The Part Time Poet Learns To Speak

Say Sum Thin 4 – Musings Of Sarcasm

In February I did my first performance in over eight years. Unlike theatre productions where you all act in character, the delivery of poetry is something a lot more personal, and a lot of the time people deliver it as themselves.

I, on the other hand, decided to cheat the system and create an on-stage persona who goes by the title of the ‘Part Time Poet’, by which I could use dry wit and working-class sarcasm to convey a relatable message.

The performance running time was over three hours long – The Mouthy Poets’ biggest show to date. My debut was roughly forty minutes in, and the title of my piece was ‘The King’. Since the theme of the event was ‘Love, Lace and Revolution’, I’m sure a lot of people were sat, preparing to hear about the monarchy or some such. Boy, were they in for a big surprise.

Before the event itself, I did a vague warm-up of sorts at an open mic in the Jam Cafe, down in the Lace Market sector, one Wednesday night. My delivery was rather off-timing and the crowd was extremely neutral (let’s face it, they were expecting music). However, neutral was better than completely negative, and I did hear some ‘randomer’ shout out some support half way through my act.

So evidently, after that whisky-tinted experience, I managed to perform to an audience of our mums and dads on the Friday just fine. Some left some very nice comments about my performance, which was lovely to read. I knew my poem was one of the few comedy acts in the show – perhaps the only one in the first half. The fact that the reception was so warm on all of my performances suggests to me that my strategy was correct – humour gets you browny points straight away, even if your poetry is not really that deep or complex.

On the final night, we had the better and more engaged audience, and we also coupled our acts with music, which added to the experience. I apparently delivered my best performance yet and the crowd loved it. Feedback has been positive and everyone has been really supportive.

First Steps On The Road

In the wake of SST4, I did (most notably) a set at Blackdrop, and a double set at the Leicester event Find The Right Words. Blackdrop was an evening devoted to International Women’s Day, where I dropped an unedited version of ‘The King’, and lost them at the c-word roughly ten seconds in (didn’t think about that – whoops!) That was the night I decided that EVERY performance of The King from then on would be a coughing version. As Tshaka Campbell told me – that c-word is just a little too darn offensive for most! It was also, however, the first time performing ‘Two Minutes’, and that has become a staple of my set now, despite having written it roughly two years ago!

Find The Right Words, on the other hand, was probably my best performance to date. Coupled with an awesome night out afterwards, and a really professional venue in which to perform, I did both my poems to a great response, both from professional artists and poetry enthusiasts alike. Going out and partying in Leicester that Tuesday night showed a lighter side to all the rather formal poetic-ness, and as the weather gets warmer there’ll hopefully be a few more socials alongside the performing as well!

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Fellow poets Jess Green and Sean Mahoney front-row the audience at Find The Right Words as I do the first bit of my two-part act.

My poem ‘Maurice’ got published in the Nottingham University Anthology, which means I can now call myself an official ‘published poet’ (which is always nice). Can’t wait to get a copy. I met a guy called Nick Makoha, who always carries his first-ever published work around with him wherever he goes. I might just end up doing the same!

Although I have seen a lot of shows recently, looking for inspiration or just witnessing how other people use words and the microphone, two particularly have stood out for me: Niall O’Sullivan, who did a free performance at a Mouthy session one Friday, and Mark Grist, who I saw only last night, and only cost me £3. Funnily enough, both of their sets were life stories, and so epic were they in their scope, they covered all parts surrealism, humour, tragedy and inspiration. Put it all together, you get modern-day poetry! Hell-to-the-yes.

On the road ahead, I’ll be performing in Nottingham at the Jam Cafe and Blackdrop again in the upcoming months. I’ll no doubt also be scheduled for Say Sum Thin 5 which is on June 15th (only this time we’ll have the main auditorium for just one night only!) I plan to hit Birmingham soon, as I’ve met some really cool poets from there who inform me that the place is buzzing with open mics and poetry slams. I am currently developing much more hardcore poems for such events, and once they’re perfected, I’ll be right on over! I’ve developed a social media network in the last few weeks, so you can find me by my alias ‘Part Time Poet’ on Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter!

~X~

P.S: At least I have my closing act ready!

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