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Saturday 15th October
Empty Shop HQ
Review by Chase Miller


Poets are an odd breed. An artsy breed. They’re a pretentious lot too, they really are. I think you have to be, to be a poet. Of course, I can say all these things, being one. If pretentiousness was ripeness in the orchard of poets I’d be the poet everyone picked first (see what I mean?). So the poets at Knee Deep were my kind of people.

By the second weekend of Durham Book Festival, admittedly, I was tired. So I was quite confused walking into the Empty Shop HQ before the show. I accidentally walked into the bar, mindlessly navigating the people in front of me. Surprising myself, and walking awkwardly back out, I mumbled at one of the volunteers asking whether the only other door they were standing by would lead me to the show. They giggled and nodded. I stumbled by and found a seat.

The Knee Deep crew were missing two poets, which meant the show only lasted around 40 minutes. This was, of course, enough time to fit the four poet’s content in; and they were performed beautifully, too. The artsiness of the poets, along with the artsiness of the venue really helped create an appropriate atmosphere but even without this, the poetry would have been good enough to entertain. There were one or two really powerful pieces, about such varying topics as love and our human abuse of the ocean resources.

The project’s writer in residence performed some Edgar Allen Poe works put to music and sang, which was especially powerful and caught the audience’s imagination. I enjoyed her voice, and thought her parents coming out to help her perform was a nice touch.

Overall, Knee Deep was an interesting event – enthralling at times – despite it being very short in the end. The poetry was thoughtful and provoking, and as such I would recommend checking out the Knee Deep project as a whole.