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i always cry when i hear a poem read. (1)

Damilola Odelola, 2014

as some of you will remember, I made some work with boni caincross over the last few years, which focus on voice and the spoken word.

since being in london, i have delved into the amazing spoken word/performance poetry scene here - managing to see a stack of really amazing poets that i now stalk online/call friends.

speaking of which, last night, kareem parkins-brown (no obvious relation) invited me to the showcase for this year's barbican young poets programme.

it was phenomenal.

25 poets, all under 25, all crazy skillful and electric.

i'm not versed in writing about poetry (geddit?!) - yeah, that's why - Ed. so i'm not going to do the night justice at all, because i can't write about each and every poet, nor even describe the night very well.

but i will say that it got me. i clicked and cried a lot.

i'd never seen group poetry before and some of them were phenomenal. one in particular - speaking about families and homes and using the form of the group to highlight the range of disparity in a family as in the group itself. holy shit, astounding.

some individual stand-outs included emily harrison, who spoke of falling in love with strangers in t-cut; shonshana anderson's cool american delivery that reminded me of a young patti smith mixed with a young lily tomlin; greer dewdney and her work meant to be - a cutting work a social situation, using a form invented by one of the other poets ankita saxena; kareem (yeah, so what if i'm biased - he was amazing and had people standing up for him! deservedly so) with his work about his mother and the way he described her sighs and posture of sadness; antosh wojcik with his well-crafted gonzo/surrealism and cameron brady-turner's living along: an experiment, a crushing story of OCD that had us all gasping on a bus.

 (cue envelope opening)
and dami odelola, who had the line of the night in her work and the stuff that comes before a fall. seriously, all the ladies in the house were clicking and showing appreciation like mad, and probably a stack of men too. i can't quite remember because i was hit.

it was a line that hasn't left me. i couldn't really hear the three poets after that line, because my mind had  hit a glitch and was just skipping back and forth over that line.

aside from the lyricism itself, it was a line that struck me squre. and i knew from then on, for the first time in my life, that being used by men was not my fault. but it wasn't entirely theirs either - i was a solution to a gnawing hurt.

it still makes me cry.

and i'm sorry you all couldn't hear that line. because although i've posted the image of it up there, taken from the bodacious anthology that they produced, it's not the same. it's not even close to sitting in a room, hearing the energy, the timbre, rhythm; seeing the gestures and the fire inside, and being in a group of people for whom 16 words hit them behind their eyes at the same time.


Martin Creed: Pointing

A few weeks' ago, my regular art date, sitdowncomedian, and I went to the Martin Creed show at the Hayward gallery. We were both struggling a little, heavy hearts for different reasons, but found it the perfect antidote.

It was the first time I've seen the breadth and the depth of Martin Creed's practice*.

Until this point, it's only ever been catalogues, a few displays in group exhibitions/biennales/etc and a ramshackle live performance at Goldsmiths.

I think the man is pretty great, I just didn't realise how much until this show.

The thing about this show is that you just have to see it. You don't even need to know anything more about it than that.  

Which renders this post a little superfluous, really. However, i will do my best to write something about it, but still, just save up your Ā£11and see the show.

Succinctly, it's a show about ascendence (and descendence).

In as many ways you can possibly think of.

The curators at the hayward have done a shit-hot job of taking you on a journey along that simple-but-profound-idea and it's immensely satisfying.

It is the busiet show i've seen in a while, because of the frenetic and prolific nature of his work.
Yet  because of the size and the purity of it, it's not cluttered or overstated. Which feels an odd thing to say about a show that repeatedly speaks about the same thing over and over and over again.
But because he comes at it from a variety of facets, it's clear and pure and crystalline in form.

A diamond says the same thing about carbon over and over again and is brilliant and dazzling, without being bloated or overstated.

This show is like that.

Yes, I know, I just compared Martin Creed's show to a diamond.
Perhaps I am guilty of overstating.

Anyway, without giving too much of the show away, you can look forward to highs and lows, ups and downs in a gorgeous cascade of variety, including:

Colour spectrums (ascending light/colour)
Musical scales (ascending and descending) on the piano - played by the security staff
Towers of boxes (ascending space)
Towers of other objects (ascending form and line)
Phallic cacti getting bigger/smaller (natural order)
Cocks doing the same 
A newly erected wall (it's all about getting it up)
Even the ramp was blocked off (for clear reasons to do with safety) and you had to climb up and down those stairs.

Up and down, up and down, again and again and again.

It sounds like a Doctor Seuss book in visual form.

Perhaps it's exactly like that - filled with direct poetry, profound ideas and joy joy joy for the hell of it.

A couple of nice and fitting diversions from the theme include the massive swinging MOTHERS sign. It didn't wow me that much the second time around, but it is a crowd-pleaser.

The funny film of a dog and a couple of people tracking back and forth across the screen. It could be arbitrary, but it seemed to be triggered by people crossing the space, which I liked.

And a cool trick with a car doing something similar;

The wall of tape - which was sort of like a colour spectrum, but more linear. And ridiculous. And reminded me of friends who have tape obsessions (Hi Julia, Phiroze and Gemma!);

Nipples and arseholes/ nautical installations and objects, which were lovely (although not quite as lovely as Sue Webster and Tim Noble's similar things);

The balloon room. Although I was in no state to really plunge into that fit of joy on that day, by all accounts it was pretty exciting, if not a bit claustrophobic (like the Gormley White Light room);

And, the great wall of broccoli prints, which lead me to fantasising about being Martin Creed's Broccoli Assistant:

"oh, nice to meet you, what do you do"
"I work for Martin Creed, I'm his Broccoli Assistant"

with the business card:

Lauren Brown

Broccoli Assistant
Martin Creed Studios
London, UK

See? the exhibition takes you to some absurd places, without being obtusely, or disrespectfully ironic (everyone knows how much I fucking hate irony as the core of an artwork). And because it is so generous, it also leaves plenty of room to dislike works without feeling left out or hating the whole show.

Like all good art shows should.

If you want to round out the well-rounded experience at the Hayward, pop across the way and head into the Royal Festival Hall, to the Singing Lift. It features his ascending/descending sound work, which overlooks a different perspectve of the balloon room.

In fact, this added exterior perspective of the show was great and not something I had seen in many shows at the Hayward. It was a reflection of an exhibition which concerned itself with entirety.

From the outside 'car park', you could see the image of the dogs on the side of the opposite building, and from the section with the wall, you looked towards the towers of The Shed and the Tate Modern - similar to structures seen instide. (I did have a little wish that the tower of the Tate Modern had been painted in a colour spectrum by him, so it would tie all in nicely across that southern bank.)

Anyway, you should go and see the show.  I'm going back for seconds soon.

*I always call him by his full name Martin Creed. Just Creed or just Martin seems weird to me.

image: pinched from the martin creed site itself.