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4th Feb: Nottingham The Maze

19th Feb: Say Owt Slam at York The Basement

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

20.16 Blog #3: Like, I heard you Like LikePages

This week, my Facebook LikePage hit over 900 Likes.  I made the Page I think around 2009-10 when I finished University, and I was doing so many different gigs I wanted to put everything into a concise place.  That’s why it’s called Henry Raby’s Punk Poetry rather than just ‘Henry Raby’.  I wanted people to like the poetry, not the person. 

But of course, a LikePage isn’t really the work, and people don’t look at the poem without the poet.  Barthes argues the Death of the Author, detaching the writer from his work.  I’ll probably examine this in details in another Blogpost, but in performance poetry, you do make yourself into the ‘celebrity’.  We talk about ‘bearing your soul’ but at the very least, write about what you know, what you love, hate, believe in and want to change.  Unapologetically?  It would help.  It’s not Henry’s Raby’s work, like the LikePages of deceased authors recycle their work (@Pinter_Quotes is ace), it’s Henry (hi) sharing Henry Raby’s work.

I have been thinking lately how you don’t get much sense of my personality, or even work, from what I share on my LikePage.  It’s mainly a mouthpiece to direct people to events, recordings or this blog.  The posts are usually “This is coming up” or “I did this”.

So what do I use this Facebook page for, with all 900 people?  Well, there’s the fallacy I reach that many, often Facebook tells me it’s been ‘seen’ by about 80 people.  And let’s be realistic, where do these 900 people from?  People who are my friends for one, and then people associated with the poetry scene.  The punk scene.  People I’ve connected with in theatre, touring in rural networks.  It’s a desperate bunch, so how do I advertise what I do to the wide spread?

The amount of traffic that moves through Facebook is essential for promotion.  Sometimes the traffic is a slow trundle, as people scroll through pages on a casual basis.  Other times, it’s a squashed marketplace as everyone vies for attention.  Just having a Page means keeping up with the traffic, being part of that bustling, or boring, connectivity.

I am increasingly finding Facebook more and more impersonal, and as much as it’s practical aspect is something a promoter comes to rely on, it’s only one form of ‘socialness’.  And whilst some artists, Scroobius Pip being a good example, have a great online presence and therefore strong relationship with his audience, fans and friends, I don’t really want to cultivate this presence.  I want to feed this into other aspects of life.  Admittedly, some of those are other corners of the impersonal internet (hello, this is one) but also make sure that the videos I upload are hints of the live performances, the blogs are about livness, the website is about live events and the promotion of events are central.

I’m not anti-social media, and I don’t think it’s an ‘issue’ that’s affecting millennial that we are glued to screens.  But I do think we need to be aware there is the possible of duel worlds, and let’s feed them into one another, let the social media be there to feed into live events, which then go towards feeding into online communities and hubs.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

20.17 Blog #2: Three Anti-Facist Songs

Like a child in a shop who constantly cries for the sweetie, UKIP have constantly and doggedly dragged immigration to the heart of the county’s political issues, smokescreening away from the efforts of the ConDems and subsequently Pure Tory governments to hammer down against the poor and minorities following their Etonian blueprint.   This has led to a rise in the far right, not just in militant forms like the EDL and Britain First, but also a worrying undercurrent of casual cursing towards ethnic minorities.  Whether that’s arguing with strangers in the pub or blocking fascist marches or more active in shutting down detention centres and systems.

I wrote this poem last year.  

Whether or not it only exists in my leftie echo-chamber, I don’t know, but I do want to write a more accessible piece for audiences in any context, in any open mic.  If you’re in the music scene, write yourself an anti-fascist song for the music open mics.  If you’re in the punk scene, think hard about whether your songs are generic posturing to dunk punx or actually have impact.

And, all the time, let’s remember the narrative of Nazis = Bad is mind-numbingly obvious.  The right wing are, for the most part, hiding their guise behind waxy respectability and seeding fear into our everyday perception of our neighbours.  It’s power structures, white privilege and class division we need to address in ourselves and how we prop up these systems.

