The other day I was at a literary salon at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield. The idea was that we could have a poetry reading where the audience weren't afraid to heckle, challenge and otherwise bother the readers. This I approve of. The painful, martyrish, polite restraint that pervades spoken word audiences gets on my nerves. Imagine what would happen at a comedy or music open mic night if you totally bombed. The audience would let you know. It would be unpleasant, but then you could choose to give it up, change your material or soldier on, assuming that they'd get it eventually. At a spoken word night, it takes a certain amount of self awareness, and ability to read the mood to know if the silence is stunned awe or embarrased, barely contained snorts of the wrong kind of mirth. And if you haven't got much self awareness or ability to read the mood, you are very likely to mistake the latter for the former.
So, in theory, challenging this seemed great, and I was honoured to be asked to read at the first one.
But.... I dunno, sounds a bit pretentious, doesn't it?
I think it was OK, a couple of moments that made me cringe. I think sometimes we were all trying a bit too hard to get it right, and still worried about hurting tender poets' feelings. Actually, I had a really nice time.
I explained the sestina-a-day thing (hmmm...worrying about seeming pretentious? it's posssible the horse has bolted through that particular stable door) and was givensome deliberately problematic words.
So, Bank Street Arts Salonniers, this one's for you. Take heed. And enjoy the homophonic cheats further down.
He looks up witty things to say on Google
Finds famous epigrams on Wikipedia
To sprinkle in his speech. Wears corduroy
To look Bohemian: pretentious bastard.
His glowing auburn skin is soaked in spray-tan.
Surrounded by young, sycophantic belles,
He's propping up the bar until the bell s
-Ounds for last orders. On his phone, he Googles
To see where else he can show off his spray-tan
And brags “It's not on Wikipedia,
But I know this new club, though it's a bastard
To get in, if you're wearing corduroy,
But I don't give a shit. My corduroy's
A statement. I'll get in. I mean, hell bells!
This scene would fold without me. If some bastard
turns me away, he'll see, if he checks Google
Or else my page on Wikipedia
That I'm not just a pretty face.” His spray tan
Confirms that statement. (Note: he got that spray-tan,
Which, sadly, clashes with his corduroy,
Because an article on Wikipedia
About 'ironic chic' was ringing bells
With him, and so he bought a can on Google.
Now goes by 'Rusty Irony' – smug bastard.
Fast forward to that club. The slimy bastard
Got in, despite his corduroy and spray-tan
And now he's boasting of the hits on Google
His name is getting these days “Cor! Do roy-
Als feel as loved as this?” Those belles
(Who looked him up today, on Wikipedia,
To see if he was 'hip', for Wikipedia
Is actually a great "who's who" for bastards.)
Giggle on cue. One young, lurex-clad belle
Seems rather keen. He swoops. His prey tan-
Goes with him. Lurex and corduroy
Ignite with friction: look it up on Google.
Fire engine bells - it says on Wikipedia,
And also Google - couldn't save the bastard.
It burns fast, spray-tan, so does corduroy.