Friday, 21 May 2010

Poetry Events

Top ten poetry moments then.

It's a different ballgame altogether, not least because poets can get away with so much more (even more reason to applaud Guthrie for his jazz accompaniment).

It's also different for me because it was so closely tied up with another true love of mine, music, when I first encountered it in a place other than school.

I'll not beat around the bush. Here goes.

1. Linton Kwesi Johnson. His mix of the Caribbean and Brixton, his sense of rhythm and rhyme, the integrity of the man and his politics, and then just look at his picture. He really did blow me away. LKJ - poetry royalty.

2. John Cooper Clarke. 1979 where it all started. The crazy beanpole in a suit, a mop of black on the top and a carrier bag full of writing. Married a monster from outer space, wrote a love song comparing a woman to an electric heater and had a thing with Nico. Alongside Elvis C and Richard Hell, it was a hell of a night for a young man.

3. Allen Ginsberg. Sometimes, being in the presence of a legend is enough. He exuded an energy, a bit like a minor deity. I didn't get to touch the hem of his cloak, but I heard his words and about his love of men. A beautiful thing.

4. Brian Patten. He could so easily be higher. Gently scouse, sweat and nervous energy. A shared beer on a lawn. It was, and still is, time to tidy up my life. The inspiration for the Rue Bella Magazine (RIP).

5. Roger McGough. More fun and laughs than Brian, but he can deftly handle the saddest of things and celebrate the most delicate.

6. Simon Armitage. Not just the northern accent or the absolute love of stories and images. His work is superb and even better when brought to life by the preambles.

7. Ivor Cutler. Even came on his bike, the crazy bugger. The potatoes were like stones.

8. Seamus Heaney. What a lyricist. He's lower down because he's probably too good for my brain to comprehend. Lovely Irish warmth. When I was published alongside him last winter, it was the high point of my writing tower to date.

9. Benjamin Zephaniah. It was a Reggae festival the first time, Aswad and Steel Pulse and others, down at the Brixton academy. Dis poetry had a riddim that rocked. Told us about meeting Lady Die to boot. And remember, a turkey is for life...

10. Gerry Cambridge/Bette O'Callaghan. Cheating to get an extra in. Gerry because I'd already finished my set and could sit back and revel in his words and Bette, also after my sets back in Camden Town for her rugged humour and ability to cut like diamonds.

So there you have it.

Another top 10? Unlikely pop-pickers, though the idea of a gig list seems sadly challenging.

Till soon.


  1. Damn Nigel, I almost fell off my chair when I saw this. Heavy duty company for an old bird.

  2. nice to see you here.
    and love the logo.
    will check our your blog later.