UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DISTRIBUTE THE POEMS FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE WITHOUT SEEKING INDIVIDUAL POETS PERMISSION.
Talia: Welcome to a bonus episode of Cassette Tape Radio!
MUSIC: (Short sequence of musical beeps) (Pacy baseline) (Two-step drum beat)
How you doing? You’ve not heard from me since last year, I’ve been taking a little break from the podcast, working on a few other projects, I’ve been staring at the same four walls everyday for the past 500 years. And I’ve missed you, dear listener. So I wanted to bring you a little bonus episode whilst I’m between podcast seasons.
Todays bonus is dedicated to my beloved What Words Are Ours? a poetry project where I showcase Deaf and hearing artists alongside each other. From sign language poets, spoken word stars, Visual Vernacular performers, drag queens, comedians and more.
If you listen to the podcast or follow my work you’ll already know about What Words Are Ours? you may have even been to one of our sold out live shows, and today I’ve got some stunning performances recorded live at What Words Are Ours? You’ll hear from poets Dean Atta, Reece Lyons, Kareem Parkins Brown and Bayan Goudarzpour. I’ll also be dropping in a little poem.
First up, we’ve got Dean Atta, a writer who was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. His work often deals with themes of gender, identity, race and growing up, he’s appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, and Channel 4. Dean Atta’s debut poetry collection was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and his debut novel, The Black Flamingo, won the Stonewall Book Award. You’re going to hear an excerpt from that book right now…
The question you’ve always wanted to know, all your life, you’ve wanted to ask someone – what is it like to be black drag artist? I’m gonna answer that question for you, ok?
What It’s Like to be a Black Drag Artist
(for those of you who aren’t)
It’s knowing when you step on stage,
people will expect you to represent
all black people. It’s being the only
black performer on the line up, (not tonight) one
of the only black faces in the room.
It’s worrying if a white performer will do
a black face act. It’s worrying your act
is too black, not universal enough. It’s
worrying you’re not entertaining enough
or fierce enough or shady enough.
It’s giving up worrying about being universal
and being you. It’s doing what feels true.
It’s knowing that doing drag and being trans
are not the same. It’s gender nonconforming.
It’s gender bending. It’s gender ascending.
It’s a performance. It’s not letting anyone
else tell you what your drag means. It’s not
really for the audience. It’s for your liberation.
It’s knowing that after this nothing will be
the same for you. It’s a rebirth.
It’s giving birth to yourself. It’s giving
yourself a new name. It’s giving yourself
a new narrative. It’s not letting anyone
forget your name. It’s Marsha P. Johnson
smiling down on you. It’s an ancestry.
It’s a black queen who threw a brick
that built a movement. It’s building
yourself up from zero expectations.
It’s reviving your history. It’s surviving
the present. It’s devising the future.
It’s afro futurism. It’s afro centric. It’s black,
black, blackity-black. It’s batty bwoy, sissy.
It’s queer, gay and faggy. It’s yours
and it’s yours. It’s mine. It’s time to step
out of the shadows and into the spotlight
Talia: On today’s podcast I’m showcasing hearing artists, but as part of this batch of What Words Are Ours? content I recorded some vodcasts – that’s video podcasts – with two incredible Deaf performers Vilma Jackson and Stephen Collins.
Vilma Jackson is a multi-award winning actor whose recent film Triple Oppression is a must see and Stephen Collins is a performer whose work spans Shakespeare, daytime TV and theatre.
Check the link in the podcast description to catch the interviews. Both videos have BSL, captions and some audio description.
Right, onto this…
Talia in front of a live audience: Its now come to the interactive part of the evening…. There was, like a collective clench of bum cheeks there wasn’t there, you were looking at me like ‘oh shit what’s she gonna make us do. It fine, you don’t have to leave where you are, its all good…
That was a snippet of the speed poem section of What Words Are Ours? Each show I ask the audience to hand over their most hated and most loved words and I convince a poet to write a poem using these words.
Talia: OK, I’ve got here blissful tick, vag no. Personal choice, personal preference, Have you got another one?
Kareem: I have oblong love, flaps hate.
Back in September 2019 the poet Kareem Parkins Brown was our brave and wonderful speed poet.
Talia: What’s your favourite or least favourite word?
Kareem: Um, I know what my new favourite phrase is.
Kareem: And its a collective clench of bum cheeks. I did not know…
Talia: copyright at TM.
