ECWS Starts Year Well

Thursday, 19th October 2017

Bar 46


The English and Creative Writing Society have fired the starting gun for a year of fun, with an impressive first open mic held at Bar 46. The evening was a great chance to see first-hand the diversity of talent on offer in Aberystwyth. There were poetry recitals, live music performances, and storytelling. The Courier was there for the evening.


Poetry was a recurring feature through the setlist, which itself was diverse, and was always insightful and food-for-thought. ECWS-regular Rosie Maley kicked the evening off, sharing two profound pieces. Opening with Persephone, she immediately captivated the room and held everyone in a thrall. Pumpkin, her second poem, was a warm and autumnal piece which brought to life a season which is so often associated with death and cold. Public speaking and performing, and especially going first, is never easy but Rosie gave us an amazing opening, which set the tone for the rest of the evening.

ECWS Veep Ivy Napp offered heart-warming takes on ordinary life. Her poem To Do List dissects the challenges of modern life, from cleaning to keeping up with friends to the existential. Always an emotive and clever writer, Ivy’s the reigning Poetry Slam champion, and a crowd-pleaser whose charismatic and characterful writing is always well-received.

Leanne Nulty took a similar approach, with her piece The Terror of Retail. Fusing the funny with the deeply observant, Leanne has always been good at cutting through the noise but with a humorous knife. Despite having a strong hand in comedic observations of the not-so-funny real world, Leanne also read her poem Next Door, an account of a troubled family in a community where speaking truth to power is rarely easy. Balancing the serious and surreal, Leanne has a way with words which carried the audience through each piece and reaffirmed her as an amazing performer.

Bee Malin returned to the stage, and electrified the room with poetic tales of late-night living. Exciting the audience will a confessional commentary on the trials of being young, she received a standing ovation for her piece, Damn the Dark/Damn the Light.

Jacob Hume, another stage regular, gave a dramatic reading of his dystopian-minded poem, Bluebird. Informed by his study of Drama, Jacob has a great manner on stage and gives emotive and captivating performances. Always a wonder to watch live, his political bards and examinations of the topical is splendid.

Making his debut for ECWS, Will Lyon read three environmentally-minded poems. Sea is a deeply reflective ballad, Walks in the Wilderness was a gentle performance, and Longing looked over his fascination with the outdoors. All in all, he’s a budding poet and performer, and well worth looking out for.

Other honourable mentions include:  ECWS President Alex Hubbard for his commentary of the wonder of the freedom and privilege to play and pretend violence; Stuart Ford’s nature triple; Steven Feeney’s assault on the ontological, via a discussion on the afterlife; Luke Philips for his melodramatic and comedic take of domesticity and ASM President Harley Dalton’s piece on ethics of meat consumption, Dragon Meat.


Along with numerous poetry performances, there were some short story readings. Chloe Hunter read her story, at the time untitled, which detailed a murder and flirted with psychological thriller, gothic horror, and slasher violence. It was meant with more standing ovation, and chilled the room to their collective core. Dan Davies counterbalanced this with a piece which nodded at the confessional and intimate, and the reflective and retrospect. Thinking back on love and romance, Dan took the audience through several stages of introspection, and meditated on love in the modern day.


Comedy came courtesy of Rebecca Boru, Jacob McMorrow and Richard Herring (not the regular from Radio 4). Rebecca delivered a flurry of one-liners, each timed perfectly and hitting the audience in feels. Funny for her full three minutes, Becca finished with a few old favourites. Where Becca had been as precise as a sniper with her gags, McMorrow went in gun-blazing. Bouncing through his acerbic witticisms on Tinder, friends, and sex, he used speed to his advantage as the audience clung to his every word. Finishing the comedy for the evening, Richard borrowed the staple of late-night talkshow hosts: the conversational and accessible gag, which mocked the serious but with a light-hearted chuckle. America and its President, life in Aber, and open mic itself were all critically examined, with laughs from all corners for his set.


Music was the final feature of the evening. Starting the music, Dan Rowley played earnest, heartfelt original material. Marcy Barnett covered Oh Comely by Neutral Milk Hotel: an emotive and fierce ballad, Marcy captured every ounce of spirit and voice the song’s fire brilliantly. Crowd-favourite Kirsten Förster performed another acoustic set, with an incredible cover of Daughter’s Landfill. Eli Rowson performed more acoustic pieces, baritone and weathered vocals rumbling through the room. Nabil Babbar beatboxed brilliantly, energising the crowd with his intricate and mesmerising patterns, and perfect technique. Aber duo The News Foundation played psychedelia and shoegaze that nods at Pink Floyd and Tame Impala. Tom ‘The Music Man’ closed the evening with his acoustic remix of various hip-hop classics, including Macklemore’s Thrift Shop and Eminem’s record-setting section from Rap God.



As the crowds left for home, we caught up with Alex Hubbard. Reflecting on the evening, he told us, “I really enjoyed my performance. It was great to get such a lovely reaction, it shows what a supportive and fantastic bunch attend the open mics.” On the evening as a whole he added, “I think we’re seeing the open mics become a culture focus in Aber. There’s such a brilliant mix…” There were smiles all round for the ECWS Committee, Bar 46, the performers and the audience.

It’s safe to say that everyone’s looking forward to the next.