I started using my iPhone as a voice recorder. The quality isn’t that great, but it’s good enough to get things down as you think of them and there are times when you just can’t find a pen and paper.
Doing stand-up poetry has shifted my brain into overdrive in some respects; it’s made me think about words a lot more. It’s also made me think about what poetry is and despite Google, I still don’t really know.
I always had problems with rhymes. When I first came to London I bought strange books. One of my first pay-packets got me Betjeman’s Summoned By Bells, which wasn’t his greatest stuff . Anything qualifying as that would have to include Invasion Exercises On A Chicken Farm. There’s a brilliant original recording on Spotify.
I used to hang around Motor Books, a small shop still down an alley off Haymarket, full of odd titles like Sniping Towards the Rhine and The Improvised Munitions Handbook, which they refused to sell me unless I could prove I was in the police or the Army, on Home Office orders, they claimed. I wasn’t, so I left empty-handed. And I still don’t know what poetry is.
Maybe it’s a song without music. I think it is.
Songs Without Music
Some people think that poetry
But there’s more
To words than that.
Just produces doggerel
Or worse; very often
You could hardly call it verse.
Poetry was something inaccessible
At school when your least
Favourite English teacher
Used to play the fool
And do his funny voice
For recitation, which bored
Almost an entire generation
At my school.
Poetry my dear,
Poetry simply wasn’t cool.
So I don’t call this poetry;
I call this music without songs
Or songs without music
And just hope it may amuse
If you’re in the right mood for it.
You see what I mean about rhymes?
Let’s get on. It’s getting late.
Besides, we’ve all got other things to do
Like drinking wine and reading poetry to you.