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Up The Nerd Punks 2 at EdFringe 16.15-17.15 @ Opium

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.

PETROL GIRLS:  TALK OF VIOLENCE
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:  BLISTERS IN THE PIT OF MY HEART
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.



MUNCIE GIRLS:  FROM CAPLAN TO BELIZE
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.


Lovetown for the Dovetown (DANIEL VERSUS THE WORLD, AY CARMELA, COLOUR ME WEDNESDAY, THE TUTS)
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.



SONIC BOOM SIX:  THE F-BOMB
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.

Thanks:

BUT WAIT

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
Ugly.
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.

20.16 Blog #26: Third Angel Talk

Below is a draft of the talk I gave at Third Angel's Where From Here Symposium 17th November at Leeds Beckett University.  I didn't really read this word-for-word, but hopefully got across the idea.  Third Angel are a 21-year-old Theatre Company making autobiogrpahical word that plays with text, stories, truth and space.

Strawbs Bar 2007.  Probably a kind of chill northerly breeze.  Young Henry, keen to be at University after a Gap Year of mainly working at Virgin Megastores and reading Harold Pinter.

Straws Bar.  Giant cushions in the shape of Strawberries hang upon the walls.  Bannister coated in too many layers of white paint.  Creaky floorboards.  Here, a Young Henry, keen to be at University after a Gap Year of mainly seeing his mates go off to University and attending very safe unenthusing poetry nights, gets up to read at Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones, the brainchild of Andy Craven-Griffiths and Adam Robinson, cohorts in poetry and words, a mixture of hip-hop background and literary story-telling.  Bringing poets from across the UK who are the best of the best of a bulging scene before the Scroobius Pips, kate Tempests, Hollie McNishs and Mark Grists did wonders for viral videos.

Young Henry Raby, totally forgets all his poems and ends up sticking Andy’s banana in his pocket.
I stopped trying to be John Cooper Clarke, and like all students, tried to work out who I was at University.  I seemed to me, in the depths of those times, that everyone else at University was doing incredibly well at being a well-adjusted, popular person while I stumbled around.  But I think, and only realise this now, that the best friendship circles I found where at those Strawbs nights.

So at University I developed a kind of personality in 3rd year as being some raving anarchist because I was against cuts to the University.  In the left-wing circles at the Uni, UI was a incredibly liberal lad circling around Worker’s Liberty, SWP, SP and the Anarchists trying to make sure everybody all got along.
And as part of 3rd year English & Theatre Studies, we saw Third Angels’ Words + Pictures.  What intrigued me was the autobiographical stripped down approach to theatre compared to other works we had been seeing at the Lowry and West Yorkshire Playhouse.  Also, I’m pretty certain it had Games Workshop references.

“You’re nothing like you are onstage” is something often said to me in the Real World.  On stage, all improvised asides and audience interactive banter, well rehearsed poems and necessary energy required to make the event memorable.

In The Real World, allergic to eye contact, apologetic, fiddly.

I find the world of poetry open mics and slams, the audience recognise truth.  Or that is to say, they recognise bullshit.  Vanessa Kisuule said of our recent slam it was her fav for years because everyone was being themselves.  In London, everyone is (apparently) trying to be the next Big Thing.

Hi, I’m a human being, here’s my story or opinion to share with you fellow human beings.  Thanks.
But it’s a lie!  A goddamn lie!

Because the more we incorporate elements of stand-up, of theatre and character, elements of story-telling, of being the bardic clown, we are blurring what is truth.  We can play with it, make it a performance, even fake it.

If you own the stage, if you are in control as the story-teller, as Third Angel’s work often is, the audience place faith in you, they believe in you, they are prepared to trust you.  They recognise agendas, perhaps they might not always believe a stand-up comic, but there is something very Perfect about poetry.  Unless it’s of the whacky sort, it feels raw and honest.

There’s also the problem if you’re going to get political, like any great public speaking…

So does Henry Raby the performer have a fake quality to him, a constructed confidence which leaves me wondering if I’m being honest to my genre.

