Sunday, 24 February 2008

Make 'em laugh

Many thoughts on performance this week. Partly because Verona and I have our slot at Out of the Woods next week (poems and songs). It's a big venue - a big crowd. Partly because of seeing poet Don Paterson last week in Dundee (see post below). Partly because the beloved and I also went to see comedian Frankie Boyle at the newly refurbished Arbroath Webster Theatre in the same week (bizarrely on Valentine's day...Mock the Week's finest not exactly known for his romantic take on life).
I've been thinking a lot about the pressure to be funny when you read poems in public (especially if you're not in a conventional poetry reading setting which I rarely am). People seem to think I am funny ('you should be a stand-up' I've heard a few times) and there's no getting away from the fact that it does feel good to make people laugh. Still, I have no intention of being funny full time - for a start it always looks so grim (unless you're one of the very few real natural comedians). Watching Frankie Boyle was quite depressing. He is funny and I kind of liked him but I hated watching him go for the obvious laugh too often and I hated some of the post-PC material. There is a reason we needed some of the changes to comedy that came in the 1980s....too much comedy has slipped back into misogyny or just material that women feel we have to laugh at or we look like we have no sense of humour. Not me - it'll be a long time before I find rape funny, I'm afraid. And the worst thing was I don't think he even liked doing some of that stuff himself - he seemed a lot more sensitive than his comedy persona. Which is a weird position to be in, isn't it? It would do my head in for sure. Honesty is the only thing that gets me through...I'm fanatical about it. many 'funny' poems do I read next week? How many less so? I am a bit wary of being labelled with the light slight. I find it odd the poems that get called light in the first place...sometimes they may be fairly simple in form but that doesn't stop them having a killer point to make or observation. Robin from our folk club once said something lovely to me about my poems having 'steel within' (or something like that...can't remember exact phrase). Some people see it and hear it and some people don't I suppose. Some people assume I'm just light myself which is so far from the truth that that really makes me laugh! If anything I'm far too intense, far too analytical and often ridiculously pessimistic. If I didn't make light of things sometimes I think I might just explode. And some people think I'm uneducated which isn't true either. I may be ignorant sometimes (who isn't?) but I'm more educated than you might imagine. I just hate doing that whole 'I am my CV' thing, defining yourself by where you went to college years ago.
Anyway, this all turned into a poem called 'Make 'em laugh' which is about desperation I suppose. Here it is.

Make 'em laugh

Love me, love me
Say that you love me
At least just notice me
Give me a sign

Laugh at me, laugh with me
Let's not be too fussy
Hear me and want me
And tell me I'm fine

Watch me, be there for me
Save me some sanity
Smile at me, care for me
Care that I'm here

Laugh at me, look at me
This can't be good for me
Needy and sorry
So thin on veneer

Help me, yes help me
Humour me thoroughly
Here is my inner plea
Act like a friend

Love me, just love me
Whatever you think of me
Don't sneak out guiltily
Stay till the end.

RF 2008

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Poets, poets, everywhere...

I need least some routine, somehow...and routine of late has been writing this on a Sunday and it's 11.51 so I might just make it. I would have written earlier but I was in Dundee this evening seeing Don Paterson and Mondo Mimmo and Mr Gavin McGinty at the Acoustic Cafe so I thought there might be something to say about that. So... is there?
I went along with another Fox poet - Pat Fox, recently moved to Dundee from Edinburgh. There are a lot of poets called Fox, I think.
As for the famous poet tonight - I'd read some poems but never seen or heard Don Paterson so was keen to go. Even better Acoustic Cafe (as you might guess from the name) is not a poetry night as such (more music with some words now and again..). Call me a philistine (or worse) but I'm not a big fan of whole nights of just poetry. The intensity you get from poetry...I like a few moments, at least, to let it sink in before intensity strikes again.
So...I'd heard and read so much about Paterson that I was a bit terrified really but he seemed just another merrily neurotic soul in the flesh. I expected confidence and arrogance and he may have all that but it was nicely dressed up with twitches and self-deprecation and mumbling. I liked him...couldn't hear the poems very well (he seemed almost embarrassed to do any serious poems) but he relaxed with funny ones and short ones and a long prose piece about being in a band and he played some great guitar. Was he nervous about being on home ground..about being in a music place with young not-balding people in the audience? Maybe he's just twitchy all the time. I know I am...the train in nearly finished me off...especially as there was Alan Partridge (in student form) sitting behind me. It was too weird for words. is now Monday and bedtime.
p.s. Don Paterson 'fucking hates blogs' - in case you were interested...

Sunday, 10 February 2008

A dream is a wish your heart makes...

Sorry for the Cinderella heading but it's been a weekend full of little girls. Plus dreams have been this week's subject as there has been much talk of them with our small girl ('how do other people get in my dreams?' 'can I touch them?' 'are they still there now?'). She even lay down on her bed in the middle of Saturday morning to try to get back into a particularly good dream. Parallel universe, indeed.

Also I got to grips with a poem that has been brewing for a while. Its starting point was the phrase so popular with Big Brother contestants 'live the dream'. The poem ('A dream is a song of hope') is on my myspace page and going well so far. It is not at all what I thought it would fact it is such a breast-beater that I'm wondering whether I should go off and train as some kind of evangelical minister - except for my complete lack of any interest in god, I think it could be the career I've always been heading for. Myspace blogs seem to be playing up today but it is there via my MySpace under the blog headed 'live the dream'.

Also I've been dreaming with my book to be. We've started laying out pages and the title changes every day (no, every other day). I know it will be hard work pushing it myself but just now I feel oddly confident. Verona and I are in training for our songs and poems spot on March 2nd too and having great fun getting back into singing to the trees in my front garden. We'll try a couple of songs at the folk club on Tuesday and get her back in full performance mode! I have another new poem for then too - a not very lovey love poem called 'Avon kiss' (named after a Burns mishearing on the radio).

Till next week

Sunday, 3 February 2008

To book or not to book

Up till this year I've been quite happy not having a book of my poems. I have loved having the postcards - the freedom, the lightness (I'm talking weight here), the way they fly off round the place...maybe being read by postal workers the world over (well, you never know).
But this year all of a sudden I feel different. I've been writing poems pretty much solidly for about ten years. I dabbled with stories and journalism and plans for novels in the past but I've known deep, deep (really deep) down that poetry is the thing for me for a while now. Since I started sending poems out and reading in public (past couple of years really) I've had a lot of great reactions and so I do feel that publishing a book this year wouldn't be a complete waste of resources and other people's time. I know there will be people who say I'm not good enough or formal enough or crafty enough or whatever...but you can't please everybody and those people have quite a lot of poets already doing the kind of writing they want to read and hear. I write for all the people who don't have many poets writing what they want to read (and I know this because people say it to me all the most usual positive reaction is 'if poetry was more like your stuff, I'd read it/buy it etc').
So, that's pretty much what I'm working on. I have a working title and am compiling lists and lists and lists of lists (I LOVE lists). I will probably publish it myself (with a lot of help from him indoors and friends). I want it to be as green as possible (the cards have all been on recycled card) because it seems daft to do it any other way. It would be nice to have a publisher to sort it all for me but I think the amount of energy I could use up looking for one (and probably not finding one)...well, I may as well use that energy on just making the damn book! It will cost money but I don't spend money on all the stuff everyone else does (clothes, all that other crap other women buy, holidays, travelling in general...all I buy is food and cds!) so I'll probably manage it somehow...
I can imagine the house may not get cleaned much this year though. Shame.