight of the evening.

After the interval, Doug Johnstone previewed a couple of chapters from his shiny new novel ‘Smokeheads‘, then sang cheerily about car-crashes for a bit.

Alan Bissett was less cheery. He’d had his heckles raised by an article in this week’s NME calling Bono the worst frontman in rock, and felt compelled to mount a defence by reading aloud some of the U2 singer’s most profound quotes. The audience remained largely unconvinced.

The evening ended with a double bill of musical acts. Lord Cut-Glass, fronted by Alun Woodward, proved that accordions and rock music can indeed live in harmony, and then Woodward’s fellow ex-Delgado, Emma Pollock, brought matters to a close with a flurry of alt-rock guitars and lyrics that may or may not have made sense. Pollock noted that she used to find writing songs daunting, but then she listened to Pavement and realised that lyrics don’t actually have to make any sense at all!! (Sample Pavement lyric: I sneezed cornflakes down to my nose, He’s got a chrome-plated baby so it knows where it goes.)

And that was it! Four hours had passed. No death, no blood, not even so much as a maiming. But while my gore-thirsty lizard brain may have felt duped and cheated by the whole affair, the rest of me walked out into the cold night air feeling very happy with the way the evening had gone.

I almost wanted to sing.

But probably not about cornflakes.

Thank you, Stuart. An appetite-whetting post. Before we all head over to the Let’s Get Lyrical website to listen to audio clips from the Lyrical Death Match, there’s one question that needs to be answered: when are you starting up your own blog?


7 thoughts on “A Lyrical Death Match

  1. Hey Helen, happy to be of assistance. It was a really fun night.

    As for me blogging, I have given it some thought before. The consensus seems to be that writers should self-promote, so as soon as I have a product worth promoting, I guess I’ll take the plunge. Yikes! I’ll probably be asking for your advice… a lot!

    • Yes, I did. But it was his own fault. He was walking along, not really looking where he was going. He was asking to be startled. I think I even shouted “boo!”

    • Talli, I can confirm that there was indeed pouncing, and yes, even a “boo”.

      Frankly, the woman’s a menace.

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