Many things annoy me: people who spit on the street, people who describe their work as ‘immersive’, the cast of Hollyoaks – but nothing bothers me more than spoken word.
I’ve always thought poems had to rhyme, that was until I was 15 and my youth club booked a couple of performance poets to entertain us for the evening. They did serious wordy rubbish about the sky. We gave them a hard time because for some reason when they performed they stopped talking posh and tried to sound like they were from our estate. Weird.
Poetry, sorry spoken word is rife with middle class folk trying to convince an audience they know what JSA is. The objectification of working class slang gives you credit and somehow validates your shitty poem about London or the recession.
Clearly I had some anger issues towards the world of rhyming words, but then at the grand age of 23 I shared a dressing room with John Cooper Clarke at a music festival. Now I could try to convince you I knew who he was and we hit it off but in the spirit of not pretending I smiled at him and ate his cheese platter. Later that day I watched him perform and my performance poetry baggage was left in a portacabin at Leeds Festival.I guess I hate any sort of performance that pretends to be something it isn’t – I feel the same way towards actors, I want to slap them round the face, tell them I know they are lying and their career is one big game of ‘let’s pretend’.
Since then I’ve discovered a world of non-poncey poetry and weirdly sort of fallen for it – I stumbled across artists like Polar Bear, Luke Wright and Ross Sutherland and I’d be lying if I didn’t confess my love/hate relationship for Pam Ayres but my beef with poetry voice remains.
At the start of the year (under the pretence of being an artist) I locked myself in my Mum’s attic to write some new material – I thought I’d write some gags, at the end of that week I left with 3 half written poems, a piece that can only be described as a dyslexic mess and a poem that has only two words “Cunt Nash”.
I began to trying to find an outlet for my new material but apparently self aware, half written, half baked, funny poems for drunk people, said in your own voice don’t have a home so I thought I’d invent one.
Fraff is my new (sort of monthly) poetry knees up. It’s a piss up for my non-poet showbiz mates to try out unheard material. One rule – no fucking poetry voice. If any of the acts start talking funny the audience have the right to throw scrunched up paper at them.
What do you call a poetry night that’s embarrassed by its peers? I opted for council slang in line with poetry’s glorification of my birth lingo. Fraff means to chat shit, which seems fitting because ultimately bad poetry is fraff, whilst the good stuff tells us the truth by fraffing.
Fraff is at RichMix on 12th September. The line up includes Bryony Kimmings, Hunt & Darton and Jonny Woo.