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December 05, 2013
Dereham Times Review of From Creation To Cromer
From Creation To Cromer by Gareth Calway.
Elsing Village Hall, Saturday 26th October.
Mention poetry to most people and the reaction usually garners a whole range of misconceptions and prejudices towards the form. Why does the general public have such a problem with the “P” word? It is, after all, only an imaginative arrangement of words making use of the amazing diversity of the English language, often with some sort of rhyming scheme and definitely embracing a strong sense of rhythmic flow; in fact all the elements found within a pop song, but without the music! So why is poetry seen as being difficult to comprehend or dull and irrelevant to today?
It was therefore possibly a daring idea to promote Gareth Calway’s new show at Elsing Village Hall, From Creation To Cromer, as a “stand up poetry performance” but this was certainly no dry monotone recitation of dusty old verse. The idea behind the show was to start at the beginning; the beginning of everything in fact and to take a journey through time from the first days of creation up to living in Norfolk today.
The show started with a sequence of poems and spoken word pieces centred on the first six days of creation. The poem “Comet” likened the birth of the universe to a sort of cosmic “fart” and saw Calway speaking whilst circumnavigating the hall on a trajectory representing the flight path of his subject. “Animal” was performed on all fours as Calway took on the personas of the creatures he mentioned, even at one stage howling wolf-like at the moon. By the end of the first half the audience were certainly in no doubt what “performance poetry” entailed and responded with appreciative and enthusiastic applause.
After the interval the advance through time continued encompassing a diverse range of themes, mostly with a Norfolk slant. Boudica’s uprising against the might of Rome was portrayed as a punk rock band on tour. The more personal pieces of poetry were introduced with wry and sometimes moving anecdotes and included such diverse subjects as studying at UEA in the 1970s, observations upon the game of football (Calway was club poet for Bristol City FC) and the profession of teaching. Drawing the evening to a close, Calway's love of Norfolk was evident through poems about Sedgeford, Kings Lynn, Walsingham and Great Yarmouth. The poetical journey finally arrived at Cromer upon a stormy night when Fairport Convention played at the end of the pier. Calway’s painstaking observation manages to capture the feel of the county in his poems, from its rural depths to the bright lights of the seafront, evoking that strong sense of place which connects the human spirit to the landscape. Poetry; dull, boring and irrelevant? Not when it’s impassioned, witty, nostalgic and poignant writing performed with a total belief in every word.