In this book on D.I.Y. a lot of the authors are very very good but they’re all talking about the idea of DIY.  Third Angels’ entry is saying, look, don’t worry too much about the ideas.  BEWARE THE SOFA is their motto.  Beware getting stuck sat down over-thinking, discussing, debating, analysing.  Just make something.  Just crack on and do something.  This is one of the unwritten rules of running Youth Theatre sessions (yes there is also YT Facilitator Henry) is you need to get those teenagers on their feet!

So what I take away from Third Angel is their playfulness with autobography and truth, their blurred lines of audience/performer and also their readniess which will hopefully be a boon in the uncertain world of 2017.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

20.16 Blog #25: Election Special

So all term there’s been a little spectre that has been lurking beneath the surface of every Youth Theatre session I’ve run this year between Harrogate Youth Theatre and York Youth Theatre, getting stronger and stronger as we entered this recent term.  Like a force that imposes itself in the corner of your eye, this power has grown from a casual aside to almost dominating some games and exercises.  The Spectre of the American Election.

Or, to be frank, mostly Donald Trump as a figure the young people go to as a boogieman who wants to build walls and dominate situations.  Often, he ends up being assassinated in the scenes.

I believe that Youth Theatre should unpack current issues through the use of drama, and so to the best of my ability I wanted to explore what people in power do to stay in power, or get more of it.

The session with my 16+ group was like a role-playing adventure.  Each person had randomly assigned traits (such as a keen gardener, happily married, born in another country, owns a football club, history with the military, holds a Doctorate in Sciences) and a single Secret Objective (put Arts in the spotlight, make sure you are the Leader, put your country on the world stage).  Then the group did some character work to embody the character, we allowed 3 leaders to bring together 3 parties, put one group in ‘power) have them a table, pens, paper and water) and the others stuffed into the corners.

We presented the group with issues, which they had 2-5 minutes to decide who would issue a statement, and what this could contain.  We gave them Marches for Workers Rights, Oil Spills and Remembrance Day.  Instantly they all fought to make the most worthy statement, creating promises, raising concerns and trying to outdo the other parties.  We raised the stakes on a refugee crisis, and added in question time elements.  We allowed them to join other parties and when they made decisions, brought those back to bite them.

But we also tried to keep it fun.  Fergus who works with me was the singular voter of this created country, and read out some invented Polls as the ‘Every Man’.  We also gave 3 bits of breaking news bitingly reflective of our current leader’s misgiving (an indecent act with a balloon, caught in riots fighting police for worker’s rights and finally called the French “cheese eating surrender monkeys”).

What we found was these young people are all pretty liberally-minded, and all groups broadly agreed on centrist issues, such as raising wages, welcoming refugees and not escalating any conflicts.  What was fun was not the decisions they made, but how they presented their decisions, how they wrangled for their own angle and spotlight.

This was an exercise in drama, each character had an agenda just like any complex play, everyone is after something with their intentions and back-story filtering into the current action.  It also meant decisions made in ‘act 1’ affected events later in the ‘play’ (for instance in an example of one-up-man-ship one group renamed a stadium they owned ‘Poppy Stadium’ for Remembrance Day, only for us to claim that Nationalists had used it as a symbol of anti-refugee sentiment).  And, finally, it was a theatre lesson in how devising can work making an immersive world, playing as character for longer than just a short snippet.

But in terms of understanding elections and parties, the very intelligent group had a keen sense of the language of politicians.  There was a sense that good-must-be-done, as none of them attempted to really manage with their positions of power, but at the same time status became central to their decision-making and policies.  I think although we positioned this workshop as a ‘game’, it was inevitable that they different parties would relish in trying to manoeuvre within the game, a small scale version of the larger was parties interact with one another.

But a shout-out must go to the members of York Youth Theatre who threw themselves into the political frame with gusto and, without such commitment, the game would not have worked so well, or given everyone such enjoyment.

Of course this was an experiment, and one I’d like to try again.  We took some feedback from the group, and no doubt next week in evaluation we’ll hear more ideas for making the exercised work.


