The Write Out Loud poem of the week is Stay Put by Mark Mr T Thompson
The Write Out Loud poem of the week is Stay Put by Mark Mr T Thompson, a popular, highly-regarded poet on the Write Out Loud poetry blogs. The reference isn’t difficult to discern given that the advice – Stay Put - to Grenfell Tower residents has been so much discussed in the few days since that desperate tragedy. As with Tony Walsh’s response to the Ariana Grande attack, poetry is again pressed into service by a gifted poet trying to help us articulate our feelings in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. This brave piece of work deserves a wider readership so do please share it on whatever platforms or social media you are connected to.
(We thought we should put the questionnaire second to the poem this week.)
I have a fear of fire.
I have a fear of height.
I have a fear of being trapped alone
On my life's very last night.
I have a fear of towers.
I fear the way they sway.
The way the wind's wicked whispers
whistle past with far too much to say.
I fear some in high places.
I fear they do not care.
I fear they lack compassion
I can smell it in the air.
I fear some have been greedy
I fear corners have been cut.
I fear eyes that should be open now
By weight of coin have been shut.
I fear I'd have known the policy;
I fear it 'cos true.
I fear my undoing would have been
to do what I'd been told to do.
I fear that I'd still be there
Beneath the charcoal blackened soot.
Yes, I fear that I'd still be there now
because I would've stayed put.
What got you into writing poetry?
I first developed a passion for poetry as a child when I saw Benjamin Zephaniah live at about the age of 8. Years later I was in a play written by him (playing a 14 year old football mad poet).
How long have you been writing?
I first remember writing a poem at primary school that I read in front of an assembly. I had written lots of lyrics to songs and on a very early date with my now wife I went to a spoken word event in Brixton hosted by the legendary Kat François. She's been a good friend and mentor to me, almost pushing me on to a stage to win my first slam at the Theatre Royal Stratford East 12 years ago.
Do you go to any open mic nights?
Yes, lots. Chill Pill back at the Scream bar (where I fist saw Kate Tempest and Ed Sheeran amongst many others) and Word for word (still run By Kat François in Stratford) would be my favourite of all time. I also host one at the Poetry Society Cafe in Betterton Street called Lipped Ink (reopening on the 7th of July after the venue refurbishment) which includes a featured poet and a guided visualisation meditation alongside the open mic. The amazing Sophia PoetWalker is our feature this month.
What’s your favourite poem/poet?
Poets is hard. It's like asking who is your favourite Aunty or Uncle. Benjamin Zephaniah would be a significant influence, but so would Kat François and Shakespeare (in fact I was an actor first, it's where I found my love of verse!). If I had to pick one poem, it would be between And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou and ... actually no, I'm happy to leave it on that anthemic note.
You’re cast away on a desert island. What’s your luxury?
Well I'm tempted to say music, but that seems a little hackneyed. A life without out music would leave me lost, although that might also be true of internet access these days!