Read ‘Down the Local’, a poem by poet, writer and creative producer Charley Genever which captures the memory and feelings of some of her favourite pubs in the East of England.
Charley’s poem is part of Winter Warmers, a collection of seven heart-warming poems about pubs, specially commissioned by INN CROWD with support from Regional Literature Development Agencies across the country (including the National Centre for Writing). The poems have been written by poets in six regions across England with the aim of bringing cheer and hope to publicans, their staff and their local communities and to help keep people connected people during this challenging start to 2021. Read all of the poems here.
You can read Charley’s poem below or watch her perform it from our very own Dragon Hall!
Down the Local
She texts: wanna go out?
and before I know it I’m down the local
where pints are beacons:
liquid flames flickering from hand to hand
like the passing of an Olympic torch.
Here, we’re all chasing something:
lulled lights, a spot on the open mic, a night soaked
in hope. She asks what I’m having and I laugh
babe, I’m a Genever, my surname is literally Dutch for gin.
Here, we’re slices of the same lemon:
where little monkeys hang from mum’s glass of pop,
where let’s get a round in means one for the gent
sat at the bar, his black dog sleeping at his feet.
Here, the walls don’t talk because they’re listening.
We get to the pith of a person so easily,
all segment smiles and pip-like teeth
spilling stories into brickwork seams.
We spend our weekend here, sitting cosy ‘til closing time.
Safe, warm, watching a stag do dance with the WI
while we squeeze in another round.
Listening to this poem really transports you to the warm intimacy of a pub open mic night, avidly watching brilliant performers! In a Q&A, Charley shared what getting involved with the Winter warmers campaign meant to her:
‘It has been a brilliant chance for me to give something back, particularly at a time like this. I think pubs are such creative spaces, and I love being a part of a project that is celebrating community and creativity.’
You can access the rest of the Q&A here. Her beautifully rendered poem definitely reminds us of the importance of supporting small businesses, like local, rural pubs. Hearing and sharing the work of local writers is a fundamental part of upholding a community.
Charley Genever is a poet, writer, and creative producer. Living and working from Peterborough, she is a former Peterborough Poet Laureate, vice chair of Syntax Poetry Festival, and manager of the Laureate programmes. She has worked with the likes of Tate Britain, The Mighty Creatives, METAL, and Nene Park Trust. In 2019 she was long-listed for the category of ‘Best Spoken Word Film’ in the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry awards. Her debut collection, ‘Unsexed’ was published in 2017 (BX3). She has also been published in multiple anthologies including ‘The Great British Write Off’ (Bonacia), Poetry Rivals 2015 (Poetry Rivals), ‘Madder Than We Look’ (Write Minds), and ‘WOMAN’ (Mud Press).
INN CROWD is a partnership between Applause and Creative Arts East with support from the National Centre for Writing, New Writing South and Pub is the Hub. It is funded by Arts Council England.