Strength to strength

You might think that after running Yes We Cant for some considerable time – originally in the Pretty Bricks pub in Walsall, moving online when the pandemic happened, and still there now – we’d be a little jaded. That we’ve seen it all. That it’s next to impossible to find quality poets to join us on the first Sunday of each month and share their work.

Dear reader, you’d be wrong. Each month, we’re stunned by the quality of the open mic poets, and awed by the craft of our features. And last night was no exception. Our ‘Alf Ender was Carol J Forrester, and if you’ve not heard her read yet, we recommend you do. Her work is beautifully layered and crafted. The quality of the open mics? We’re glad you asked. They were astounding. And our headliner, Nafeesa Hamid, knocked it right out of the park.

Nafeesa first headlined for us back in July 2019, when we were still in the Pretty Bricks and her book ‘Besharam’ had been published by Verve Poetry Press just a few months earlier. It was truly wonderful to see how she’s grown as a performer and a writer over the years – her set was utterly compelling.

Next month, we’ll be celebrating our seventh anniversary. Seven years of putting on a monthly event which brings the best of contemporary poetry to our part of the world. We can scarcely believe we’ve done it, and you’d better believe we have something really special planned. Sunday June 2nd. Put it in your diary. We’ll see you there.


When the theme was choosen for PASTA in March and it came out as “Scary Panda” I can’t have been the only one who thought, “Oh! That will be tough.” But one thing PASTA always brings out is a level of creativity which is varied, sublime and astonishing.

A close up of a microphone with theatre seats in the background blurred out. Text at the top reads, "PASTA. Poets and Storytellers Assemble" On the right, next to the microphone are the words "This month's theme: SCARY PANDA " At the bottom are the words, "Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton. Tuesday 19th March 2024. 7.30pm. Free Entry" Also in the bottom right is an AI generated image of a scary panda. The prompt was "A scary panda but in a fun and cartoony style. if you can have them chasing a poet through a bamboo field then even better." It's done a pretty good job to be fair but that was down to the quality of the prompt.

So yes we had work on scary pandas, and scary Panda-monialists and creatures in general. Then in the second half everyone stretched their wings (or would a more suitable metaphor be “puffed up their fur”) and the mix of subjects, voices and emotions was immense.

It’s great to see how PASTA has grown over time and the variety of faces and experiences which are coming through our little night.

The truth is, when you dare to assemble poets and storytellers you shouldn’t really be surprised at the magic which comes out and it always does. We’ll see you in June.

Yes We Cant in Asgard

Last night we took Yes We Cant back to Walsall, and held our first ever hybrid event at the wonderful Asgard Games in the town centre. It’s a perfect venue: large, airy, clean, comfortable, welcoming. And it has a bar. What’s not to like?

Our goal was to recreate the warmth, atmosphere, and enjoyment of Yes We Cant as it used to be at the Pretty Bricks, while also ensuring that we brought our Zoom audience with us – we’ve spent three years sharing our events with them, and they’ve taught us a lot about the importance of accessibility and how we need to facilitate it. We’d finally found a venue, now we just had to make it work.

We kept it simple. Booked a great headline poet, a compelling ‘Alf Ender, filled the open mic spots, and threw open the physical and virtual doors to anyone who wanted to come. And reader, they came. Dave MCed, Steve looked after the webcam, and Emma chatted with the Zoom attendees. S Reeson (thank you!) rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in, too. Everything ran like a dream. The open mic poets? Brilliant. Our ‘Alf Ender, Tina Cole? Fantastic. Headliner Ben Davis? Hilarious.

And the feedback? It couldn’t be better.

“You did a brilliant job tonight. I’ve been to 3 previous hybrids and they were unsuccessful due to poor sound and a feeling of isolation in the zoom room. Yours was perfect.”

“Dear PPP, the first hybrid YWC was a triumph. Great sound and video quality, felt like I had a front row seat. All the performers knocked it out the park. Thank you all again for making your event genuinely inclusive. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the next one.”

We’re over the moon, Brian. Over the chuffing moon.