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Sunday, 10 April 2011


Peterborough Cathedral

Heheee! Out of nowhere, some of what I was writing has been saved under "Draft".

Taking up from where I left off:
So I haven't updated much on here this week, partly out of being busy, and partly out of needing to recharge my energy. A few important things have happened in between the gaps. One of them is Mothers' Day (at least here in the UK). Another was April Fools' Day (same). Both inspired some mad poetry which I will post snippets of later today.

Then there was Saturday in Peterborough. I managed to arrive early to see a bit of the city and I'm still not really sure what to make of it. I mean, they had a Wimpys there - I hadn't seen one of those place in years! And the cathedral sticks out as an amazing piece of architecture, right at the end of what is now a huge shopping strip. Poundland and 99p store enthusiasts like me will like it, although I'm not sure if it's everyone's cup of cha.

Anyway, being one of the judges for Poetry Rivals (link to follow) on Saturday was interesting, not least doing the "Youth" category, which ran from 8-18. After hearing something like the 32nd poet come up on stage in the afternoon, it was a strain (and don't you just love the way I weaved that word seamlessly in?) to weigh up the qualities of all the poems against each other, particularly whilst weighing up the age factor. The winner, you can imagine, was excellent and did a touching piece about getting drunk (yeah, I know!) with friends, and one of them dying.

So that day I spent part of it wondering how you can "judge" poetry, per se - not an original thought, as many critics of poetry slams (too lazy to insert example links at the mo) have really laid into this concept, hailing it as the "Death of Art", or as too "performance"-based, and less about the quality of language. I see their points but have my own counter-arguments to that (but would be treading old ground - others more eloquent than I have summed it up already).

What I'm more interested in is the concept of "fun" and the fluidity of language. For me, a performance poet should be bringing their raw energy to the stage, or at least shining a bit of "truth" into their poems. Anyone can stand up and read "I wondered lonely as a cloud" or other somesuch verse, but when you have written a poem yourself - or you've at least made a poem your own - it becomes personal; revealing, even. Maybe the word I'm looking for is "intimate". In any case, that's what I love about spoken word, over the written word. That, and having fun with language. The use of sound, including volume, tone, etc gives it a richer feeling that can resonate with the soul. It's a halfway point towards music and song. And, in fact, I've been near-hypnotised by poets I haven't even understood fully. One Polish, and the other French. On both of these occasions, I knew what the poems were about - although my Polish is non-existent, and my French slang, likewise - but the delivery transmitted an energy I simply wouldn't have got from the translated text. 

And that's just how my mind works, jumping from one thing to the other, while actually what had been on my mind was the actually judging, and what defines "good" poetry, and how to decide what is better: an "excellent" poem for an 8-year old or a "really good" poem for a 17-year old, and whether it's worth forgetting the whole thing and telling all of them to just enjoy writing and performing poetry. Answers on a postcard please!

Coming up, Mothers' Day... 

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