Until the Light Goes Out is on tonight! This month’s feature acts are Julian Shome (great musician), Steve Gill (a brilliant spoken word artist) and Tom Bland (who promised to do a poem mentioning me!) It’s gonna be great. I was supposed to write something new to read there, to make up for my not-so-great feature performance at Poetry in the Basement on Thursday. It probably wasn’t my worst performance ever, but I hadn’t managed to write a set either, and after a couple of glasses of wine it seemed a good idea to jazz up an existing poem by telling a story around it, and let me tell you, I cannot improvise a good story. It was a bit embarrassing. So I thought I’d reclaim my status as a respectable, hard-working writer by having a new poem for tonight. I haven’t written it yet. The show starts in four and a half hours, so I probably won’t.
I’m turning into one of those poets.
You know the type. “Poet” – not in the sense of the word meaning person who writes poetry, but someone who wanders around their house in a dressing gown on a Monday until midday thinking it’s still Sunday (that was me this morning). Who have a retro typewriter on their desk and the same piece of paper with two lines written on it isn’t getting anywhere. Who stick to the typewriter because it’d be too risky write poetry on a computer (in case you spill the whiskey on the keyboard). Who tell everyone they write poetry, using the present verb tense, although they know deep down that they haven’t written a good new piece in ages.
Sometimes I think the decent thing to do would be to declare my writing career over, at a ripe young age, like Rimbaud. Then I would live the rest of my life so radically and wildly that my collected poems 2009-2013 would make a thin but iconic volume that people would be reading decades later, not because they like the poems, but because I had been such a legend. But every time I think that, I realise that even when I’m not writing poetry, words lead their own lives inside my head, organising themselves into arrangements, trying to find an expression for whatever I’m seeing or feeling at the moment. According to thefreedictionary.com, a “poet” is in the first defintion “a writer of poetry,” but the second definition is, “One who is especially gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful and the lyrical.” I like that. Even when not actively writing, I think I’m quite good at perceiving the beautiful.
It’ll be a good show tonight. Don’t expect any poetry from me.