A couple of events where it was only poets performing to other poets, a shouty guest night and an under-publicised and rather forced 'workshop' involving table tennis, balls with things written on them have conspired to make me question what exactly I am trying to do, and why...
Poets empty rooms
In five minutes flat
|Poets watch poets... because they're 'up' next|
causing a disorderly egress
from all kinds of event.
We open our mouths and it’s as if
someone in the back row
has shouted: ‘Fire!’ or ‘Free ice cream!’
the way they scamper for the exits
as though our very words are painful
pointed at them, poisoning their minds.
It’s true – I know poets who do.
Ah, the power of the poets’ words
|'Darling, we're leaving. That's Broken Biro!'|
have you running for cover,
covering your ears, refusing to hear.
Poets are faster and calmer
than riot police, less brutal... usually.
Stand us in front of the National Front
at crucial junctions of Tottenham orToxteth,
let us open our frightening mouths
and speak. See those hooded, would-be
thugs put down their weapons,
look at their watches, mumble something
|Batty about poetry... is just plain batty|
If you need a seat on a bus – ask one of us.
Stuck at the back of a crowd? See how we
part the sea of people like the Moses of poesy.
How our audiences shrink not swell
at every clerihew and villanelle.
Bring us in at closing time to get the punters
draining glasses, or café’s were pensioners
linger on and buy no drinks,
or parks where youths loiter at sundown
causing alarm by laughing and being young.
|a load of balls|
their welcome: traffic jams, complaints desks,
refugee camps. Let our self-indulgent sestinas
evacuate tall buildings, entire towns.
Poets clear fields and promenades,
empty the deckchairs around bandstands
faster than a sudden downpour.
Use us in wars: front line rhymesters
who send our enemies back to the bunkers;
or during dubious interrogations
extracting prompt confessions with
the drip drip drip
of our water torture words.