She Stole My Rock 'n' Roll, Jet Black Cat Music, May 19
“Give me a story that won’t put me to sleep” was the opening line of She Stole My Every Rock ‘n’ Roll
, and that’s what was delivered in the exquisitely exalted spoken word performance at Anywhere Festival
. Starring Betsy Turcot and Eleanor Jackson, the night at Jet Black Cat Music was perhaps one of the most romantic, but also saddening and maddening performances I’ve witnessed. But what else can be expected from a poetry performance about love.
It isn’t obvious at first how the night will play out. Starting off, a woman stands and recites the first poem, another woman walks from the back of the room and starts to recite her poem. The night is then spent as almost a debate between the two poets with each rebutting the previous poem. Yet as it unfolds you realise they’re not debaters of the traditional sort. Instead they are lovers and their poems are soaked with the human emotion of what it means to be loved and what it’s like to love no longer.
Ultimately it’s the trial and joy that everyone knows, and that’s what seems to make the night so personal and what causes the poets to give themselves to us. They encapsulate how love can develop from the first glance or a first encounter and the ride it takes from there. As the poets said “We all know the dance, so I try to dance it right. We all know the dance, so I try to dance it with you”. It builds to find the beauty in the week-to-week routine one learns in love - “the ordinary you would share with no other”. But the safety and comfort found in routine turns into the mundane and stifling as the relationship crumbles.
The site of the poetry reading, a small but renowned record store in West End (the kind of record store where movies are set), is no accident. The characters meet at a record store and the poems consistently make reference to artists from Adele to Marvin Gaye. The title of the night, She Stole My Every Rock ‘n’ Roll
further builds up the musical allusions, as every instance in which the lovers have an encounter there is a song to be heard. The now ex-lovers have reached a point where music so pervades their encounters that songs are no longer free and have become encased in the memory of the person they used to love; a situation to which many of us can relate. Nor did they speak their lines the way you imagine a Harvard literature major might, but made their poems both intensely personal and openly universal. It radiated the falsities of love, but also spoke of the ideas of love we all have a sneaking hope to be true (“We are each others enough, and that is love”).
The political is also explored through the poet’s lesbian love as one suggests, “Lets make a baby”. The ramifications of such a statement aren’t skimmed over. Even more amusing is the way in which the male fascination with lesbian sex is ridiculed and denoted as just a mere male pastime.
Overall it was an exhausting experience with so much happening in just one small hour. Though if I were emotionally drained by the end I wondered how the women must have felt; reliving it every night and giving their all in each performance.