Welcome to your regularly scheduled poetry interruption. Ready to switch off already? Not a good idea. ‘Cause this here is the ground floor. The basics. Why write, why perform, why read, and why watch poetry? Or at least, why I and others around the country have gotten involved with the phenomenon that is performance poetry.
While my more recent acquaintances and friends may never believe it, I wasn’t always that guy constantly sending event requests on Facebook. Before I was a shameless PR for every poetry show in the country, I was to be found bumming around the punk shows in Glasgow.
My first love was the raw, angry and angsty lyrics of pop-punk and hardcore, along with the thrill that came from the live shows. Eventually, the staleness of some of the scene left me jaded. After one too many guys with guitars singing breakup songs, I found myself having to look for something else.
What I found had the honesty, the DIY ethic, and the self awareness I had missed in many a-night trawling through shows at the Classic Grand and Ivory Blacks. I found people who were taking the stage with nothing but their words. I found people willing to spend their time slaving over their work to engage and excite whoever was in the crowd that night. I found what I needed in these people, and in this scene.
So, that’s my answer to the “Why Poetry?” question, and an introduction to why I do what I do. It’s why I want to share the wonder of this ever-expanding scene in Scotland, and it’s a taster of what I’ve got in store for this column in the year to come.
Thinking through how I should introduce myself to you, I wondered why others got involved with the poetry shows that I love so much. So I asked them. Here’s a selection of the responses that poets from around Scotland have given to the question “Why Poetry?”
So, yeah, we romanticize our past-time a bit. Yeah, we do have a propensity to write break-up poems sometimes. Yeah, we have some of the same bullshit that goes on every other scene. But if poets aren’t allowed a bit of poetic license, who is?
As a parting remark, I intend to make a little bit of a presumption upon you. Anyone of you who might have picked up this article, but who may not yet be convinced by its content thus far.
You love poetry. You do. You just don’t know it yet.
You haven’t found the right poem, or the right poet. The right format, the right style. Maybe you would prefer Morgan over Burns. Maybe you haven’t heard Carly Brown or maybe you’d prefer Agnes Török. Sam Small or Bram E. Gieben. Shane Koyczan over Sarah Kay. The poetry you come to love is personal, but the love of rhythm, rhyme, meter and everything else that the medium has to offer is universal.
So, tune in over the next year. I will be recommending shows, poets and poems every three weeks here at The Sacrificial Poetry Review. It might take a while, but we’ll find each and every one of you the poetry you love. For now, I will leave you with one more response to “Why Poetry?” from John Michael Kennedy: