How Lockdown is expanding one poet’s horizon’s
Lockdown has allowed all of us to expand our on-line horizons and gain new skills. For some poets this is allowing them to read to new audiences and develop new platforms.
We spoke to Walsall poet, Gerald Kells, about how lockdown is affecting his poetry performances.
So, Gerald, how are you coping with the lockdown poetry world?
"I’m reading poetry at least as often, but in different forums. I’m been reading at on-line poetry readings and slams I previously wouldn’t have been able to get to, such as Stafford Live run by Mel Wardle Woodend and Jonathan Watkiss and Swindon’s Oooh Beehive run by Clive Oseman and Nick Lovell. I’ve done some readings at mixed music and poetry open mic events which I wouldn’t have done otherwise and I’m recording videos and sending in poetry for Facebook events, such as PASTA in Wolverhampton and Yes We Cant in Walsall, which the Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists have organised."
And how different is that to reading in person?
"In some ways it’s the same, in others more intimate and you have to tailor your material to that. We’ve all had to deal with the lockdown blues so I’ve found up-beat and humorous poems work well, but there’s also a lot of emotions to get out. Technically there are also challenges. Laptop microphones are not the best and I did buy my own mic to stop my voice dropping off whenever I turned slightly and that’s certainly helps, but more generally, watching myself perform helps to show up when I’m not speaking clearly or my gestures aren’t right."
Have you down anything else from on-line readings?
"Yes, I set up my YouTube Channel which allows me to put short poetry videos on the web and people can find them:
At the same time, I’ve found on-line groups which support particular forms of poetry. I’m a real fan of haiku and Amanda White’s Daily Haiku is great as well as the Lost Haiku Facebook group. I also got one of my poems into one of the Haiflu videos organised by Liv Torc. Through lockdown I’ve also been taking photos of my garden and putting new haikus on my own Facebook page.
Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists have been running a great event called ‘Stay Up Your End’ to get people to write about the Black Country districts and that has been great because it’s made me think about where I live and put my thoughts down on paper.
There’s also Rick Sanders PoArtry page which keeps that Ekphrastic initiative alive.
And have you been successful as a result?
Well, I won a prize for a poem in the Spoke in the Lamp on-line video and won a slam for Live Stafford
My poem got first place in their Oceans Video.
and my poems ‘Cats’ has just been chosen for the Purr-fect anthology supporting the Cat Protection League.
So, are you looking forwards to the end of lockdown?
Oh yes, like everyone I’m missing intermingling at pubs or theatres for poetry readings. There are some live events which haven’t gone on line and I’m going to be glad to go back to those, as well as hoping to join new people live after lockdown from readings I’ve done during this hiatus.
And the hair?
I’ve got a lockdown fringe,
I did it with some sheers,
it looks an awful lot better
after a couple of beers
I’m just saying…
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