Tuesday, April 11, 2017
THE POET AS A MAKER
I've a chapbook to my name Mandible (Slapering Hol Press, 2014) courtesy of The African Poetry Book Fund. One of my friends called its voice 'completely unexpected' we talked about how much of a self confessed rambler I am and how that and my spoken word background led her to expect something else from the book. She loved it but wondered if I had 'left something of [my]self' out of it. That is reason number four that I am very glad I published that work. I am able to deal with my work far outside my body and its (actual) voice - or whatever other props I employ consciously or otherwise - because that distance has been very productive. And to retire some poems because there was the self imposed obligation that once I thought a poem was done I wanted to share it live, some over and over but once they were published I could free up that head space. I'm not making an argument for books as some sort of literary graveyard, that's just how my head works/ed at that point. In many ways the publishing was not an end in itself but a clear way for the work to live in different spaces.
I began as, and still am, a spoken word poet in the sense that I love to read my work out loud and often write poems that would present themselves as ...unusual (depending who you ask) were they to be placed quietly on the page. That said, in hindsight, I don't like to hear my own voice. I suspect where we meant to, we would sound just as we imagine ourselves to on and off recordings but that's not been the case for me. It's easy enough to pseudo-distance myself mid performance/reading because I am engaging outwardly - I am invested in my listeners' experience not (primarily) my own. I'm notorious for slipping away if some recording of my voice starts to play because all I can do in that moment is be a critical listener - though it is I who am speaking, but like Marshall and his BreakBeat poets I very much "believe in the necessity for poems to live in multiple media (page, performance, video, audio, various multi-genre presentational forms)."
I've thus far recorded 2 CDs (including one with my band Sonic Slam Chorus) and been featured on others' projects, as well as on websites such as lyrikline where the work appears in English alongside its German translation. There's also a lot of unsanctioned material on the web - plenty to humble any ideas of self aggrandisement.
And I've shot two videos. Both Neon Poem and Dreams were filmed in Cambodia by the talented Masahiro Sugano (Studio Revolt). Neon Poem borrows its opening line from Amiri Baraka's controversial poem Black Art. Do take a look and listen.
Yours, as always.