Niall O'Sullivan

high brow, low brow, none of that stuff in the middle


Posted on | December 6, 2017 | 2 Comments

Last night a young man approached me after the list was closed and asked if he could read. He said he was embarrassed because he didn’t have any money to cover the admission and I said it was fine. I have experienced abject skintness too, times when all I ate all day was a couple of marmite sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, when I was digging, hoeing and sawing for the council. I know the difference between those that are skint because they blew their allowance on a big weekend and those that allocate each slice of bread within a loaf. When he took his place in the performance space he half-whispered his way through a love poem, seeming as if he was going to burst into tears at any moment. After the poem he spoke of how he was once a dancer on Oxford Street and how he felt the dance scene was too aggressive and competitive. He spoke of how he wanted to do Spoken Word instead and how his friends had encouraged him to take the plunge. I remember a time when I was given a similar kick up the arse by a white Zimbabwean who lived at the same hostel as me. Then the young man spoke of how he had two choices tonight, to get up and read a poem or kill himself. I remember the chorus of sighs and gulps from the audience after he said this. I only thought later about the consequences that might have spun out if I hadn’t let him read. He finished within time and returned to his seat. While I’d cut off other poets I was ready to let him take whatever time he needed and fuck anybody that has a problem with that. After the applause died down I said that I had nothing funny or clever to say. I said that I hope he finds someone to talk to. I still have nothing funny or clever to say. He was gone before I started to stack away the chairs. I hope he’s okay.


2 Responses to “6/12/17”

  1. Mark Coverdale
    December 6th, 2017 @ 10:54 pm

    Me an’ all. The only thing I can rationally take away, is the power of the need to perform, of which I’ll never touch, but now know, that the opportunity to do such, should never be taken for granted.
    It was an intense watch.
    I hope he comes again.

  2. Anne Macaulay
    December 7th, 2017 @ 9:19 am

    So glad you gave him the chance. It’s amazing how a small action can make a huge difference. Sounds like you might have saved him. Great stuff!

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