Monday, July 11, 2005

Slam Poetry for a Sunny Afternoon!

The sun may have been making a rare outing, but in the cool shade of The Long Walk, all you could hear were birds and the whisper of passing traffic. We were here to listen to Poetry and drink free G&Ts, and as the punters began to arrive, you could sense the excitement. After an introduction from the gorgeous Lucy who runs this show and the superb Clare Pollard who organised the poetry events, we were off!

Who of the thirty-or-so of us could have imagined that we would hear from the guy the Metro called ‘The Nigerian Slam Veteran’ and from London Underground’s first Resident Writer. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Inua Ellams - aka Phaze - went on first, a shockingly talented and easy-on-the-eye twenty year old who only started Slam Poetry two years ago. His super-cool confidence and rap-stucco delivery charmed the crowds, drawing people in off the streets and into the shade. As workers ate their lunch, they were entertained by intelligent, referential, political poetry… not what we’re led to expect from the youth of today. Who else, but Phaze, could have had the lines ‘Lugubriously labelled’ and ‘A Hug from God’ in the same set? Although my favourite line has to be ‘Fury of the Last Bohemian’, which would be a great way to sum of these energetic Slam poems.

In between breaks, the crowds enjoyed free G&Ts, relaxing and chatting as if on a summer holiday. I sat back and marvelled at the cross-section: older, younger, men, women, right across class and race divides, its wonderful how poetry can unite. It makes you wonder if our politicians took to free-style, how different the world would be.

Now, if Phaze is the cool, sussed Benjamin Zephaniah of Slam Poetry, then Abe was a sultry Barry White (without the belly). Richard, the charming compeer, introduced him as a ‘sensitive, sensuous, assured poet… like being caressed by a particularly skilled lover… with a bit of a bite’. Easy there, Richard! But you see his point. I’ve heard Abe before and he is just mesmerising. This is true performance poetry, delivered in a languid deep bass, slipping in and out of characters, as if he was telling us a conversation overheard, drawing us into through the voices, perceptive one-liners, and again… that deep, slow voice. You can see why Richard was so moved. Indeed, one member of the audience cried at Abe’s poems, which is impressive, seeing as she was distracted by the constant clapping of her two-year old. Abe told me afterwards that he always looks out for the one person in the audience who is really listening… Abe, those two were all yours. My line to take away? ‘Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you sometimes to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.’

Slam Poetry in the Clerkenwell sunshine… I totally recommend it. Turn up with your sarnies, hang out, let our daily dose of poetry relax and entertain you. 1:00 in The Long Walk at St James’s Church… it has to be heard, to be believed!


Anonymous INua said...

Hey! Poetry in the park! Lets make a stand and boo plastic music! (the Mekcle-grebs undertand me). Anyways, I had a heap of fun down there... so check out Selana today, she is brilliant, I know this to be true....
Anyways, I'm out.


10:01 am  

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