This time our special guest was Adisa the Verbalizer, a performance poet and a splendidly original and fresh artist. His first public performance in the summer of 1993 was shortly followed by a success of world-wide scale – Adisa came first in an international competition titled “New Performance Poet of the Year”.
“Answer any question with a poem?”: Adisa replies with “Challenge accepted!” And this was exactly the essence of our highly interactive session. Our performance poet was bombarded with varied questions, from “Do you have a dog?”, through enquiries into his political views, to the question posed by humanity from the beginning of time: “Does God exist?” The answers were as varied as the questions. Some were amusing, others entirely serious, but all were poems which left space for one’s personal interpretation and answer. The questions asked were aimed at ourselves as much as at Adisa, so the challenge for the participants was to tackle them individually.
Those wishing to find out more about Adisa the Verbalizer and performance poetry are welcome to his site www.adisaworld.com.
On Tuesday September 25th Old Chigwellian Dr Nicholas Perkins visited the WP. He now teaches English at St Hugh’s College Oxford, and spoke about Old English poetry: what makes it special and different, and how it has inspired writers and poets through the centuries. Using an excellent handout he took us through the principles of the alliterative meter, as well as the heroic subject matter of this oral medium. We read some Beowulf and compared the Old English text of The Wanderer with Auden’s Old-English-style updated version. We then moved, through Tolkien, to Heaney, where we focused on how he used his experience of Old English poetry to cut through the English/Irish antithesis of his Northern-Irish upbringing when writing about the the “Troubles”. And finally some riddles.
Overall a scholarly, clear and wide-ranging illustration of the powerful insights we can get from a chronologically long look at poetic culture.
Alan Stubbs, an up-and-coming poet, and brother of the Deputy Head of our Junior School, gave three talks to the Williams Project on what he thinks poetry is, and what he thinks it’s for. His talk was illustrated by several of his own poems, including the Arvon-prize winning ‘a philosophical provocation’, an intriguing attempt to describe a tree in ways which take the reader through various stages of reality: from literal ‘scientific’ truth, to wonderfully rich ‘poetic’ sounds and images, to surrealism, and on to using the tree as a metaphor for the very attempt to describe itself – and all in 16 lines! Other poems included “To Ithaca”, the only poem Alan has deliberately ‘constructed’, written for his daughter’s marriage. It’s a haunting piece which uses the Japanese ‘kesa’, a formal garment made from reused silk, as an image for the ceremonial strength and deep-rootedness of marriage itself.
Chigwell VIth form’s performance poets, Jack Stannard and Azeem Khan, performed for the two older WP branches: fast, rhythmic, and deadly seriously funny, these two then led a strong discussion on what made them write, how they wrote, and what they thought poetry was for: both had such different reasons for writing, yet both wrote through a necessity to tell the truth. And we saw a clip of Jack’s hero – John Cooper Clarke.
Aidan returned to Chigwell and gave a talk on the history of his involvement with the King’s Cross area of London, touching on Rimbaud, Blake and Yeats, with plenty of ‘ambient rap’. The event, cohosted with the English department, and blest with students from Ratcliffe College in Leicestershire, continued over supper in Radley’s Yard, and then round the fire at Sandon Lodge, where Aidan explored the symbolism of his Pan Cross, and read from his poetry.