The Write Out Loud poem of the week is Stay Put by Mark Mr T Thompson

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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.)

 

Stay Put

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.

 

Questionnaire

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!

◄ Tony Walsh gives poetic verdict on election result alongside Carol Ann Duffy

Remember that game: football anthology launched in aid of Alzheimer Scotland project ►

Comments

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Sun 25th Jun 2017 01:37

The audio is available here...

https://soundcloud.com/mark-mrt-thompson/stay-put

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Stu Buck

Wed 21st Jun 2017 19:25

i like the interplay of 'fear of heights' and 'some in high places'. i tend to stay away from anything political or to do with current events, just a personal preference, but i do like this and it does seem to keep its emotions in sway, so as to not appear overly 'reactionary'. good stuff and surely indicative of its quality that it will be performed at fundraisers.

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karen izod

Wed 21st Jun 2017 16:42

unfortunately can't make either of those dates, but best of luck with it, and with the fundraising, and will keep an eye out on your ccpress site. Karen

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steve pottinger

Wed 21st Jun 2017 15:54

What I really like about this poem is the way it avoids ranting and railing, but just quietly and cleverly makes its point by reminding the reader that following advice could lead any of us into an impossible position. Nice work.

It's worth taking heed of the adage "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'. Maybe the heat has made some people forget that.

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Laura Taylor

Wed 21st Jun 2017 15:23

*slow hand clap*

Well done Rick. Showing what a strong community is made of there. Did you miss the bit about this being performed at fundraisers too?

And you speak of dishonouring. The irony.

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Rick Gammon

Wed 21st Jun 2017 15:14

This is a 'leave' comment:

This piece of doggerel is quite the worst I've read in many a month - it fails to meet even the low entry requirement for doggerel.

Frankly it is drivel and, I feel, dishonouring to the deceased.

I think there's nowt to be gained by sticking around.
So, with thanks to the kind people I've met here, for their encouragements, this is my 'adieu'.

Cheers everyone
Rick.

Lancashire County Palatine Tourist Bard

Wed 21st Jun 2017 11:51

Well done Mark.

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Mark Mr T Thompson

Wed 21st Jun 2017 07:19

Thanks Martin. I think the horrors were very real for me as I had lived on the top floor of a smaller block (12th floor).

Karen I will definitely get it recorded, but if any in London want to hear the piece I will be performing it first at two events to raise funds in support of victims... One at the Rutland Arms in Hammersmith on the 4th of July (featuring alongside Anthony Anaxagorou, Kat François, Joelle Taylor And Deanna Rodger!), the other my own night Lipped Ink where I host and the featured poet is Sophia Walker.

https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/eventview.php?eventID=14186&datetime=2017-07-07T00:00

Martin Elder

Tue 20th Jun 2017 23:01

This has great timing and rhythm to it as well as a marvellous sense of the horrors of what has happened.
fantastic POTW richly deserved
Congratulations Mark

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karen izod

Tue 20th Jun 2017 17:38

do record it, I'd love to hear you reading it.
thanks
Karen

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Colin Hill

Sun 18th Jun 2017 20:29

Well done Mark. As has been mentioned, there have been a number of blogs this week related to the tragic events in London - not surprising given the many faults it has exposed within parts of our society.

One of the bonuses of Poem of the Week is being offered the opportunity to learn a little more about the author which led me to delve into your Cultural Chameleon Press website. I will add the link here for others to hopefully pick up on:

http://www.theccpress.co.uk/

Colin

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Karen Ankers

Sun 18th Jun 2017 18:05

Beautiful, sensitive work. "I fear some in high places" is very powerful.

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Wolfgar Miere

Sun 18th Jun 2017 13:52

Well deserved POTW, there have been a few on Grenfell this week which is not at all surprising.

I did comment on this on the blog and to me it seems to be saying confront and question everything (including your fear), its a good strategy for survival.

Nice one MMTT.

David.

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