A few weeks ago I went to Howl a free poetry night -at Sun at the Station pub in Kings heath- hosted by Leon Preistnessel. The first time I went to Howl, about April time, there was quite a small audience gathered there, maybe twenty people tops? Now the audience has grown to about fifty/sixty people. Fuelled by the high energy host, a bit of alcohol and the amazing talent of all the poets, Howl makes for an excellent night out. I arrived there early in order to get my usual seat with my friends, as always as the room began to fill, the noise rose, and I could feel the anticipation grow. Leon made his typical dramatic entrance on stage, not waiting for the audience to quiet slowly for him, instead just blasting us with his poetry, immediately grabbing all of our attention. He drummed the audience up in a high state of excitement, which he managed to maintain through the night. For each open mic-er he enthusiastically introduced them, making each one feel welcome and confident on the stage.
Last night, I figured that to have an event as successful as Howl, there needed to be a good amount of advertisement, talent and a fast pace. As a host, Leon is filled with charisma and runs a slick show, getting the poets on and off stage with little faff in between, keeping hold of the audience’s attention and maintaining the high energy atmosphere through the night. The venue is spacious, decorated very artily and holds a raised platform with lights and a sound system, lending a professional –but still comfortable- vibe to Howl.
With what I learnt from Howl, I think for Odd Socks to run a successful event, we need to rev up the interest in it, with plenty of advertising; flyers, posters, word of mouth and most importantly, social networking. I noticed that last night there were a lot of university students, so obviously uni campuses would be good to survey. Being an avid follower of poetry events in Birmingham, many of the people I saw last night I had seen at various other events. Therefore, using word of mouth and advertising at the other events would help gather more crowds.
Another important part of Howl that Odd Socks can take on board is the hosting style of Leon. He was very high energy, and before the performances started, he went to each performer to let them know the order of which they were performing, and giving words of advice to those who were nervous. He also planned out the order of the poets, arranging them to contrast against each other. He was able to grab the audience’s attention and keep it for the rest of the night, and keeping the applause going for every performer, making them each feel welcome.
All in all, Howl is definitely one of the best poetry nights in Birmingham and is certainly my favourite one to attend. Hopefully when we start running our events they will be just as popular. The next Howl is on the ninth of December, featuring Keri Davies, Georgia Tindale and the writer of this entry Flora Slorach! For more information about Howl, click on the link below. Hope to see some of you guys there! Keep watch on this blog for more updates on what’s going on with us.