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Gremlins and molehills

My home is the stage, or so I thought. Nobody wants to hear me, besides, I’m not allowed to say what I think.

This was me, aged 21 after discovering that performance poetry was the one place where I couldn’t be shot down. The one place where I wasn’t being told that I wasn’t good enough. The one place I wasn’t compared to someone my family or peers knew. The only place where I could speak my mind and people had to listen.

The stage is my home, I don’t get nervous, I come alive when I’m centre stage. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Having written and rewritten my piece for Man Up, my confidence level was always around 8 – 10 on any given day in practice mode. I’ll be just fine for the shows, do what I gotta do.

Somehow the closer I got to the shows, an old gremlin spoke up and asked, “What if I mess up?” Fear of failure, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of letting others down had all shackled me for most of my years. Despite my confidence in my ability to deliver, it caused me to practice even harder right up to the last minutes before I was to step into the limelight.

Despite controlled recovery from a few stumbles, I beat myself up for the rest of the first show. I told myself it was awful, that my part was the weakest out of the solos. I told myself that the crowd didn’t want to hear me talk about race and masculinity, they came for the stories from people like them. They didn’t want someone to rhyme at them with all those hand motions. I told myself a lot of things. Somehow the rest of the cast didn’t see it like I did. They told me they saw me come alive, they heard my passion, they told me they had to remember to hold their applause.

I arrive at the mid-point of a series of performances, so far two nights, two sold-out shows. I was better this time, not perfect but better in the second show. Self-awareness can be destructive at times, yet with 3 shows to go, I realise the importance of embracing the bright. Take the microphone away from the gremlin and make your voice count in a good way.

I’ve got two shows in one evening before the final performance a day later. What matters most? The simple truth is my story is being heard in a way that only I can tell it. At some point I’ll tell it again without the production values, I might even give you the extended version. Simple truths about the best of what I’m doing matter more than amplifying minor faults. Knowing the mountains from molehills will take you far.

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Bucket Lists & Passions

Though for many it the season of Coca-Cola trucks, mistletoe and Mariah Carey on repeat. It has become a tradition for me to look back at the year then choose a new playlist of sorts for the next 12 months. The aim? To get used to the new or improved grooves ahead of schedule.

2015 has undoubtedly been categorised by the word “expansion”. While poetry has been a muscle exercised a little less this year, I have experienced joy in unexpected areas such as fitness and photography.  Having taken pictures like the one below (see more photos here), it seems I am stumbling into another of my father’s footsteps.

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This year, music has been a trumpeted passion that has somewhat overtaken my poetic inclinations.

Through my 8-month-old music review blog 7ish, I now know more about myself as a writer and the scale of knowledge required to grow during the next season.

Of the bucket list aspects of the year, a handful of concerts that encompassed two of my all-time influences namely Kirk Franklin and Talib Kweli means they can be ticked off. To see Saul Williams would complete the triumvirate of my creative bucket list.

As poetry is a muscle that must be exercised to be maintained, a greater output is on the cards.

Thanks for sticking with me

Adrian

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It’s been quiet.

Since posting my last piece “Clock watching” you may be forgiven for thinking I’d dropped off the face of the planet.

That said, I was in preparation for my 3rd assault on the poetry slam at the Audlem Music and arts festival which took place on May 21st. Like a boxer going to training camp before a fight, I too go into a period of hibernation. In this period where the focus is solely on the pieces that I would use for my rounds, the biggest battle was between those crafted with a strong metaphoric presence, and simpler content sprinkled with poetic elements. In the end I delivered 3 rounds of poetry that showcased my versatility as a writer and performer.

The internal battle raged despite choosing the 3 pieces early on, the temptation to chop and change my poems was hard to resist. At one point I had 5 poems with a further two as back up if nerves caused me to forget one. For once I stuck to the plan!

Although I found myself in a constant cycle of editing 2014’s “Flagged Offside”, a poem written for week 11 of the 52 week challenge, it was the highest scoring poem of the first round. In honesty, I thought it was my least creative piece of the 3 and might see me scrape through.  Maybe it was the perfectly timed action of ripping open my shirt to reveal a Manchester United jersey that swung it in my favour.

My 2nd round performance was of Clock Watching, a poem that hasn’t seen an open mic yet one that took me through as best runner – up. The best poem of that round belonged to a poet called Nick Lovell with his tightly written war tale. As classic spoken word rhyme patterns go – he had that round in his grasp. Nick eventually finished 3rd.

If you’ve seen me perform live then typically my poem Dear Caramel will make an appearance. This was left for the final round as I decided to trust my newer work and then bring it home with that one. Yet like Usain Bolt pulling up with a muscle injury with 5 metres to go, I knew I’d lost it when I stumbled at penultimate line.. I’d wanted to win so badly, though with this only being my 4th slam, I was encouraged by many that  being 2nd is an achievement that I should be proud of.

Legendary Liverpool Football club manager Bill Shankly talked of first being first and 2nd being nowhere. That is precisely how I felt for a few days after.. On reflection, losing by half a point, to “Spoz” a former poet laureate that I’ve known since 2004 when I was new to spoken word, is a “good” loss. He was flawless and that has to be applauded.