If you have any thoughts, or want a copy of the workshop plan, or even want me to visit your Youth Theatre group (or even adult drama group) to give it a try, drop me a line henrythepoet@btinternet.com

Thursday, 10 November 2016

2016 Blog #24: I hereby place a curse...

This week I took the curse spoken by Rooster Bryon at the end of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem and used it with no less than 4 Youth Theatre groups across this week.  Theyw rote their own curses in group, some fun, some sinister, all very inventive.  Here’s just some examples I salvaged from the workshop floor for posterity:

We are now placing a curse on Christmas haters
Your nose will never stop running
You can only wear shorts in winter
And may Asda forever be sold out of root beer
Your life will be a never-ending assembly
Popadoms will never be there for you
And Curry stores won’t serve you.
Your blood will run as a cold as a frozen bagel
And this curse will never end

We curse you Michael Gove
You have ruined our future
You have increased stress and failure
You have decreased content and success
You have confused, upset and bewildered our generation
We curse you and your soul forever more
We pray you suffer and therefore see our suffering
We curse you with the power of algebra to never be able to find the value of X
We curse you with compassion and manners (you have none)
We curse you with not being able to use nouns and verbs correctly
and not be able to string a sentence together
With all our power, we curse you to have to tell the truth and not be able to use fake statistics
Not to be respected by your peers
The greatest curse of all:  To do every exam that you have just enforced upon us
Don’t underestimate our power!
This curse lasts forever!

We curse you Donald J Trump
May your hair forever look like a guinea pig
May you constsantly be wrestled by protesdtors
May the Whitehouse be replaced by a shed
May the 4 year term by shortened to 4 minutes
May you have mind-blanks’ in all your speeches
May you fall in love with a Mexican
May you be trapped in your wall for the rest of your life
May you discover that Hilary Clinton is your long-lost cousin



I curse thy phone to smash
I curse thy to miss the bus every time and watch it drive away
I curse thy wretched body to always have acne
And they favourite series will carry on going until it is rubbish and have no life anymore.
May thy never enter TopShop or purchase an iPhone
May thee never be able to fill in thy eyebrows
Your instagram will have baby photos for all to see
All your friends on Facebook will leave you
You shall get 2000 dislikes on YouTube

Nobody will reply to your Tweets


Friday, 21 October 2016

20.16 Blog #23: Ken Loach & Hope

This afternoon, I watched the squatters occupying the old BHS building be evicted by bailiffs and police.  They piled plants and possessions onto bikes, said thanks to Subway opposite their temporary home (for free cookies I believe) and headed off.  Seems advertising their anti-Phillip Green party to be held at the old BHS building had encouraged the owners to push through an eviction sooner rather than later.  I got home and listened to the Autonomads, a Manchester ska/punk/dub/folk band who sing about security guards at the Job Centre and exposing the systematic cyanide of signing on.

In between these events, I went to see I, Daniel Blake.

I have loved Ken Loach since Film Studies at York College back in t’day.  At a time when I was discovering real-world politics, his films presented real-world humans.  3-dimensional, honest, believable and human, this form of British kitchen sink drama felt so touchable to accompany a need to grow up swiftly to exist within my new post-school world.

The last Loach film I saw in the cinema was Looking For Eric, and although I enjoyed The Angel’s Share, I can’t say either are my favourite.  But throughout Loach’s work is a real sense that working class people are good, decent and friendly.  He’s a myth-buster.  From Riff-Raff to My Name is Joe to the heavily polarised worlds of Bread & Roses and Land & Freedom, his working class characters are there to support one another.  Sweet Sixteen maybe is an exception, which is why is makes that film so powerful in its sheer hopelessness (but that’s just my reading).  At least with I, Daniel Blake he could rely on his neighbours, co-workers and the friendliness of strangers at the Library.  It’s not much, but it’s something.

I Daniel Blake is an old story now, one of benefit sanctions, ATOS and job seekers’ which still exists, but is sliding off the agenda of the right-wing tabloids who have now turned their sights to target refugees and immigrants in the wake of the EU referendum result.  If anything, they have shifted the zeitgeist us vs. them mentality now (peddled by the Tories) from “scroungers” and the disabled to “foreigners”.  The film ends with Daniel Blake declaring his is a citizen, no more, no less, and yet Mrs May might well ask Mr Blake, were she ever to walk amongst the people of Newcastle, “a citizen of where?”

