Posted on | April 10, 2012 | No Comments
BANG BANG! BANG BANG!
If you see a man ambling about South London talking to himself, but his random tergiversations seem to be in iambic terza rima: that’s probably me trying to memorise my Cantos for my gig at Bang Said the Gun this Thursday.
If you haven’t yet been to BANG then you really need to go. As a perfomer I really feel that it is one of the few venues in London where I can be myself. This isn’t so much a cuss of the other gigs; due to my precarious freelancer existence I do a lot of gigs that have to be family friendly, or shows that reflect a certain theme. These are great fun most of the time and they help me to stretch my horizons and meet new challenges. Bang, however, is one of those rare gigs where I can really let rip and not hold back a thing. The audiences are always boisterous and friendly, the host Dan Cockrill and the rest of the gunslingers know how to put on a show and keep the energy levels high and the line ups are always top drawer. The Raw Meat Stew segment at the end of the evening pilfers from what’s best about open mic and Slam and ensures that the floor spot segment that ends the night is a true burst of entertainment intensity rather than an anticlimactic afterthought.
I’ll be sharing the bill with Dan Simpson, the witty, denonaire and effervescent wordsmith that was part of the Apples and Snakes team that romped to victory at this year’s Page Match at the Roundhouse.
So, make it down to Bang Said the Gun at The Roebuck in Borough this Thursday night, and if dire circumstances prevent you from doing so, make it down some other Thursday and soon.
WHEN THREE TRIBES GO TO WAR
My last entry about mainstream poetry and Dave Bryant’s excellent feature in the Morning Star brought about a ripple of opinion from some of the bubbles within poetry’s multiverse (pun wasn’t intended but I’ll take credit for it anyway). This week Jon Stone expressed his thoughts on the tribalism of poetry, something he’s been mulling over for a while. The three tribes he focused on were the tribes of Spoken Word, Avant Garde and Mainstream. Perhaps the cleverest part of the essay focuses on defining these tribes—he firstly defines them by how they may view themselves and then defnes each by how their detractors see them, very much a Hegelian thesis and antithesis which in turn invite an attempt at a synthesis.
However, some Hegelians, such as Slavoj Zizek, see the synthesis as very tension between these two rather than a friendly meeting of minds. This seems to be a poignant argument to how Spoken Word and the Avant Garde define themselves: very much as an opposition or alternative to the whipping boy of the Mainstream. This antagonism in turn allows the mainstream to define itself as the middle ground, the true neutral reference to which the others are derivatives or alternatives. Figureheads from all three are very cosy with this antagonism, it ensures their roles as poster children. The antagonism is also very useful to cultural commentators and arts correspondents who always need an angle.
I part with Hegel in his vision that history is some kind of progression of humanity to more enlightened climes, I’m much more of the the “what goes around comes around” mindset. Things got very interesting around the time of the death of Performance Poetry (I’d say early to mid noughties). Around this time many previous figureheads of Performance Poetry began to think more seriously about their written output, with some crossing over into the Mainstream and others skillfully straddling the ground between them. At the same time, many other big names of Performance Poetry became less visible.
However, nature abhors a vacuum while the Arts love vacuums of the creative variety so Spoken Word sprung up in the niche that Performance Poetry left behind. Many Spoken Word artists know nothing of the era that preceded them and are genuinely convinced that they are part for something new. They are half right, SW is a different beast to PP in many ways, yet many of the arguments that the Spoken Worders make are carbon copies of their forgotten predecessors (the page/stage dichotomy, youth, the need for a poem to make its point on the first listening, the inclusion at festivals and the links to contemporary popular music).
So, what’s an unfashionable Spoken Word/Mainstream hybrid like yours truly to do in times when crossover is passée?
Nothing. I’ve been here before. I know what’s coming.
If you read all of this, you missed out on how it sounds in performance.