So let’s cut to the chase, they gotta be opposed in some capacity.  As The Men They Couldn’t Hang sing, ♪by words, fists, stones or by the gun
So I thought I’d just blog 3 Anti-Fascist songs from 2016 to give us inspiration in 2017


I caught Atterkop years back at Boomtown Fair, and their new album charges along like a pounding train, but keeps the elements of ska and dub without crossing into overly hardcore territory and losing that bouncy energy.  It’s unapologetic in its delivery, and no song represents this moreso than Picket Fence which is an anthemic call-to-arms   There’s a lovely plinky opening riff which sets a tainted mood, followed by the warcry of ♫ Your days are numbered, we will defeat you, Anti-Facist through and through ♪.  It’s an album which won’t convert anyone to the cause (or even the genre) but somedays you just need to be shouty until your heart hurts.


KINKY’s album Sissy Mosh is full of queer rage (and swearing) but actually Legal Fucking Murder has something more unique in that it shows characters, places and stories as well as the raging hardcore and crushing bitterness within the screaming.  Rather than have everything blare at once, the song builds which puts emphasis on the characters in the song, and then hits home with the powerful chorus of ♫ they call it the border, I call it legal fucking murder ♫.  It's also essential to note the most powerful form of fascism comes in the guise of our own country's laws


SB6 have always been great at telling stories within their music, alongside the use of music to explore cultures and genre-fusions.  Here, a trad ska backing which wouldn’t be out of place a 2Tone DJ set, highlights the irony of racists who enjoy ska (and other Black music).  The story tells the story of Johnny who gets drawn into a world of racism and the right-wing, but singer Laila very bravely draws the focus, centres herself to be seen, and heard.  There sympathy for Johnny as he gets twisted by a hate-fuelled agenda, and that's one of the best ways that art can challenge fascism, by highlighting difference voices in our world but, inevitably, pointing towards hope   Well if you want to hate me, here I am 

These 3 songs are savagely unapologetic.  And as much as we need to be flexible to enter dialogue, discourse and convince people that racism is not something to embrace, but fight, we must also have conviction and unflinchingly challenge, agitate, offer solidarity, offer support and resist.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

20.17 Blog #1: Rogue 1-2017

Better reviewers than I have summarised 2016 and Rogue One.  My rating of 2016 has been poor from a personal level, Things Happened which knocked me down.  Like a mid-90s anarchist punk song, I [tried] to get back up again.  Everyone seems to agree that 2016 was a sad year for deaths, the [increased] rise of the far right and further instability for security.  They also tend to agree Rogue One was pretty great.

Let’s be right about this, Star Wars has always been a continuum.  It didn’t end in 1983, it continued with the various novels and comic books and the adventures I created with my hand-me-down action figures in my Granny’s front room.

I’m not keen on the narrative that Star Wars ‘came back’ in 1999 and it was crap, and then ‘came back’ in 2015 and it was ace.  Because, for all it’s flaws, Lucas was trying to expand the universe of Star Wars with the Phantom Menace, he tried to show us a different world to that of the sterile Empire.  He tried to introduce the Jedi council, not the disparate Jedis in hiding in deserts and swamps.  He tried to set up the dawn of a new character arc for Anakin Skywalker.  He obviously failed, because Phantom Menace is an incredibly flawed film, like a stuttering lightsabre trying it’s  best to vzzz and vuummm.

By contrast, 2015’s The Force Awakens is a riotous romp, but recycles a huge amount of materials it’s hard to differentiate the references from the tributes.  There are so many nods to the other 6 films it’s like a vigorous head shake.  But it’s forgivable because it’s fun, frantic and funny.  It’s everything Star Wars should be, heroes vs. baddies in SPACE.

So what is the worst Star Wars film?  Attack of The Clones of course, because even though Lucas failed to craft a decent film with The Phantom Menace, he had the chance to rescript, recast and pass the baton to another director, as he did for Empire Strikes Back.  As it stands, he did not and we are left with another outing of CGI nonsense and lacklustre plot.

Even though the previous instalment was rubbish, he didn’t learn his lesson.

That’s why The Force Awakens tried to play it safe with familiarity.  And though chronologically Rogue One comes before The Force Awakens in the Star Wars story, clearly the 2016 is a contextual ‘sequel’ to 2015 film and Gareth Edwards toned down the references and nods (though still there) to try and explore a new (old) world under the surface of smugglers, traitors, saboteurs, assassins and rebels and not the force-wielding samurai of the other films.

