Photo of Brian Bilston reading a book

Brian Bilston at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester – 20th September 2023

For the first night of Brian Bilston’s – real name Paul Millicheap – national poetry tour, the glorious Huntingdon Hall was filled to capacity – fittingly!

Accordingly, the pyrotechnics display lit up the room like a controlled bomb explosion. Cloying dry ice filled every crevice of the building’s interior. The sequined dancers added to the spectacle and the gyrations and contortions only underlined the sense of anticipation…

In reality, without any drama the unassuming poet took to his stage; an understated stage consisting of a microphone, a table and a few well-thumbed books. This is live poetry writ large!

The poet has forged his accidental poetry career with the help of a social media “storm”. However, live, Brian Bilston offers up no theatrical drama. Bilston’s deadpan delivery is drier than fifty year old RAAC. However, his joyous poetry is the mix of – the human condition, comedy and political commentary – cementing the foundations of a memorable night out.

A memorable event filled with poems about Elvis, Frisbee the dog and a love poem taken from google searches. Moreover, the poetic tribute to the enmity created by the D*ily M*il brought more than a knowing titter. The line: “Even if I were blind and it was the only thing in Braille, I still would not read the Daily Mail,” triggered laughter cannoning off the walls with faux-shock hands over mouths.

For the second half of the evening Bilston treated the assembled to a comedic masterclass on how to write poetry. Informing all: “there was an on-line course, consisting of 90 minute sessions, in 72 parts, for £25 an episode” I think he was joking. Throughout, the jocular segues were laugh out loud funny. The focus may have been on structure, tone, language and techniques but the lesson learnt was Bilston understands comedy timing.

Mark Twain declared – “Easy reading was difficult writing” – Brian Bilston made the night’s entertainment look and sound easy. His words and language choices lit up the room. His rhyming and non-rhyming verses permeated every crevice of the glorious Hall’s interior. And his sequined poetry underlined why so many had joined him at the Huntingdon Hall to hear one man, with a microphone, an anonymous table and a few well-thumbed books.

The metaphoric thumbs-up from the satisfied audience must have been the lines of patient signature hunters who threaded back into the hall afterwards. Coupled with the autograph hunters who wound back-up the stairs the door of the bar…to meet this unassuming poet who had just held the audience in his palm with a handful of fitting poems.

By: The Swilgate Scuttler

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