the foundations of oppression can't be plucked up without the anger of a multitude

On Putting Up The Ticket Price at Hammer & Tongue

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On Putting Up the Ticket Price at Hammer & Tongue

You think it’s easy,
being this airy poet dude
and still going out to earn a living?
My usefulness, such as it is,
resides in twisting words into strings of sweetly wrapped
bricks of meaning
to smash the glass walls of the discourse we’re trapped in.
I do this by going on long walks, sipping herbal tea,
chatting long and late with good people
and regularly musing on past artists.
This does not pay well at present.
So instead I try to contain my fluid poet self as a PRU teacher.
Arriving 40 minutes late,
having been up till six
sharing stolen cherries with a delectable nude
and sleeping through my alarm clock,
then spending a day being abused by rude kids
with an extreme resistance to learning,
is a not untypical Tuesday.
Temperamentally unsuited to the 5 day week and wage labour:
I strike while the iron is hot,
watch the sparks become fire flies
dive through my mind to find the right neural quarks
to impart as carvings on tablets of rock.

Just think of all the stuff I waste piss money on everyday
that gives me less feeling of being
a rationally emotional
individually connected
human being,
than I get from hearing a decent poem.
Why not put us on TV for the same kind of fees
they pay to film those unreal-looking people
to piss about on an island?
Why don’t you pay on the door of a poetry night
the same for your ticket price
as you pay for two, small bottles of craft ale
transported from up the road
on a Deliveroo cargo bike?
Why not pay Salena Godden whatever she needs
as a monthly salary to keep her in whisky and cigarettes
and pirate dresses?
And let her write poetry.
Why not award an annual stipend
to cover the cost of construction and maintenance
of a solar and wind-powered wood shed,
in which Jonny Fluffypunk can sit
and compose his masterpiece?
Let’s crowdfund Kat Francois’s food deliveries
and let her have the best organic vegetables
soil, sun and rain water can produce.
So she can write poems
and run marathons every week
like the hard-arsed genius she is.
Let’s find a friendly rich person who can buy Elvis McGonagall
an upgraded caravan
so he can roll about the country to his heart’s content
pulling down the curtains behind which the Wizards of Oz have been hiding?
Fund Jam Baxter and Dizraeli and my boy Reload
and everything that matters in the UK rap and hip hop scene.
And continue to buy anything that Kate Tempest ever does.

Instead of arguing over who called who names on social media,
pick up a poem.
Instead of watching tired pundits
having tired banter on the sofa
and debating whether it should have been a penalty
(it was, forget it),
nationalise the Premier League,
and then write poems about it.

Check your privilege.
Forget your status.
Look after your pounds but don’t begrudge a penny.
Indeed, if you find a penny, pick it up,
or better yet still, give it to a poet
and with any luck Richard Purnell and Poetcurious
Paula Varjack, Keith Jarrett, Michelle Madsen,
Zena Edwards, Mark Gwynne Jones
and everybody else who ever wants to
one day on a whim
can write us a poem.
And instead of paying so called intellectuals
(with tax payers money)
to answer such taxing questions as:
do poor people go to jail more?
is it acceptable to be against the Israeli state’s war on Gaza?
pay Steve Larkin sixty grand a year
to run a national slam network.
Pay Dan to run Bang,
pay Chris to do Tongue Fu
pay Shay to do all the things she’s doing;
and, for all the other people running great poetry nights
with little more than a little love to show for it,
let them get paid too.
Let’s fund Wandering Word to have a stage
at every decent music festival in the country,
and let us at least have some time
to plot the devices of our misery
to make us wondered at in better times to come.


Put your money where your mouth is and come see me at my next gig: Thursday 15th February 2018 at Vout-O-Reenees, The Crypt, 30 Prescot St. London, E1 8BB. Artists celebrating Western Sahara



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