Raymond Antrobus is amazing. His blog is interesting, his poems are eye-opening, he’s great live and I need to talk about something else now; before I end up sounding like a psychopath. But before I do move on, I think it is perfectly acceptable to begin addresses to the public with praise for my peers in the ‘poetry scene’. Although it may not be the best or most effective of ways to go about displaying my love for poetry and its proponents, I have chosen this particular article as an opportunity to do so. In the future though, I might just revert to praising fellow poets at a later stage in the interview, documentary or best man speech; perhaps after being asked, “So who inspires you to write poetry?” (Which will perhaps be a more acceptable time to mention my talented friends and acquaintances, rather than forcing it into conversational nooks and narrative crannies at the risk of coming across as a sufferer of compliment tourettes).
In the midst of all of this blabbering, what I am trying to say is that I love the overlapping of poetry collectives and poets. One poet performs and encourages his audience to check out his collective which includes a poet whose part of another collective who shouts out their poet friend who shouts out their poet friend over and over until each poet has been given a reference (that was a mouthful). This is a smaller example of a greater practice that I would like to celebrate and encourage.
The fact that I rejoice in the smallest mention of poetry or spoken word by the mainstream media, and was almost brought to tears at the sight of Dean Atta & Deanna Rodger in the Metro not so long ago (Kudos to Kieran Yates) and nearly DIED when I saw Kate Tempest performing poetry on national TV (Glastonbury re-cap on the BBC), displays how seldom articles and reflections of poetry and its associated practices are seen in the public eye (Kudos to whoever is pushing the ‘Poetry on the Underground’ campaign). I have in fact have obsessively opted to hold onto every Evening Standard that has a poetry related article featured in it.
I do, however, rejoice in poetry’s niche credentials, it’s almost like ‘our little secret’, but I want to see it grow and I want to be a part of that growth. Part of what’s so exciting about being a poet is in knowing that there is still so much that hasn’t yet been done and that there are still so many more experimental ideas to be born. A big part of this growth, I honestly believe, will take place when we all begin to operate as a more cohesive unit. Like, I don’t know, Optimus Poetry, if you will (that was terrible, I sincerely apologise for the Transformers reference, I haven’t even seen the movie).
I guess what I am trying to say is that the more we blog and tweet one another’s weblinks, provide intros and outros for one another’s albums and feature on one another’s line ups, the more we create opportunities for one other to shine and for the public to take interest in us and ultimately invest in us.
I have made a pledge to do all I can to shed light on the talent that I stumble upon as time goes by. One of the opportunities I get to do this is with my annual night The Poet & The Beat, where I curate my own event featuring my favourite artists (often poets and poetry-friendly folk/funk bands and the like) and artists who I feel deserve some more exposure. I want to do more though. But rather than wallowing in self-pity I should now shed light onto those who have done and are doing the work that I feel needs to be done for our movement to advance. I now therefore commend the work of Charlie Dark in providing me with many an opportunity to display my talents and also to Joshua Idehen & Musa Okwonga who have respectively offered me opportunities to feature on songs and write blogs for them.
But before this turns into a “who’s who” of the spoken word world, let me end this diatribe by commending the efforts of all of those who have boosted the profile of spoken word in and around London and the wider world. Let us all continue to love words and take pleasure in reading them out loud. Let us all feel free to express ourselves and advocate the political and philosophical views that we have. Your victory is my victory. GREEDs is a legend. Belinda Zhawi is a G and poetry is eternal. Peace.
James Massiah, having praised everyone in his blog, is a wonderful poet in his own right. Please see for yourself at http://www.jamesmassiah.com.