The event was staged in the formidable setting of Blackwell’s Norrington Room (which boasts an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most books sold in a single room). Happily, despite the library-like setting, the audience were offered complimentary wine and encouraged to make noise by the likeable compere, who sported red fishnet gloves and a beard.
There was a good turnout, and the audience was dotted around the three levels of the room – either sitting on the floor, or standing to peep out between piles of books.
The audience seemed to enjoy the novelty of being nestled among Norrington’s 160,000 books. I was situated among the Graphic Guides and was able thumb through a couple of cartoons about Critical Theory while I waited for the performance to start.
Girls outnumbered boys among the performers, which made a refreshing change, and there were also some very strong performances from younger poets. The range of work on offer kept things interesting – as well as music and poetry, artists stepped up with flash fiction, blog extracts and even an extract from a novel. Topics ranged from meditations on Facebook, gigs and same sex kisses to accounts of heroin addiction and family death.
Eight Cuts aren’t entirely convincing in their role as a self-declared literary underground, but they have a compelling kind of New Libertine vibe, and offer something different – perhaps more thoughtful – from some of Oxford’s more established open mikes. Well worth checking out.