Kareem: I’m trying to work out what the word for a collective clenching of butt cheeks would be
Talia: yeah, like the collective noun?
Talia: A squelch?
Groans of disappointment from the audience
Right nough of that, lets hear the full poem.
Kareem Parkins Brown:
The title is made up of – there were quite a few words that I couldn’t read – but the title is made up of words that I couldn’t use but that I could read. So its called Boris’ Moist Flaps. Its about laughter so that has nothing to do with it but its a banging title innit. My poetry collection will be called A Collective Clenching of Bum Cheeks and the first poem will be called Boris’ Moist Flaps.
Laughs are meant to be filthy
a laugh should not try to be lovely
or cute. Big up all the ugly laughs
the rasp, the laughs that create
floppy, flaccid, flappy spines.
A laugh is an inverted clench
trying to hold in a laugh
is like an arsehole
trying to be a sauna.
The best laughs
are the ones that are not allowed
to leave, like being starstruck
while you have diarrhea.
(You lot have issues man!)
Laughter is concentrated breath
what happens when a smirk
visits a sauna. People that don’t
find anything funny always smell
damp. A laugh should be luminous,
neon, fluffy, mesmerising
and moist. Mmm moist
yeah you like that word yeah moist?
We only hate it coz of How I Met your Mother
no one hated the word moist before that.
A laugh should be straight and shapeless
like oblong bubbles.
You can be tickled and the laugh leaves
like puss. Leaves you like how arseholes
decant diarrhea. But we should laugh
all the time. A laugh should be as common
as a chestnut. It should be as mundane
as a department meeting about toast.
A laugh should not be pretentious
and fanciful, it should not call knickers
panties, or call a cock
The laugh doesn’t have to be erudite.
It can be a cock that crows.
A laugh is sometimes only acceptable
between two, like when your lover
farts. My laugh is ugly
but it stays in my chest
like a comfortable cockroach.
I call him my little dickymint.
Its apparently a scouse term of endearment,
yeah? Thats a nice one.
A laugh doesn’t need to be scraped
from the mouth. It should not be pulled down
from the shelf, a laugh should squirt.
Sometimes you laugh when nothing is funny,
like when I saw Danielle vomit.
A laugh is like a kaleidescope
on the earlobe.
They used to think a laugh leads to deterioration,
because not all breath inside you is your breath.
So to laugh is to let go.
It is when you invert the clench.
A laugh should leave easily.
Boris should learn something about the laugh.
Something crimson wriggles out of the dark
and it leads to a rainbow.
You wonder why the poem about laughing
keeps mentioning arseholes more than lips.
Well that is becuase all beginings
have an end
and humour is based on the first half
relating to the second half
otherwise known as paraprosdokian
That was a lot of fun….
Kareem Parkins Brown is from North West London (oi oi!). He is proud to be a Barbican Poet Alumni and the 2019 Roundhouse Poetry Slam winner. He’s has collaborated with The Barbican Centre & Tate Britain. You can find him and all the other poets featured today online – follow them, support them, love them.
If you like what you’re hearing you can support this podcast and my work in general by buying me a coffee. Chuck us a fiver, or a tenner, or a quid, whatever you can afford to spare, it all genuinely supports this work. Go to buymeacoffee.com/TaliaRandall
We’re gonna change gear now and welcome the fabulous Bayan Goudarzpour, a poet, writer and twitter enthusiast. Also a former Roundhouse Poetry Collective member and Barbican Young Poets alumni, she has performed at various events and spoken on panels including Female Muslim Creatives’ event ‘Glory in Dis Honour’ regarding Feminism within the realms of Islam. Bayan was also part of the legendary Heaux Noire poetry collective for womxn of colour.
And this is Bayan with Ode to Camden, recorded live at the Roundhouse
Ode to the Demigods in school uniforms who climb onto picnic benches, corners of white shirts untucked and blowing in the wind, a sail mast for somewhere other than this estate or a white flag for everything creeping within the estate.
An ode to the drunk on the bike, screaming ‘DJ Khaled’ into every open window, cackling at the car honks. The entirety of a being rests on someone else knowing how loud you can laugh and how well you swerve the dangers you put yourself in.
An ode to the piercing shop who let me pay them in lottery scratch cards and who have seen more of my body in the last year than any man. Both wield sharp objects but at least a piercer knows where they are aiming, at least a piercer knows how to pretty up a wound.
