Monday, 17 August 2015

Do Nothing

All right, poetry folk? Yes, I know. I know. I've been very quiet for some time now. No blog updates, no new poems, no gigs, not even the odd open mic appearance. I'm not going to pretend that anybody cares all that much what I get up to - very few people care all that much about what any poet bar the most popular ones have to say - but I do feel the need to at least justify it to myself. Even if very few other people are saying it, I do still have a voice in my head asking "Are you sure you're not on the verge of giving poetry up for good?"

So this could be denial, but nonetheless, here's the main reasons for my silence:

1. Life got complicated and busy.

There are numerous things going on at the moment. For starters, I'm trying to buy a house, a process which seemed pretty simple to start with provided me and my partner weren't too fussy about our final destination, but has obviously bundled a lot of stress and uncertainty into my life. These elements spur some people on to brilliant work, but the effect they tend to have on me is that I lose focus.

And also, there are other events and worries which are private business and therefore outside the remit of this blog. That good old whiskery fun-loving guy Uncle SpareFunTimes isn't my friend right now.

2. Because life got complicated and busy, I've felt the need for light relief much more.

So when I've finished work at 7pm, my first thought hasn't been "I know what I need right now! A nice foaming nut brown ale and a two hour poetry gig, with me trying my new pieces out at the open mic beforehand!" It's been "God, I think I need a drink, some decent company, a good conversation, and preferably that pub up the road with the really good jukebox with loads of Northern Soul on it".

I know the love some people have for poetry is greater than their need for social interaction, but I'm afraid I can't push things that far. I need to speak to people as well as listen to them sometimes.

3. In terms of live work, the circuit isn't really very geared up to work like mine at the moment, so I'm disinclined to waste energy.

I've been doing this for twenty years now, and I hope to carry on for another twenty at least, and I'm able to recognise the temporary nature of dominant styles and trends. The poetry circuit is very geared up towards young, snappy, immediate work at the moment, whether that's hip-hop or comedy influenced, and it's presently harder than usual for subtle or reflective poetry to get slots on bills, especially if it's being delivered by established stalwarts (and I'm quoting the last couple of descriptions I had from promoter's bills with 'stalwart' here, not making it up) rather than fresh new names. Ten years ago, I'd have panicked about this. Right now though, it illicits a big "meh". It will pass. Trends in the arts are much more fleeting than you'd suspect, trust me, and vacuums get very quickly filled.

"But you've made what you do sound really boring there, and I saw you at a mixed comedy/ poetry bill this year and you weren't, you went down quite well". Thanks for saying that, sir! What can I get you to drink?

In the meantime, there's no point in me knocking myself out at open mics or slams (which, in terms of the latter, I don't really do anymore anyway) if it doesn't pay any dividends. I don't really feel I need the practice time unless I'm working on new material, and even if I do get a really positive audience response, it's not going to do much to convince the average promoter that the work I produce has a place in their scheme of things. Most have already made up their minds. They already know who I am, where I am, where they can contact me, and what I do. So, being pressed for time and money and energy at the moment, I'm treating this as a "will go out and do things when I feel I need to" situation. (And I probably will be back out very soon, because I can feel myself being pulled towards it as I type this).

4. I've been writing a lot of stuff that doesn't necessarily lean towards live performance.

Short stories, prose pieces, quite layered poetry. That's when I've been writing at all, of course. This year hasn't been that productive, I admit.

5. We need another night like "Walking The Dog" again.

No, I mean it, we do. If somebody just ran a poetry night with a nice load of drinking and socialising on the side, where people were chatting happily in the break and catching up with each other and meeting new and interesting people rather than pushing product and networking, I'd go to it.

Anyway, that's my excuses for being quiet. I'll update the blog in another three months with more excuses if things flag further still.