On the top floor of the White Hart pub in Stoke Newington on Friday, a crowd gathered for an evening filled with “storytelling, drinking and music.”
The Late Night Literary Salon, as it was called, took place in conjunction with the Stoke Newington Literary Festival. The event was hosted by three independent publishers in the UK, Influx Press, 3:AM and Galley Beggar; and included talent such as Jonathan Gibbs, Sam Berkson, folk artist Jack Cheshire, and more.
The room was too small for the large audience, but the performances were each so captivating that the crowd ignored how they were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, knee-to-knee.
By the time the second performer, Sam Berkson, took hold of the microphone, the music from the bar below was thumping against the floorboards, but it seemed to only add to the ambiance. Berkson performed several poems from his book, Life in Transit, which recounted humorous and poignant situations that the writer experienced while moving from place to place.
Another highlight was Jonathan Gibbs’s excerpts from his new novel, Randall. The story follows a young artist as he navigates the complex and mysterious world of contemporary art. Gibbs’s performance of the novel brought the main character to life and highlighted the funny and peculiar process of creating meaning within art.
The night also included music, from Jack Cheshire. With a guitar in hand he played original songs, as well as some classic covers, which delighted the audience. The music was a nice break from the stories being read aloud, and helped maintain the energy in the room.
The night drew to a close and the buzzed audience headed to the bar below to continue the festivities. The Late Night Literary Salon lived up to the festival’s website as description as something “for everyone who wants to hear some entertaining, witty, moving stories whilst drinking and making a nuisance.” The atmosphere in the small room was both charged and relaxed. It was a place to listen, absorb, and yes, drink.