It made me angry. I’d never heard a poetry reading described as a “sales conference” before. I wasn’t sure if I was angry because of the detached coldness of the remark from the young poet or because things had changed without my knowing it – I’d got older.
The entire theatre circuit that supports new poets is built by people that believe in art for the people by the people. Here was a pouting fresh out of the box poet struck by his own “success” telling me that a poetry event was “like a sales conference”. Flip forward a few years to today. I’ve just got off the plane from Toronto and I’m at The Occupy The City camp by St Pauls in The City of London with the journalist and family friend Gary Younge.
Tents are erected on the forecourt of St Pauls like barnacles on the titanic. Tourists snap the revolution while old lefties mingle in new spirit. Then I hear a poet ring out. The crowd hushes. She’s anger personified. She flips metaphors and delivers her writ with razor wit. She’s flying by the seat of her rants – style over discontent – I’m transfixed and exhilarated. It’s breathtakingly brilliant. It’s Kate Tempest delivering her front lines on The Frontline. I should drag that other poet by his ear so he can hear how it should be done.