I have always been jealous of poets. If you gave me a piece of paper and asked me to write a love letter, or an essay, or a blog then I would bring something to the table. I would not hesitate. By the time you finished reading this sentence, I would already be biting my lip deep in thought, scrawling down some ideas with a chewed biro. But I have never grasped poetry.
When students were burning their anthologies after they finished their English exams, I kept mine. I was never a devotee of Shakespeare but even my numbskull worked out he was a genius. I read Shelley’s Ozymandias 10 times the first time I saw it because it taught me about hubris. All of these words might not mean anything to you but they broadened my mind. Yet metre, rhyme and verse seemed to be ancient – relics of a middle-aged white man’s canon that I had no means of accessing, other than through old textbooks at school…
…then years later, sitting in a café in East London I was too young to appreciate, I heard someone rhyme on a microphone. I was not a fan of rap, nor its connotations, but this was different. This person wore a Trilby, read out of a Moleskine and rolled up the bottom of their jeans. The words rhymed, but they didn’t talk about daffodils or a rose by any other name, but about their Mum and leaving home. The words danced. And I closed my eyes and I felt the hair on the back of my neck move to the beat.
Spoken word changed the way I thought about poetry and hip-hop. It breathed life into something that I could never revive. But I never felt the confidence to write a single line, so I just listened and absorbed the words of George the Poet and Akala. Anthony Anaxagorou and Dean Atta. Kate Tempest and Dizraeli. Sarah Kay. Names are not important, but these talisman and women made me believe that finally the lines need to be written.
And so this is a call to those of you that like poetry or spoken word. Speak to me. Give me some advice. I have no idea where to start, but I know that the evolution of writing for me, ends in rhyme. If you have written, performed or just appreciate something then please start a conversation with me. From Khalil Gibran to Doctor Seuss, I am a sponge.
I made a bet with someone to write at least one poem and to share it with them. I now have a month left to fulfil it. If it is good then I have confirmed that I will perform it to an audience. This could be the start of something big. Watch this space.