Thursday, 24 April 2014

People + Poetry

'People just don't read poetry'
'Poetry is hard'
'Poetry is dead'

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. About people who find poetry. People who ignore poetry. About people mainly and their interaction with poetry.

'People don't read poetry' in the last day or so I've been exploring Cardiff and Aberdare. As is necessary I've wandered into 6/7 book selling places, out of these 2 sold poetry. Mostly it was a poor effort. Mainly anthologies with names like The Nations Love Poems or The Poems You Can't Remember. A lot of effort goes into them I'm sure but I'm hardly ever given the opportunity to experience new names or even non-romantic poets! Maybe people aren't being given the means to experience poetry; particularly in small towns. Even worse, they are being put off by the archaic, 
unrelatable poetry that was rammed down their parched throats in school!

'Poetry is hard' lets go here next. Poetry IS hard. It's also easy, it's unrelenting, it's romantic and selfish and giving. Poetry is anything you want it to be; and it's all around us, all the time. Your twitter rants rammed into 140 characters or whatever is poetry and flash fiction (you know the type)! Road signs and shorthand; it's all there. I see poetry as your ability to come to terms with the language around you, and within you. So yes; poetry is hard but it's necessary and it's yours.

it's alive and kicking
straight in the lips.
ing your skin 
and your teeth
as you take a big old bite.

Doesn't the syrup just bite back?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Hit the Ode Manchester

                                                (Pippa and I with out In-the-lift-pre-poetry-selfie!)

Last night I had an amazing time at Hit the Ode Manchester edition. I'd heard a bit about this event on Facebook in the lead up and knew a bit about Apples and Snakes previously, but thanks to not being near any of the events I hadn't been able to experience these shows before.  It was a night where I truly felt Spoken Word was on the rise. We hear a lot about how no-one likes poetry anymore and it's a dying art but last night proved that all wrong. A lot of the venue's we end up in are top rooms of pubs or small art cafe's, which are amazing and I enjoy my time there but it was really nice to see poetry on a bigger stage.

To begin with the event was so well organised. It was at Contact in Manchester, a venue I haven't been to before but one that I will be at again! The venue itself was perfect for the night, but I was sat at the front with my lovely friend Pippa!
    The compares were brilliant, really funny and engaging. These nights have been going on for quite a while, a few years in Birmingham too, so they have a few traditions that they shared with us. It made us feel part of a poetic collective which was very empowering.
    At the beginning was an open mic section with a few very organised people in the slots. These were very good poets and it really made you see how amazing some people out there are. There were also three slots for people who came on the night. Although neither myself or Pippa got to read the readers were great fun to watch.

     The next bit of the show was more established performers.

 Rosie Garland performed first. Although I've read her work I only had the chance to see her perform at Loose Muse briefly so it was a pleasure to see her do a full set. If I'm honest this is the main reason I wanted to go! She didn't disappoint! Amazing stage presence and beautiful poetry, really a cracking combination. Garland's poetry is stuffed to the brim with gems of imagery with poems like
about (but not about) unicorns, topped with her very funny poems like being a Teenager in Devon and satirical work like Queer Thanksgiving which made me laugh and question society all at the same time!

Next was Jamine Cooray, a spoken word artist I hadn't hear before. It was refreshing to hear something different! Cooray takes vivid imagery from her childhood and disperses it throughout her work, she has a very modern style that can objectively examine itself well. I was particularly  impressed with her self-made poetry pamphlets which were adorable and a great idea.

                                   Last but definitely not least was Shane Koyczan.                                                          
I'm ashamed to say I hadn't really heard him before. I feel like I've seen his face on youtube and shared around but I hadn't taken the time to sit down and listen to his poetry. In a way I'm glad of this because the performance was so new to me I appreciated everything, the movement of his hands blended seamlessly into his poetry. I'm not ashamed to say I teared up a bit with his poem about his Grandad!

I really hope there are more of these to come! Check these amazing artists out on youtube and elsewhere!