Poetry is one of those things I wish I read – and wrote – more of.
Since university, when I had the opportunity to study poetry in depth, to discuss and critique it with other people who understood it much better than me, my reading has tailed off.
I’ve bought poetry by some of the greats: Ginsberg, Neruda and the WW1 poet soldiers.
But I want to explore further and get to know the work of current poets, people who have something meaningful to say about the world we live in.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, poetry can be hard to read. The words on the page often don’t compare to the words when spoken out loud, the way the writer intended. And that’s especially true of poetry that was meant to be performed.
Last week I went along to a performance poetry event in the back room of a local vegetarian restaurant, on a freezing cold night just before the snow came. Organised by a poet friend from Apples and Snakes, the evening featured guitar drumming, the work of the Tees Women Poets and guest performer Louise Fazackerley.
The Wigan born performance poet was everything I’d been looking for.
With her broad accent, beautiful voice and expressive face, she captured the essence of life in a small northern town: the poverty, the people, their hopes and dreams. Her poems tell a story, sad but funny, each word perfectly chosen, the cadence of her voice mesmerising.
I took home a copy of her second album, Love is a Battlefield, which is about a soldier coming back from Afghanistan and how trauma and PTSD affect his relationships. It’s raw and moving, as Fazackerley said: “anti-war but pro-soldier.”
This is the kind of poetry I’d like to spend more time with. It’s meaningful and alive; it’s not a mishmash of words flat on a page.
Like modern art, sometimes I struggle to know if poetry is ‘good’. But there was no question here: it blew me away.