And that is why, if we consider 2017 a sequel to 2016, we must take the past and make it better.

Each year we inevitably say:  “Have a happy and peaceful 2017” and wish each other the best, but all years have negatives and positives, with the remnants of the old year, whether good or bad, still clinging to the hull.  Creating our own sequel is hard, we cannot erase the past, and we cannot erase the right-wing victories and rise of fascism that will bleed into this year.  But we also have the opportunity to rethink this 2017 as we always rethink a sequel.

Let’s make 2017 neither Attack of The Clones, nor even The Force Awakens.  Although not perfect, let’s make it the Rogue One of the 2010s.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

20.16 Blog #30: Blogs and bands, poems and young people

My phone must have crashed, or ran out of memory, or decided to rewrite history, because the calendar has lost all the details from the past year.  It’s quite scary how I have to now rely on my memory to note what has happened this year.

I slap my posters on my wall from every event I put on, so thankfully I have some record in the form of paper and bluetack

We hit 13 slams and 2 years running of Say Owt Slam.  We kicked off with the very unique and honest poet Sally Jenkinson, followed by a feast of poets, Rose Drew, Lily Luty, Marina Poppa, Adele Hampton and headliner Sophia Walker  for International Women's Festival.  A little later we ran an Anti-Slam, this beautifully bizarre new concept of worst poet wins championed by Dan Simpson and Paula Varjack.  Our Clash of Champions, guested by Jack Dean, was won by Ian Winter.  After popping over to Edinburgh Fringe, we then returned with a spate of slams with Scott Tyrrell, Vanessa Kisuule and finally Rob Auton.  We also ran a couple of open mics hosted by Chris Singleton and Gen Walsh.  And that's not to mention all the wonderful slammers that came and cracked out words, and the amazing audiences who constantly bring the energy to make the nights so intense, but friendly. It’s hard to get a handle for me, I see behind-the-scenes, in front-of-the-scenes and the script-for-the-scenes so it all becomes very day-to-day for me.  But I know much the nights matter to people, and I always appreciate the feedback, the support, the love from the York scene, travelling poets, the guests and Apples & Snakes.  We have BIG plans for 2017, and started recording a Podcast now on iTunes, so I’d say Say Owt is the most visibly one of the big hits of 2016.  Thanks to everyone x

Sequels are always difficult, and I made a laborious joke of this in my second show at EdFringe in 2 years.  I’ll admit, I wanted to spend more time writing and making the show, and the theme became something slightly different to my initial concept.  But I did really enjoy running the show, and always appreciate the spoken word community at EdFringe greatly.  It’s always a learning curve, and never take for granted what it means to be part of that world.  I did manage to get some new poems out of the show which have stood the test of time, namely I’m Sorry I Missed Your Gig and Discount Tescos Bunting, the latter now on YouTube.  Will Up The Nerd Punks 3 make an appearance in 2017?  Stay tuned, true believers…

The year began with Hull Truck Youth Theatre putting on my adaptation of Kafka’s The Castle, which I won’t lie:  was a tricky creature to pin down.  As I’m sure any Kafka fan will confer.  But I’m really proud of the final piece, and the production was a great tangled ensemble of characters and I think a modern day (and troubling perspective) on work.  I directed a Play In A Week for the Lawrence Batly Theatre, one based around conscientious objectors of WW1 and the other wizards and spells (slightly different themes I'll admit...). I also wrote a short adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes for Harrogate Youth Theatre, but mainly I’m proud to have been doing more facilitation in general for Lawrence Batley Youth Theatre, Harrogate Theatre and York Theatre Royal and worked with their Youth Theatre groups.  Thanks everyone x

I kicked off 2016 by putting on an all-dayer of bands for MooseFest.  We did one more Moose gig with Captain Chaos before my parenter-in-gigs ducked out to focus on work.  So I’ve been doing more gigs as Pewter Promotions with feminist queer indie-punk, like Colour Me Wednesday, Ay Carmela, The Tuts, Fairweather Band, Jesus & His Judgemental Father and Jake & The Jellyfish and a whole number of ace supports.  It's important for me to learn about gig promotion and Doing It Right, and not overloading myself.  But what I think is essential is I put on bands I want to see, else it becomes a favour, not a fun experience.  Thanks everyone x

I decided at the start of the year I would write loads of new poems.  That didn’t quite happen how I’d like.  I have this constantly worry I need ‘this kind of poem’.  The funny one to open with.  The anti-racist one.  The one that changes everyone’s minds.  But I have written some poems for Up The Nerd Punks 2 which are now part of my set, and have been working on some in the lying light for December.  I think it’s not always useful to assume you’ll write loads of new stuff just because you say you’ll write a load of new stuff.  So before I go to bed I’ve been writing for 1-2 mins at least.  Just scribbles.  Thoughts.  We’ll see what 2017 holds.