An ode to the man who threw rocks at me (true story he actually threw rocks at me for no reason) from across the road and went back to a tree to collect some more. I didn’t want you to miss either. The temptation of a memory seeping from a cracked skull seemed too much. I am sure I wouldn’t have moved from the spot, moved closer even if I didn’t have a mother at home.
An ode to the girl crying under the bridge, who didn’t say anything when I asked if she wanted a hand to hold. Who looked as we all do when we realise that surviving means someone else, has to offer you the flesh of their palm in order to know that there is a surface they are pulling you to.
Ode to the road that means coming across Kareem and Roxxi, to that one time whilst listening to Andre 3000, who even this late, after a shift at a way better job, is ‘so low his halo stay way low, it feels like it’s bent’ and ‘So low that he can see under the skirt of an ant’ and so low I need my friends to be more ok than me and so low it feels selfish to ask for them to continue into the next day so that you can hull your body out of foetus position and so low I can’t admit that I would have lost my bearing, 5 minutes away had it not been for the hug.
Ode to loud neighbours scooping the moon out of the sky at 6am and saying good morning in the part of the city where grit and concrete will either kill you young or flower your body with bruises until you remember how soft you have always been.
You’re listening to Cassette Tape Radio, a mixtape style podcast featuring comedy, poetry & interviews like this one:
A man’s voice: Poetry before us was kind of quiet. You might have had tea and crumpets, you know, sat round and maybe whispered to each other, not talk too loud. We put brass knuckles on it, punch you in the face with poetry, we gave it a rowdy sound, we turned up the volume and it became a war cry in many ways, for a lot of people.
(Instrumental jingle ends)
in my mayonnaise half-life
i spent a year
i held a rifle
shooting with a gang
of toffs who said
they were hard
i used to be
he was 24
when i stopped
there were a few
times when I relaxed
on the nightwalk
had me all loose
dad once told me
i should have been
or a singer
my screwface sister gang
had me shooting
they were spent
on a nightwalk
with a 24
held a year when
dad should have been
a balm or a rifle
i stopped washing
there were a few times when
i said who i was
the all of me
i pigeon singer
i loose wrestler
i told to be hard
a late-summer wrestler
once used me
had me on a rifle
i spent 24 times
washing my screwface
with nightwalk balm
a few toffs were there
they were all a gang
should i have
i was a sister
a hard pigeon
who stopped the year
to a singer
That poem was by me, Talia Randall. It appeared in issue 5 of Bath Magg an excellent online poetry journal.
I’ll also be releasing a sign language translation of that poem in early June as part of an ongoing collaboration with Mia Ward, a Deaf BSL interpreter and performer, and Becky Barry a hearing BSL interpreter – watch out for that.
Right, I’m going to close the show now with one more incredible speed poem written from audience suggestions. The poet in question is Reece Lyons and the live recording for this show was totally corrupted but I managed to catch up with Reece via zoom to recreate the moment.
Audience suggestions that were given on the night were Travelodge, Meringue someone shouted the word Crockery very loudly and very passionately from the back of the audience, and Crockery became the title of the poem.
Reece Lyons is a Transgender Writer and Performance Poet based in London. She graduated from The Brit School in 2017 and then she went on to become a Roundhouse Poetry Slam Finalist in 2018, where her poem went viral and has been viewed over 3.5 million times. Through writing and performing, Reece seeks to challenge audience’s perceptions around women, gender, sex and sexuality and deconstruct oppressive narratives around marginalised groups in society.
Please get ready for the one, the only, Reece Lyons with her poem Crockery.
We’re in Travel lodge.
You turn to me and call me beautiful and
with the taste of morning after meringue on your breath,
I knew I should have never shown you my fucking crockery. Thoughts run through my head,
‘Does he know what I know’
‘Does he even care?’
He looks so nonchalant sleeping next to me
‘Does he know that I know that he has done this?’
‘Has he done this many times before?’
‘Did he do this on purpose?’
‘Does he do this often?’
‘Am I something he seeks regularly underneath the sky and amongst the mist?’
I feel at the mercy of my body
I’m ready to leave.
Ready to pack my plates, my dishes, my cups and bowls and parts of me away and leave the travel lodge key in my place.
Until you roll over, and whisper in my ear
That you didn’t know.
And That you don’t ‘look at me any differently.’
And that ‘last night was amazing.’
And that you think I am ‘Inspirational.’
But I don’t care.
I can’t stop thinking about the unwashed sieve sitting on top of the fridge.
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