It’s 8pm on a Thursday and four of my friends are stood in front of a closed Waterstones while I jog up and down the side of the building, losing a game of charades with the oblivious bookseller inside.
Twenty minutes later we are finally inside the Sillitoe Room, listening to a spectacular line up of poets here to support the main talent of the night: Chris McLoughlin and the launch of Lose Your Armour. Published through Nottingham’s indie Big White Shed, this 12-strong-poem chapbook reads like an open letter to those drowning in emotional struggle.
‘Dust Days’, which was performed in full at the launch, documents fourteen individual days or nights that begin with hedonistic behaviour and descends into helplessness and the deep pit of depression many of us have clawed our way out of. In particular, ‘Day 34’ is one run-on sentence of a disassociation episode in the Victoria Centre, before McLoughlin turns his attention to the reader, asking ‘Are you entertained now?’ The change of pace and directive almost makes me feel guilty for enjoying how expressive the bleakness is.
As a reader, you want to hug the persona. As someone who suffers from mental health, you nod and continue to read. Back in the Sillitoe Room, I glance down the aisle of seats in the middle of Chris’s set to see friends faces full of sadness, awe, but most importantly, inspiration. Lose Your Armour screams, ‘if I can get through this, let my words help you get through yours’.