My band put out an EP!  I performed started scratching a new show for 2017!  I spoke at the Art of Punk Conference at the University of Northampton!  I spoke at the Third Angel Symposium at Leeds!  We continued making monthly nerdy quizzes and it's been a mega fun time, I assure you!  Thanks everyone x

I've also been pretty down at times, filled with the usual anxiety and General Blues of 21st century life.  But thanks for all my friends who stick with me, and I'm sorry to those I don't give enough time to, or have let down.

Thanks everyone x Sorry everyone x

Love, solidarity and rage x

Sunday, 11 December 2016

20.16 Blog #29: National Anti-Slam

Dear Sir and/or Madam.

Further to my previous correspondence dated 1st May 2016 (viewablefor your achievable achieve here) I have been strongly encouraged by my outrage to send this further correspondence.

Imagine my horror upon taking a short visit to That London and taking a stroll through gentrified Hackney and visiting the Picturehouses, I, once again, was forced into a context whereupon I was viewing an ANTI-SLAM in a Picturehouse!  Not just any old run-of-the-mill Anti-Slam but the NATIONAL ANTI-SLAM FINAL.

I was outraged like a shinbone being wafted in the desert
I was disgusted like a hedgehog headbutting A mollusc
I WAS maddened LIKE a stovepipe at closing time
I was fuming like Rome ON a Tuesday

I was quite literally angry.

The pretence of Edinburgh’s Doug Gary proved, once again, that once more performance poetry is, as it once was, a once-and-future thing of pretentiousness.

London’s Camilla made me disgusted to my very core, my core was well and truly rumbled and rubbed and was quite literally pumped with terror and disgust and other emotions far too smutty for the Internet.

I rather felt the Sheffield’s Starr Quality Theatre School™ representative was far too young and working class for a poetry event.  In addition (or, moreover) the reprehensive from Cambridge (Miss Spinning Jenny) was a poor imitation of Working Class Northern Life, and I should know, I’ve seen Kes.

Clearly Ms. Joy France, is clearly an example of what happens when lovely ladies are inclined (or, forced?) to visit Manchester.  The York poet Monica Offlebaum used a large amount of cultural appropriation, a term I do not fully understand but am willing to employ in my review.  Vera 100% Chinese's poetry was...

Sorry, got interuptted.

Now, where was I?  As a Normal Person I neither use, nor like, Twitter and the Edinburgh Fringe duo (American, thus proving the sort of place Edinburgh becomes in August) known as #HashTag@TeamTrending were rather loud but did make some effective political points.

Newcastle’s Viking No Name was neither a Viking, nor unnamed.  They resembled a mime, alas they used words.

However, as a chaffinch enthusiast, I was highly impressed with J. Arthur ProofRock’s deep interpretation was deeply stirring and a fine winner.  I wish him well in whatever body shapes he goes onto in the future.

The Judges were quite visibly referred to as a Jury interchangeable, never once stepping up to clatter down the hammer and put an end to this horror.  No, more they seemed to love the lack of love.

I will admit hosts Dan Simpson and Paula Varjack were admirably bearded.

I do rather hope this never returns to my hope town of York City FC and I do sincerely hope that poetry can do so much betterer.

Yours sincerely

A. T. Slam

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

20.16 Blog #28: Albums of 2016

Henry’s albums of the year

So 2016 has been and is almost gone, and as usual I have a number of albums and EPs spinning on my antique 2009 iPod.  In fact, quite a lot.  Thematically, the majority are indie-pop/punk with a strong queer undercurrent.  I think this reflects the gigs and scenes I’ve been hanging out with.  

