Saturday, 26 January 2008

Poetry Performance and the Tale of the Green Cock




I have just returned to the hacienda from a Performance Poetry Workshop, with Luke Wright which was really enjoyable. I sat gob smacked and awed at the sheer speed and memory of Luke as he performed some of his work at the start of the workshop The workshop gave me a chance to loosen up and get down with the performance artists. I've watched John Cooper Clark live a few times in the past and came out reeling, slightly as if I had been punched in the head maybe, but in a cool sort of way......See, note the use of getting down and cool, I am already trying to sound like a rapper from a minor public school with no idea of what I am talking about but hoping frantically that throwing in a few words of street lingo ( sadly at least two decades out of date) will get me some street cred( there I go again). However I did realise that I am best doing what I do but using the method/plan we were shown was remarkably similar to how one could approach writing any poem ; if you put enough thought, energy, images and good words into one end of the machine something interesting and useable can pop out the other. Watch the rhythm. the narrative arc of it, the voice and point of view and have a sense of where you are going even if you allow yourself to be surprised by what comes out of the flow and energy of the first draft.

I am always awed by people who perform their poems without the paper in front of them. I need my paper, I don't trust my menopausal memory despite the extra ginko bilboa and ginseng I now take. I wrote it and probably do know it but there's that risk, that jump from the aeroplane and free fall that actors and performance artists are willing to take every time they go up on stage. Of course they work hard on technique, they check and re-check, pack their own parachutes but essentially they are willing to jump and trust in their synaptic pathways to conjure up the words, in the right place and in the right order whilst the adrenalin of being in front of an audience pumps through their body at something resembling the speed of gravity and they believe in their ability to avoid crashing into the dust of dry-up. Perhaps I am too old, probably too fearful, too controlling to risk not being totally in control, just a big wuss about sums it up.

Afterwards I went to Nandos for a coffee with another workshopee or should I really say, fellow workshopper. The former sounds too passive and victimised ,the latter too aggressively retail. This restaurant and bar is in the souless square of the pleasure dome ( without the dome) where the workshop took place.

There was a poor underpaid, harassed foreign man working at the counter, "You have your cock?"
'Pardon?'
"We have to have your cock to serve you."
'Pardon?'
"We get your number from your cock."
'Pardon?'
"Your cock, it is green and on your table."
'Sorry no green cock on our table'
"Someone should have given you cock when you come in."
'I want a tea, a large cappuccino and two custard tarts please.'
"You no understand not without cock."

I had a very Sid James, 'Carry On up the Double Entendre' moment but, strangely, a split second after the whole conversation. At the time the absence of the green cock was simply that. I wondered in fact whether this was a game the waiters in the restaurant played with customers to liven up their day. 'Who can get cock into the conversation with a customer the most' wins a free dinner. Looking at the waiter I do think he and I had a genuine conversation about the cock. I am now wondering whether if I put this word in the Label and title of the blog my hit rate will rise as a result of what people may choose to Google on a bleak wet Saturday night !

1 comment:

Mrs Slocombe said...

too too funny, and I speak as a Carry On maven: my blog was called Mrs Slocombe's Pussy until I googled it and was boggled......