A slam victory remains on my poetic bucket list amongst other things. For now, the ink has been allowed to drip again and I’m hoping it doesn’t stop this year.

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End of Season Wrap

Welcome to my end of year wrap, by the time you read this, it may well be 2015 where you are. If so, blessings of the season to you.

For me 2014 has been the punchline to 2013, a season of reaping and new seeds sewn.

On July 27th 2013 I got engaged, like the obligatory red rag to a bull, the creator in me was fully immersed in all creative aspects other than the wedding dress. Feel free to read the story of the engagement and see highlights of the day.

Late on 2013 I also realised that I’d been in a creative hole topically. In order to rediscover my creativity, I made the decision to mine something other than my relational past for poetry. The feeling of emptiness and reduced output was short-lived as I dipped into the 52 week challenge, a Facebook led year of weekly prompts. Although the ghost of relational past made a brief appearance with “19 stone smile”, I was able to dip into childhood and cast an eye on nature amongst other things. In the 2 months, I also returned to my early topical roots with Oscar Pistorius, Mike Brown and Eric Garner being referenced.

With the wedding planning being my 24/7 occupation, poems such as “The Invitation” and “Ivory Blues” were born.

Knowing that friends and family would expect poetry to feature in my subsequent speech, I wanted to craft one of my best ever pieces. Having resisted the urge to use lines that came to me on poems that could turn out to be the new “Dear Caramel” or “Inception”, it seemed to go well. I’ll post the text of the full 20 minute speech and some of the audio in another blog.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read this year and hope you continue with me during the next.

I leave you with two words that encouraged me today “Be purposeful”

Adrian

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Xpressions Radio – BAD BOYZ KITCHEN – OPEN MIC

I haven’t performed poetry to an audience since my last poetry video but after a twitter recommendation I checked out Xpressions Radio – BAD BOYZ KITCHEN – OPEN MIC. I listened to some great poetry called in and blessed the mic with “Dear Caramel” a piece that needs to be heard if you’ve not heard it already. I hope to bring something as often as I can so poets, lets support each other.

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Every Man

While you hold me to his debt I’m not every man you ever met
Yes my appetite you whet as you’re a classier name than prêt a manger
But your not meat on the bread of a moment of lustful throbbing
As I’m not every man you ever met I want to take the opportunity without threat
To know your nature and spirit and earn respect creating a sense of your loyalty and longing

Because I’m not every man you ever met
If first dates are a performance make yours a tight set
My hook will sink to your minds depths and make your mind sweat just to see if we can be anchored before I start the learn the lines that make you writhe all wet
I want to know if this could be a long term holding rather than just room to let

If I’m not every man you’ve met should that concept of us be tainted to the point of regret?
See between my boys and I we’ve been heart broken, done the heart breaking
But you’re not the devil and yes its pain staking that I’m claiming not to be every man you’ve ever met but it is a gamble and I can’t afford lose this bet because I am not….every man you’ve met

See now if you were every woman I’ve met I’d be your full time ego massager, self-confidence builder, find your self parlour, good man experience, game simulator, half-heart magnet, status elevator and so you want to say its because all men have commitment issues
If you’re every woman I’ve met I might need security just to miss you when you’re not around
I prefer to think every woman is profoundly different so I take every one I meet as a lesson in the art of perfecting my manhood

A man should know himself and have a stronger desire to make him better than to make you wetter.
Bad times I’m not dead to , but if I’m every man you’ve met you should know how to handle me, untangle me, get the upper hand on me, be a better man than me
Know how blessed I be, exactly what my best will be and how to get he best of me
I’m already praising God for how blessed we’ll be, it’ll be perfect…

Or… when we have peace will you create war because you’re bored
As I’m every man you’ve ever met, would you want to know more?
Why should I be the one you adore, can’t you find someone you’ve never met so I can be free of his, his and his debt or am I your reason number 2004 to be lesbian

You aren’t every girl I’ve ever met, but I’ll meet  someone else I’ve never met so that I can be male but as far out of your range I’ll ever get because I’m not your target practice

My glass is half empty and I want someone to match this mentality I practice while your confidence gets you a King size bed with a queen size mattress
Or a doormat instead of me because I’ll never be every man you met and as your next will never be as good as I get
You can have this poem as my reason why

See you could be my bird but you aren’t so fly and besides…
I’m grounded

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Notes on a week part 1

Effectively this weeks notebook,  poetic scrawls and other writing. Enjoy!

4th Jan 2010

I want you so badly see

I’ve been trying to find a good one

You’ve just landed see

Want you to wade in to my sea

Man up and handle me

Love is blind so let us swim

Intimacy

5 January 2010

You may not have asked me for it but I know you want it

The concept affects my make up like a bad orthodontist

We make for classic reading like Charlotte Bronte

In spite of all that’s gone you hint that I’m the one

Every day feels like a slow walk to Rubicon

I can’t decide whether it’s a lead weight or a plated medallion

6 January 2010

So it the fan and the tears spray

It’s a time when I all I want to do is pray

Will he hear me?


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