Sometimes you might assume the indie-pop/punk tunes below are descendents of the landfill indie of the late 00s.  These were mostly laddish bands doing anthemtic choruses, this new wave are more inclusive, political, DIY and lyrically inventive.

Something I love about following a band is how their catalogue of music expands.  A couple of years ago, all I had were 3 Petrol Girls songs that spun around on my repeat in my ear.  2015 I managed to put them on not once, but twice.  Now 2016 bequeathed us the Some Thing EP and their debut album Talk of Violence and I am consistently inspired by the band’s commitment to inter-sectionality.  Positioned as a feminist post-hardcore band, Petrol Girls also champion LBGTQ+ and refugee/immigration causes.  The album itself feels beautifully raw and captures their live performance, but for me whenever I listen to it I am reminded there’s a world of activism out there that isn’t going to get restful anytime soon.

Martha’s debut album was easily my favourite album of 2014, and probably one of my favourite bands.  Initially this album felt a little less raw than their first, but over time I realised instead of offered a more playful introspective approach to song-writing that probably make better earworms in the long run.  The album is a little more funky, a little more pop, a little funnier and friendlier than their s/t album, and the jangly upbeat tempo makes me return to the ‘M’ section of my iPod.  There's a lot of intelligent lyrics, well-crafted song-structure and a variety of tempos that it makes the album feel very special and so easy to listen to over and over and always discover something fun or unique in each song.  It always makes me re-think lyrics as poetry and stories but still with a punk and pop edge.

A band I’d heard a lot about, the album can feel incredibly smooth with a recurring undercurrent of politics, feminism, home, family and has a real strength that, if I’m honest, surprised me.  The band manage to capture a great turn of phrase, hook and definitely feels like a full repeatable album than a handful of catchy songs.  The band’s lyrics have real story-telling potential and Lande’s vocals draw you in alongside the music.  This was a toss-up between Happy Accident’s album (see below) simply because genre and scene-wise they share a lot, but I think I’m going for Muncie Girls because I already knew I was a big Happy Accidents fan thanks to their earlier furious madcap high energy EP (and their debut album is just as pumped), but this album was a refreshing discovery.

To lump all these albums together is a CRIME, especially as they all have their own unique charm.  Colour Me Wednesday’s EP is another slice of their clever pop lyricism, Ay Carmela treads the line nicely between heartfelt story-telling and sharp punk, The Tuts’ Update Your Brain is pretty much the perfect vehicle for their engaging and finely crafted live performance and Daniel Versus The World’s queer piano-punk music is as sad as it is angry, as powerful as it is delicate.  However the recurring themes of queer identity, feminism, friendship, home, DIY, anger and love, individuality and community have made the Dovetown collective mainstays of my listening life (and this way I get to include all them in my top 5).  Also, the fact the collective all play in each other's bands, and are essentially a family, means I hope they don't mind rocking up as single supportive gang as they so often do at gigs.

This album sneaks into the top 5, not because it’s not been well-played on my iPod but because actually I’m not as into ska-punk as I once was back in t’day.  But I will always return to SB6 as a band that excite me.  Not your run-of-the-mill ska-punk fusion, this album packs all the playfulness with rap and electronic music to keep apace of the scene.  Whilst the fury of out-and-out political lyrics might be the SB6 of the past, what the band still do incredibly well is tell stories of (usually female) characters, and has a direct message to stand up for yourself as a person, an individual, as power in your own right.  They have a great commitment to making something fresh, and in a world of indie-pop I was grateful, and excited by, these bangers.

Notable mentions:  Happy Accidents (You Might Be Right), Pok√©mon Liberation Army (TM101), OPS (Sluice Around), Chris T-T (9 Green Songs), The Julie Ruin (Hit Reset), The Fairweather Band (Meow), Harry & Chris (Simple Times)

Shout outs to:  Viva Zapata (Fuck It, It’ll Be Fine), The Potentials (We Are The Potentials), Doe (Some Things Last Longer Than You), KINKY (Sissy Mosh), Skull Puppies (Endless Dungeon Crawl), Camp Shy (Camp Shy), ROMP (Departure From Venus), The Coathangers (Nosebleed Weekend), Savages (Adore Life), Dream Nails (DIY), Tough Tits (Hairless), Austeros (Painted Blue), Pup (The Dream Is Over), Syslak (Syslak EP), Shit Present (Misery + Disaster), Dan Kemp (Holding Down)

