The Monthly interviews Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell from the Swindon based poetry event, Oooh Beehive – Part 1

When did you set up Oooh Beehive?

Clive Oseman

We both live in Swindon, although neither of us is from Swindon, and we both love poetry. We both love all genres or types of poetry: page, performance, literary, more immediate styles. But there was very little in Swindon particularly for more performance orientated poets.

Nick Lovell

There was a literary poetry event and we did go along to that event and while no-one there made us feel uncomfortable, our material was so dramatically different from what everyone else was doing it just wasn’t working for us. It was a very polite affair and I hadn’t realised there was such a sharp boundary between literary poetry and spoken word and I think we were on the other side of the boundary regarding that distinction.

Was that experience what lead you to setting up your own event?

Nick Lovell

We did talk a bit about setting up an event and eventually one of Clive’s friends asked the landlord at The Beehive Pub in Swindon if he could be allowed to organise an event for Clive’s birthday, about five years ago this was, and it was such fantastic success that we were asked to keep doing it.

Clive Oseman

That was the starting point but I do think that distinction between styles or forms of poetry is unnecessary. Ai our events, we aim to welcome everyone, all styles of writers and poets and regarding the first event, it was interesting because I had nothing to do on my birthday and so I put up a message on Facebook asking if there was any spoken word events in Swindon on August 7th and a friend of mine got back to me and said there was and I was hosting it.

What has been your experience of building the event since then?

Nick Lovell

It has had its ups and downs; we have had very well attended events and we have had moments where you feel as if you can’t keep going. There have a couple of times when that has happened because almost no-one turned up.

Clive Oseman

It has certainly been hard work and Nick’s right, it can be hard going at times. I remember some nights where you are thinking this isn’t working and you go along the next week and it is packed. You just have to keep going and you have to find the confidence somewhere that this will work.

How big was the space you were allocated?

Nick Lovell

We had a space, initially where we could probably fit 15 people but we have built that up and it has gone from strength to strength.

Clive Oseman

There have been a few events where people had to stand in the doorway of the pub because there wasn’t any room for them to get in.

What has been the format you have used?

Clive Oseman

Initially, we would just get those people who agreed to come along and I had a few connections in Birmingham and I asked them along, so we would have an initial introduction, then we had an open mic and then a headliner or a feature poet.

Nick Lovell

Clive and I would normally start off proceedings with a poem each, there might be a first feature, then an open mic, another feature, more open mic and a headliner and we would finish off the night. We have modified that approach slightly over the years.

We have grown enough that our live events now we generally would have the whole pub, rather than just a small area within it.

Do you get the professional touring poets coming your way?

Nick Lovell

All our events are free to attend so we are not working with a lot of funds. I can’t think if any touring poets or spoken word artists who have come our way without us contacting them first, but if anyone did, we would obviously look to giving them a feature spot.

Clive Oseman

What our starting point was, was to bring the scene to Swindon in whatever way we could. We pay our headliners out of our own pockets and we have committed to keeping the event going for as long as possible.

Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell

Part two of this interview is here

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