Devoid of Meaning and Dangerously Immoral
I have a deeply dark confession… I’m a poet, but I don’t read poetry. Furthermore unless they have videos on Youtube I probably haven’t heard of your favourite poets.
I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t discover poetry on purpose; I just started doing whatever my musical idols were doing in terms of writing my feelings into rhymes. I didn’t really want to be a poet until really late on after writing poetry for years and I remember vaguely a feeling of confusion when learning about poets and poetry in GCSE English. There seemed so many rules to this poetry thing, and I was an angry, shy teen who just wanted to write about those things and be all gothy and depressive. The poems I was made to read in class just seemed boring. I couldn’t relate.
I used to structure my poems as song lyrics, in my mind at the time these were songs although I never planned to sing them. However for one school talent show my music teacher put some corny porno rock stuff on a tape and sang some of my words over it for me to practise so I’d be able to sing it. I can’t describe my gratitude for the fact that social media and camera phones weren’t really a thing when I took that stage. I literally just cringed at the memory, it was dire!
I am from what I call a “non-working class” part of the country north of Newcastle and slightly south of the Scottish border. When I was younger I picked up the bad habit of othering types of art forms and culture as being “not for my kind”; unfortunately poetry fell victim to this nonsensical mindset of mine. I wrote lyrics, but I wasn’t a poet I was a song writer. In reality I was intimidated by the complexity and flowery language used by the poets I’d be learning about in school, it all seemed very formal and it put me off really investigating poetry, I guess I was scared of being told that the way I was writing was wrong.
I recently had a conversation with one of the headliners, Casey Bailey, at this month’s Fire & Dust and I asked him the usual, “How did you start, and why?” and he basically said he always thought of himself as a rapper and lyricist. I was only ever taught that the angsty metal music I was in love with was just noise and the lyrics were either devoid of meaning or dangerously immoral.
I became a poet at university, despite being a writer of poetry for easily a decade beforehand. You see a friend of my room-mate in halls was this magnificent bundle of absurdity, weirdness, honesty and kindness whose name was Philip. Philip was doing a degree in creative writing and he started the Poetry Society where all the poets would come every Monday and share thoughts, ideas, and words. Poetry Society de-schoolified poetry for me and I learned more from my friends about writing poetry than I did at school. This was the first time I’d really been able to consume and digest poetry, you see it turns out that I find it really difficult to understand information that I read. At university for example I would have my learning facilitators read my reading home work to me, otherwise it wouldn’t get done. It’s not that I can’t read, it’s that I’d probably have to read something like eight times to fully grasp the content.
To date I’ve only “read” two collections of poetry and by read I mean listened to two full audio books, those being Neil Hilborn's Northbound and Kate Tempest's Running Upon the Wires. It’s a shame that my list is so short but I have hopes that in this new world of newer technology more poets will consider releasing audio versions of their books, it’s really affordable and it widens the potential audience.
Dudes and dudettes and everything beyond, that has been a rambled and disjointed version of my journey into poetry. Nowadays I’m extremely proud to call myself a poet!