Also my band made an EP.  Pewter City Punks (Glass Type EP)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

20.16 Blog #27: Art of Punk Talk

Below is the talk I gave for the Art Of Punk symposium on 25th Nov at Northampton University

Leeds Town Hall, packed with pupils from across all Yorkshire to attend the GSCE poetry live event, featuring some of the greatest poets the establishment deems worth of being on the English syllabus.  Towards the end of the day, a rake-thin figure makes his way onto stage, hair a frothy mess, eyes hidden behind deep black shades.  He holds up a glass of water and bemoans in a thick Salford accent:  “I wanted a whiskey, but they gave me a water.  Why would you want to drink something fish screw in”.  The assemblance of pupils is amused, perhaps bemused.  He proceeds to read I Married A Monster From Outer Space.  He is, of course, John Cooper Clarke and in the audience is a young Henry Raby, on a day out from Oakland Secondary School for a taste of live poetry.

I grew up in an era dominated by American pop-punk, the Blink-182s, the Offspring and Green Day.  These bands never appealed to me, it was only when I was 16 and bought a copy of Never Mind The Bollocks from a car boot sale did I find a joy for punk rock music.

I come from a theatre background, arguably the most punk rock theatre sector:  The Youth Theatre sector.  And in the amphitheatre of the Big Youth Theatre Festival, surrounded by other young people from across the UK I rambled out my first poem which began with the phrase ‘I’m A Post-Nietzsche Creature’, a direct reference to Cooper Clarke’s line in Post-War Glamour Girls.

From then on, I identified as a ‘punk poet’ by virtue of the fact I liked punk, and I did poetry.



1.  Does punk poetry come influenced by the dominant music we associate with that term?
2.  Does the virtue of being a punk make your poetry automatically punk, can a punk write non-punk poetry?
3.  What are the literary qualities of the genre, in other words, what the fuck is Punk Poetry?

