Performing Beyond our Comfort Zones: How I’m Still Figuring out what I am doing here.
“Inexperienced. Old hat. Raw. Untrained.”
These are words I’d use to describe what I write.
How I came into doing this is something I’ve written about here before, but what am I doing in it, where do I now stand? – I have no idea. I’m not yet into double figures in performances. My very first performance saw me nervously figuring out what it was I was doing; the epitome of fear and under confidence, something I had never experienced before. Contrast then to last week’s performance where I finally felt like I was holding a stage, experimenting with my poems and speech. Not just what I say any more, but how I say it. How I shout it. How I whisper it. How I deliver it.
Now to some I may be something visually unexciting. I’m not someone who ever watches poets or performers myself. I’m a self-proclaimed lyricist. Now don’t take that as arrogant. I never said I was good. I just write what comes to me, moves me and also like to display my mindset through the power of words. I wish I did study some sort of creative writing. The amount of talented performers I have met through events and performances, I often feel like I have underwhelmed in comparison. Even when former Scottish Slam Champion Bram E. Grieben (who is fucking phenomenal and embodies everything great, and grim, about life and the spoken word art form) told me how much he enjoyed my set, how much he likes the fact I openly say “I don’t know what I’m doing”, I still feel a lost little boy. Never sure if I’m being judged, admired and sometimes maybe even poked and prodded at like an exotic animal at a zoo. Not that I would promote that. Never. At all.
So how the hell did I get to this point? I’ve stated before in my first column that “I am the Eagertongue” but…what is the Eagertongue and how does he write? I’ve recently become completely obsessed by the musician and poet Eric Paul. A total sexual deviant from what I gather in his words, but so lovingly romantic at the same time. He is my favourite writer in the whole wide world. I recently wrote to him to ask him about his poetry, his spoken word, and live performance. To my surprise he replied, numerous times in fact. He gave me a fantastic list of poets and performers who have immersed themselves in this spoken word world, burst through the door and stumbled onto stage, but on purpose, with passion.
I think I admire him so much because we have a similar background. I like to imagine that he too was obsessed with words and lyrics from a very young age. That much like myself, he was in various bands from the age of 16. Writing dirty, murky words shovelled up from the dirty, murky earth about love, sex and the beauty in the muck and the mire because it’s all we know. Or maybe I’m just making a fantasy relationship in my head.
But he’s talented. He’s beyond what I could ever hope to be.
Just like my inspired teenage self listening to Brand New’s ‘Deja Entendu’, his words captivate me, and most importantly, inspire me to do better, but still not care about what anyone may think. Because an artist is an artist. And art should never compromise. Should it?
“I’ve found my calling in speaking even if I’m not sure I’m meant to be spoken.”
I imagine he’s been here also. I imagine he’s been locked in the cave of unknown with a chink of light inviting him out to a new world, completely unaware if monsters existed outside of it. They do, they always do. Maybe it was a booby trap but he ventured out and fought them off.
In industry there is death, in death there is poetry.
My ninth performance was in a small basement bar in Berlin, at a night conveniently called ‘Berlin Spoken Word’. It was located in the Neukölln district of Berlin, Germany. It is a location adjacent to the popular artists and alleged hipster area of Kreuzberg. Set downstairs in the freezing basement, the only warmth comes from the hellos and welcoming glances of the performers and audience. One of the tiniest bars I’ve ever seen
The evening was predominantly performed in English with an eclectic mix of performances from British, Canadians, Americans, Turkish and of course Germans. For the first time, I felt at home and at ease as I sipped on my beer watching a wide range of story tellers, poets and musicians and awaiting my late slot performance.
It’s here I have finally found myself completely comfortable in spoken word and poetry. In the death of my dream to become a musician, a front man and an artist, I’ve found my calling in speaking even if I’m not sure I’m meant to be spoken, and frankly it’s got to a point where I don’t even care if I’m not.
As I walk off the little wooden floored stage in this small basement of a bar in Neukölln, I begin to smile amongst merry, multi lingual cheers and applause…
Because it seems that they don’t care either, despite the scary monsters.
When I Finally Found Jesse
Jesse had gone missing. No one had seen her for the best part of the weekend, but most of us hadn’t seen much else either. Whenever we woke up it was dark. I don’t mean in the sense that the sky had turned an orange shade of navy, but as in we had all been in such a haze, we’d forgotten we were learning the easier verbs in German.
Jesse wasn’t really someone many people would miss. She was often involved in group activities, but would vanish once Cupid had struck her back with his spear, where she would fall and spend the next 2 years giving us what some would call the silent treatment. She would always protest it was hard to keep in talk with a penis in her mouth. During her single years she would try to tease the younger boys by wearing a skirt that would only just reach the top of her thigh. She had been divorced three times. This turned the boys off and made it impossible for them to feel any sexual attraction. They would touch themselves rather than risk her love for the short term. She continued to eye them up despite all of this, as if choosing from a fresh menu at an all you can eat buffet.
When we eventually ventured over to her house, we chapped the door the best part of 3 times before I shouldered it open and lived out my childhood dream of being a policeman. Part of me feels that she would have been quite turned on by this, not my intention.
In the passage way I witnessed her swinging above the stairs. She had a smile on her face not seen in quite some time.
I made my way past Jesse, entering the bedroom, before witnessing all 3 of her previous husbands lying alongside each other. One more decayed than the other. One simply a skeleton.
On the bedside table I saw a fresh made urn with flowers and a unicorn painted on the side. A small note lay besides saying “burn us together. I’m sure each one of them at the lowest point loved me at least 33.3%. So together I would be 99.9% sure I wasn’t alone”
Her most recent husband’s dead body has decayed for little over a month, I would imagine. The smell was as putrid as you can imagine. I lay down beside each body in turn and hugged them. Then I puked in her cheaply made urn.
I always knew with Jesse, there was something not quite right.