Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Spoken Word, Smackhead

Last night I performed a poem at a Spoken Word event. I use the word 'poem' loosely as my 'poems' are actually more like raps except I'm not ghetto enough to be a Badass Rapper and I never will be, so in actual fact they're just a collection of sentences, which don't say an awful lot and occasionally rhyme and I read them out really fast whilst involuntarily jabbing my hands about like Jay from Geordie Shore when he's talking about bringing a lass back, banging her and then sending her on her way in a taxi.

If you don't know what I'm talking about... forget it. Just forget it.

Me and Georgie went to Spoken Word (I'm feeling proper paranoid this week, not telling you where it is in case a stalker shows up next week to hear me read poetry, then hack me to pieces with a shard of pottery) for the first time last Monday, mainly to enjoy other people's work but secretly I also wanted to scope it out, to see if I felt like I could get involved and read some of my stuff out. After listening to a guy talking about snow over the sound of his friend playing saxaphone, and a lady singing about a lover she once took who had no legs, I decided that if there was ever going to be an audience who might not mind listening to 'a collection of sentences which don't say an awful lot and occasionally rhyme', then it was this one. Everyone was very attentive, interested, open-minded...

So last night I took my poem 'Sexy Homeless Man'. At first I thought I was going to be too late to sign up, and I was relieved, but then we got there and Laura had signed up for me. I was going to be on in the second part of the evening (there's an interval). I felt sick and my hands were shaking, but as the first act got going I forgot I was going to be reading my poem. As it was Shakespeare's birthday, most people had chosen something Shakespeare-themed and I started to worry that I'd look like a tit...

Fortunately there were others who hadn't chosen anything to do with Shakespeare, but as they read their poems about broken relationships and ended relationships and failed relationships (they were a lot of poems about relationships) I started panicking all over again because my 'poem' wasn't serious in any way, shape or form... What if people didn't find it funny? If it wasn't serious, and it wasn't funny, then what the hell was it? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that in actual fact, Sexy Homeless Man was a big pile of Nothing. I couldn't even remember why I'd written it, other than the fact that I saw a sexy homeless man, obviously.

The interval came and my heart was beating so fast... I thought about chickening out. I had a drink and a fag outside. I got chatting to this really lovely girl called Melissa, who was French but spoke fluent English (she said she was self-taught as well, grumble grumble bitter grumble) and I told her it was my first time reading and that I was really scared.

"Do you want to read it to me, now?" she asked.

We went moved round the corner, I took a deep breath and read it to her.

I couldn't read the look on her face at all. I thought she might be doing a 'oh that's good I like it' kind of face. Or was it more of a 'oh no this is really awkward what the fuck was that' face? Had she understood a single word I'd said?

"You know Misfits?" she said. "You sound like Kelly from Misfits!"

For the record, I DON'T sound like Kelly from Misfits, but a lot of French people tell me I do. I don't know why, I don't even know why so many French people like Misfits. The actress who plays Kelly is from Derby anywaywhich is... erm... well I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near Manchester.


To be honest, I think I'd spoken so quickly that she hadn't understand a word I'd said, but she seemed to genuinely like the way my voice sounded, even if she didn't know exactly what I was saying. I felt a bit more relaxed and decided to just play up my accent; I was hoping all the non-British people in the audience would find it novel and also they might not be able to understand the actual words...

After the interval, I still felt nervous but a little bit more confident after my practice run. (One of the problems with living in a chambre de bonne is that I can't practice performance poetry, because the neighbours will hear and think I'm talking to myself very loudly and rhythmically.) My heart was beating so hard though, I looked down and my cleavage ('What cleavage?' I hear you cry. Ha-di-ha. Not.) was visibly vibrating with each beat.

We had the three witches from Macbeth... my palms were slippery and I looked down to see with surprise that I was rubbing them together...

Then an American girl (or Canadian, sometimes I can't tell the difference, don't shoot me) read some of her poems, one of which included the line 'When he threw me from the bed, I felt like I was flying'... Then they called my name and I was standing up, tripping up to the front, my notebook tight in my hands...

Everyone clapped and cheered. It's a really warm audience, actually. I know I had that moan a few weeks ago where I said everyone in the English spoken word/writer's group scene in Paris is a snob and hates me for no good reason but sometimes you've got to stop and ask yourself the question: Maybe it's actually me who hates everyone else, for no good reason?

Anyway, I read my poem. I don't know if anyone liked it or not. I'm glad I got up there though, I'm grateful that I did it.

The problem is, when I got up there in front of all those people, my inner Attention Seeker kicked in and I was suddenly quite confident and not nervous. So if I go back there again and read another 'collection of sentences, which don't say an awful lot and occasionally rhyme', I'm worried everyone will think I'm really cocky about my crap poems and that I love myself as a Person and an Artiste...

Also, after my poem Laura, her husband (I know, it seems weird saying it because I don't know anyone else who is married!) and Georgie wanted to leave because it was getting on for half eleven, so I snuck out quietly with them and now I'm worried everyone will think I was being rude...

"Goodbye my loves, I'd love to stay but frankly, it'd be a draaaag. I've done MY poem, you've fed my ego with your insincere applause and now I'm going to SWAN off into the night because I don't give a DAMN about listening to anyone else's poem."

Also me and the nice girl who let me practice my poem on her said we'd swap numbers and be pals, but I left without giving her my number... I'm like the Poem Bomber, turn up, shout a poem at you quickly, and then leave. BOOM. Except... it wasn't even a poem, not really.

Right. I'm off to bed. But tomorrow I must tell you about my news!!! Life choices to be made, decisions to be decided.

JUST DELETED A WHOLE MASSIVE PARAGRAPH. SO ANNOYED.

Can't be arsed writing it again. But to paraphrase it...

I was woken this morning by my dentist. She was really angry and kept shouting raté which means missed or failed. Eventually she calmed down and said I can go in on Friday (so going to have to miss work) but I'm really apprehensive because the tooth which she has taken the nerve out of has started hurting again. How can it hurt if there is no nerve??? The gum around it has gone a bit black and the white stuff she sealed the tooth with has disappeared, so I have half a tooth and the sharp edges cut into my tongue and it's all swollen. I just know it's going to need loads more serious, horrible work done. She'll take the tooth out and it will give me a sunken jaw and make me look like a smackhead.

Good night.


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