For those who may be following my poetry career, I’ve recently been named as one of the top spoken word performers in the West Midlands, and will be taking part in a series of poetry performances later this spring in connection with that. The Midlands project is called SIX OF THE BEST and is being run by Richard Grant (aka Dreadlockalien), the current Poet Laureate for Birmingham. Most of the events will take place at the Library Theatre, Birmingham, from April onwards. I'll have details of ticket prices and dates etc nearer the time.
My audition piece for SIX OF THE BEST was a three poem set based on my creation, Darwin Duke, originally published in my first collection with Bloodaxe Books (see Links column). Here is an extract from the poem, which is strongly narrative in form and seems to translate well into a performance setting:
THREE TESTS FOR DARWIN DUKE
What’s a boy to do with a mother like mine,
a woman who never ran away to join a circus in her life,
though she wanted to
once or twice, but never spoke it out loud
in case I took her at her word: saw her,
sequinned, hanging from a rope
in that billowing canvas,
the death-wish of a golden mane
bunched like a fistful of corn beneath her,
two steps back from the raised chair of a tamer
but herself untamed
in that great tide of people roaring
the foot-stamp ring of their clapping.
Yet she blinked that thought at me
three times under her eyelids,
on her knees in the dust of the yard, praying
or just scrubbing the doorstep.
She baked it into her meat and potato pies
and the rise of her home-made bread, like a secret
written in flour on her shining forehead,
bright and coarse from the heat of an oven
or the long slow slop of water on a scrubbing-board.
‘Darwin,’ she would say,
though my father christened me Albert,
‘it’s a short hard fall from the top
of the wash-house step,
so mind you never take it in the dark
or leap across it like your father did,
god rest his soul, carrying two chickens
and not thinking where his foot might fall.’