Poetry is at the heart of our work - off the page, performed, interpreted in music, sound, art or dance. Alarms and Excursions is proud to break new ground in poetry and spoken word, either by performing our own work or by championing those for whom we have the greatest respect. We prefer to go our own way, into uncharted territories.
Take a look below at our projects grounded firmly in poetry!
An Oxford University Initiative. Building on initial contacts with Lancaster & Sussex Universites, we were privileged to present at this conference in Birmingham City University over the weekend of 1st and 2nd February 2019, with a thought provoking piece on the state of poetry on page and stage in the UK today. Find out more about this fascinating project by following the link here or watch a potted introduction on YouTube.
Alarms & Excursions founder Isabel curated the only monthly poetry & spoken word performance event in the City of London since the 1970s. This was presented in the former public baths at the St Bride Foundation. Having completed its third season, Wash House Poets is taking a break.
Wash House brought you the cream of the performance circuit, as well as exciting newcomers and the odd interloper. We have hosted John Hegley, Michael Horowitz, Daljit Nagra, Jessie Pie, Phoebe Stuckes, Dudley Sutton, Tim Wells & many, many more. Find out who else by clicking on the programme link below.
Away from the baths, Robin Pilcher has been headlining Beyond Words as well as fronting a new poetry group in South London. As I write this, Cassie is somewhere in the Arctic Ocean exploring the lost route to East Grinstead (at least that's what she told me from the Bridge of the Cruise Ship where she is resident for the second time). Meanwhile, we have not been idol (or Idle - we leave that to Eric). You may have caught us doing our new mini mash up of words and music Marinade of the Ancient Rhymers at St Leonards Festival and in the Sydenham & Summer Festivals in July 2017 and 2018. More recently we have been collaborating with the excellent wordsmith Mark 'Mr T' Thompson and his Grassroots empire, featuring online performers from all over the world
Jah Burns - Loud up dis gone puddin!
After a barnstorming event last January, we came back to do it all again on Friday 26th January 2018. The sell-out event brought us new audiences this year.
Not many people know that starving poet Robert Burns signed up for a job as bookkeeper on a plantation in Jamaica in 1786. He did not go in the end, but stayed to become a champion of underdogs everywhere - our kind of guy! (Last year, two events down, 27th January 2017, over 80 people turned up for Jah Burns - bekilted Colin from Guyana, Juan Pablo from Chile, Ida from Italy, our attentive Romanian waiter (thank you - I didn't catch your name - cllick on the image for the full menu), even people from Bethnal Green for goodness sake! (See the pics in our gallery) Will ye no come back again? (OK, so that was Caroline Oliphant, not oor Rab!).
In 2018, with our friendly restaurateur Mel Nugent (Blue Mountain Cafe, East Dulwich) stirring the pot, we added a sprinkling of Tam O' Shanter from Alain English (the Scottish guy) Racheal Joseph and Isabel, songs from musician Glenn Bassett and dancing courtesy of the amazing ceilidh band Step Lively! Will ye no come back again? Aye we will! (OK, so that was Caroline Oliphant, not oor Rab!).
You can see some of the images from both events here.
"A touch of magic at every corner. Tracey and I danced to the end of time and beyond all weekend after that!
Thank you", says Gavin
Mike says - "This gig is nuts!"
Marinade of the Ancient Rhymer
Ah harrrr Jim Lad - we've wrecked another Hesperus in St Leonards and Sydenham this summer with our new take on Coleridge's old potboiler, thanks to this 'Motley Crüe'. While some of the regulars are touring, stalwarts Irène, Robin and Isabel are here ably assisted by David Mosey (guitar), Graham Campbell (man in black) and Rosemary Yung (pipa).
As Part of St Leonards Festival 2016, we curated the poetry elements of the programme, including Return of the Codfather, a day by the sea for the fish (our charabanc of poets) leading the Grand Parade, followed by pop up poetry and spoken word all over town.
Residencies & Workshops
2018 brought us a chance to build on the workshops we ran last year at Sydenham School, Sydenham High School, The New Generation Leisure Centre and the Riverhouse Arts Centre in Walton on Thames. Isabel ran the first of this year's programmes as part of the Spring Margate Bookie Festival, working with a dozen young people at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. (More workshops followed this summer in Sydenham).
Isabel has delivered a number of residencies over many years, including:
First Stop Darlington, a charity supporting young people who were homeless, substance abusers or with mental health problems. We worked with the service users and local photographer Helen Shannon on a major exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of the charity.
Brendoncare, an old people’s charity based in the western home counties. We ran workshops and readings encouraging residents to tell their stories using poetry, spoken word and storytelling.
We have also run short residencies for the St Bride Foundation (2013), Urban Photofest (2015), Sydenham Arts (2017), St Leonards Festival (2016/17) and Platform 7 (2009 to date in Margate, Brockley, Catford, City of London...)