There are a number of powerful moments peppering the film, and I cried so many times I lost count.  But one moment that has stuck with me is when the young child, Daisy, visits Dan who is refusing her help.  She insists.  She says, “If you helped us, why can’t I help you?”

With a handful of exceptions, Loach’s films show humans helping humans.  Yes, there are humans hurting humans too.  I often quote folk-punk band ONSIND, and one song states:  True hope resides in that moment where a person holds their hand out to a stranger on the ground.

There is despair, darkness, sadness and blood in Loach’s films.  There are tears, fists and poverty that grinds into your guts.  But there is also friendship, family and community.  There is solidarity between people and therein lies the hope at the centre of Loach’s films, like glinting treasure in the mud of an ocean floor.

And this, dear reader, is why I want to write hopeful poetry.  Angry, bitter and loud.  But hopeful.


I will not allow myself to be destroyed by these betrayals / I won’t ever let these bastards grind me down. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

20.16 Blog #22: The Power of The Podcast

The first Podcast I started listening to was Wittertainment (aka the 5 Live Film Show) off the back of seeing Mark Kermode (ol’ Marky K as I call him for some unanswerable injokey reason) on various programmes, hands a’flappin’, films a’reviewing.

Like Mark loves his horror films and Simon likes his various voice-led personalities, when I get into something I become something of a collector.  So in the past year I’ve been scouring new cool unique and odd podcasts for my Generic Fruit Based Device.

My top ones at the moment are Imaginary Advice by Ross Sutherland, which is a collection of strange stories, spoken word pieces, anecdotes and experiments in language.  Whilst spoken word is becoming snappier to fit the model of 3 minutes slam and viral videos, Ross is playing with stories well over 10 minutes.  For a (massive) punk rocker such as myself, it’s a super break from punchy pieces.  Six House Parties is incredible.

There’s No Such Thing As A Fish is probably one of the better known podcasts, run by the QI Elves, it’s like an episode of the panel show but without comedians vying to be the funniest in the spotlight like bears clawing for a chucked fish.  Rather, it’s like mates chatting and sharing strange, curious and unbelievable facts which give good fodder for future poems, stories, play and conversations.

Podcasts have become something of a zine-like culture.  Zines are for people to put a little bit of themselves into writing and images, bound together with staples, glue and oodles of love.  I guess a blog has similar qualities.

I’ve found the Podcast has the same DIYness.  The best podcasts are the incredible specific ones, the ones that have a fanbase dedicated but on the otherside of mainstream, underground, cornered, familiar to those who also explore the same caverns.

Batman The Animated Podcast, to me, sums up what a podcast should be.  Very specific, very nerdy, very honest to the podcastee, Justin Michael, talking about his childhood and love for the Animated 90s cartoon.  But I’ve never been a big fan of perzines (personal zines).  I love people telling their story, but some can be a wee bit self-indulgent.  But BTAP also talks about the history and use of animation, casting, writing, acting, sound, lighting and all those processes.  It’s a fascinating insight and everything I want from a Batman-themed medium.

So this year I’ve been making podcasts with the night I run, Say Owt Slam.  Some have been edited by Odd Horizon, some I put together myself.  I spent a long time playing with audacity, downloading the right fomas, playing with editing, uploading and re-uploading.  I can honestly say the Say Owt Podcast is very DIY, despite using the Evil Eye-of-Sauron-like iTunes platform.



#1: Sophia Walker & Adele Hampton 
#2: Dan Simpson 
#3: Jack Dean 
#4: Dave Jarman 
#5: Rose Condo 
#6: Scott Tyrrell 

Thanks to listening to Desert Island Discs, I think my interview style has progressed over the course of the podcasts.  I think we got better at nailing topics, as well as having fun.  I think the one we did with Rose Condo really got to the heart of writing and the process of creating spoken word.  I can’t wait to continue the Podcast deep into 2017.

You can find Say Owt Podcast on iTunes.  Please listen, subscribe, download, share and any and all feedback hugely welcome.

Now I want to make a new podcast about Batman, though.

Henry


(p.s. Desert Island Zines sounds a great idea….)