I upset a fellow in my friends’s band, by saying his other band were not punk, or to be specific, not folk-punk.  They played folk, acoustic rock, bluesy music, but it wasn’t folk.  It was DIY (which we’ll get to later) but it was not punk.  Maybe punk-y.
I’m going to start by saying punk is not a music genre, but it is a genre.
Punk is defined by three things:
Anti-authority, to the point of questioning the world
Anti-commodity, to the point of being DIY
The 1960s were about free love, progression, liberation and freedom.  Peace, man.
So punk celebrated the death of this redundant idea, this fakeness, this lie.
I wanna destroy passer-by, I wanna be sedated, hate & war, I am a poser, love will tear us apart etc.
Now, that’s fine for punk rock music to play with this disgusting behaviour, but poetry is something different.  Poetry is meant to be beautiful,
And punk poetry acts acts came in a wave.  The Medway Poets, Mark Mi Murduz and John Cooper Clarke and Seething Wells and Porky The Poet.  You could catch stand-up comics, and ranters and jugglers and theatre-makers amongst the bands.
So how do we define punk poetry?
Let’s look at anti-authority:
God Save The Queen, She Ain’t No Human Being.
Punk certainly has a healthy distrust for power structures, which is why with a few examples, it usually hovers towards the anarchist wing of politics.  Even the punx (with an x) who enjoy a good few cans of cider and listen to The Casualties with a handy pot of glue hate the authority that would stop them getting smashed, even if by their own admission “politics is bullshit, fucks communists blah blah blah”.  They just wanna do what they wanna do.
And punk poetry is the same that it defines the structures of publishing.
Let’s look at examples of punk poetry from the 1970s and 80s.  Joolz Denby, Bradford-born-and-based poet always found it difficult to get published, or rather publishers found it difficult to deal with her and her frankness.  Attila the Stockbroker regularly rails against the intuitions of bankers, bosses and businesses.  And fascists.  A committed Marxist.  His poetry has always been taking power.
Of course, this politicised life has not been without threat, Joolz talks about being attacked for the way she dressed and acted by men disgusted by her individualism, and Attila about being targeted by the far right.
More modern punk poets include Pete The Temp, who has dedicated his life to supporting squatting activism, and more recently occupations.  Pete comes across as a gentle soul but has been dedicated to rethinking and reclaiming space in an increasingly gentrified London.  Jenn Hart is committed to supporting feminist causes, putting on feminist gigs and acts and writing intense poetry about modern women’s issues.
Here are three chords, now start a band
Punk rock and DIY are not synonymous, but they are often on the same bill DIY.  Metal, Goth, Hip-Hop, cosplay, computer gaming, comic book publishing all have these elements of DIY
I define DIY as making art using whatever materials you have to hand in the most low-fi manner, which can also mean cheapest, way possible to reject capitalist and commodification of that framework.  Very different to entrepeunirliamism, which uses materials to hand but for the end result to actually make money and work within a capitalist framework.
Some bands and promoters come to DIY by necessity, with the lack of support from mainstream promoters or structures, but others choose the DIY life in order to reject a world of money-making.
Punk poetry often employs this form of DIY through the publishing of zines, current zine Paper & Ink and excellent example by Martin Appleby down in Brighton or Zach Roddis who made his own cassettes and poetry books.  Poetry zines can be traced to riot grrrl scenes linked to person zines (perzines).  No one else with publish your work due to your gender, sexuality, race or content of the work (or at least, without editing) so stay the master of your work.
So punk poetry isn’t waiting for publishers to respond, waiting for those deals to come to you.  It’s neither about waiting for gigs, it’s making them happen yourself.  It’s putting on poetry gigs in pubs and small spaces.  We’re putting on Harry Baker in a Church next week.  Rethinking space is increasingly harder, but also increasingly more necessary.
But wait Henry.  This all sounds very familiar.
Political poetry that challenging structures and hierarchies is not unusual.  Look at Adrian Mitchell in the decade before.  Certainly poets from Black communities, like Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zepahniah have always been critical of racist institutions.  Modern black poets, like Inua Ellams and Vanessa Kisuule also tell their own stories.  Jess Green went viral for her attack on Gove, Hollie McNish’s mathematics was a nice summery of the problems with racism, Kate Tempest has been looking at the underside of society, Sophia Walker and Jackie Hagan have told their stories of being queer.
Poets regularly make their own zines and booklets, regularly make event happen on a shoestring.  Kirsten Luckins from Apples & Snakes talks about the ecology of spoken word, like it’s a nature reserve and we artists are the wildlife.
So it’s not just punk poets challenging mainstream thoughts and right-wing politics.
It’s not just punk poets being DIY, either.
So maybe there’s something in the ugliness.
(note ugly =/= not sexy.  Punk can be very sexy, and ugly, at the same time)
Ugly.  Messy.  Weird.  Raw.  Flawed. Homely.  Home.
From the sound effects of vomit on Chumawbawamba tracks, skinheads tattooing their faces to Poly Styrene shaving off her hair and the gobbing.  Lemmy’s looks, the mud the Slits caked themselves in, Joe Strummer’s missing teeth, Johnny Rotten’s Richard III crawl.  Even the word has a root meaning in being worthless.  Make my day, punk.
In commedia del arte, we see the figure of the harlequin, the trickster, who is allowed to get away with mischief.  This character exists today in the gender-blurring lines of the Panto Dame.
Look at Rick Mayall’s character of Rik, and his stand-up where he faffs, sneers and gushes from his greasy face.  He’s parodying a punk poet, he’s subverting subversion.
I would argue punk poetry’s recurring theme is a sense of the ugly, the bizarre, the strange, the dirty.  Whether that’s in the form and the verse, or the topic.
Punk is everywhere under the surface.  It’s in the poetry gigs in pubs and in the politics and in the publishing.  We built that network, and we kept it alive, we united with other genres and scenes.
But punk is when you get sweaty, when your voice is hoarse, when you’re nodding vigorously.  When you feel alive.
So that’s why I’m trying to do nowadays.  Bring the poets to perform at the punk gigs, bring the punk energy to the poetry gigs.  Which is why I run slams.  I want to drag the punk element into spoken word and make it vibrant and noisy and messy.  Similarly, I always try and get a poet to Say Some Words before punk bands to get them out of the comfort zone, introduce new audiences to poetry and also up the ante for the context of poetry.

And that is the role of punks in poetry and punk poetry.  To be the subversive voice inside existing scenes, to keep playing, agitating and twisting.  Being ugly.