I was at the Cumberland Arms last night for the BBC poetry slam. I (sort of) really enjoyed the night but found it a little difficult to really get into the vibe. If I hadn't gone on my own - as I usually do to these things - it might have been a little easier. The main problem was how to answer the question "So, how've you been?" or what to say when someone says "You're looking really well" when the last three weeks have been hell and you're looking at weeks, months before you start to feel safe again. Does anyone really want to hear anything other than "great"? I decided to stay in my seat for the second interval.
The poets that really stuck in my mind were Scott Tyrrell (of course), Radikal Queen, Alfie Crow and Ross Sutherland... I'm very tempted to try my own univocalic poem though I'm not sure that it would be quite as accomplished as Ross' first round poem. Radikal Queen's style reminded me of Jill Scott, rhythmic, soulful. I was impressed by her delivery and slightly jealous of the fact that she seems to be the sort of spoken word artist I'd like to be... but my identity as a Black Briton has always been at odds with the perceived notion of black cultural identity, I'd feel like a fake if I attempted it. I thought Alfie's decisions to go with a gutsy, subversive use of nursery rhyme forms to create a jarring, disturbing view of "broken Britain" probably cost him the competition but in my view he deserved to be in the top two.
I wonder if karma was at work during the evening... Ross Sutherland was denied the second place spot by (I think) 0.1 of a point. During the first interval there was a queue at the bar, I waited patiently to get my two Fentiman's (a ginger beer and a victorian lemonade) and just before I got to the front said poet swaggered in front, seemingly oblivious to the queue, and got promptly served... Of course, I said nothing... to be honest I couldn't be bothered to be bothered.
When I got home I peered through a gap in the curtain to watch Daniel before I went in. He was sitting in his chair smiling and looking to his left talking to his "Dannysitter" Gayle. He looked almost the same as before in the sitting room light. Like nothing had ever happened and this was any night.