Slam Poet Christmas Message: Ollie Brown
In a special series for Huffington Post UK Culture, some of the country's finest performance poets have recorded exclusive end of year messages. You can read a copy of Ollie's poem below.
How long have you been performing poetry?
I've been writing poems for quite a few years, since I was about 13, but I've only been performing since April when I got the courage to do an open mic at the poetry cafe in Covent Garden. It's very different, writing for yourself and writing knowing that other people are going to hear it. I love performing though, it brings a whole new element of excitement to the catharsis of poetry. Some of the most entertaining nights out in London have been at poetry nights, it's not for everyone, but I'm going to keep doing it until I run out of things to say.
What is your Christmas message about?
I suppose it's a bit of a reflection on the best bits of Christmas, and what I find to be the most comforting parts of it. Christmas is a known quantity, it's built from traditions that are very personal to each family and knowing more or less what Christmas is going to be like makes it something that's very easy to look forward to. For that day you don't have to worry about anything else, about commutes, or work, or whatever day to day troubles you deal with. It's a great chance to round off the year, reflect a bit, and get ready for a whole new year. I think my poem is just about enjoying that, and the potential of Christmas as a point where you can stop, change and realign your priorities.
Who is your favourite poet, and poem?
Poetry is just as diverse as music. It all depends on your mood and finding something you relate to. I do love war poetry, and a bit of Brooke and Thomas Hardy now and then, but my favourite poets are the Write Bloody collective. They really pioneered and pushed the spoken word genre, touring the world and making poetry fun and accessible while writing some of the most beautiful poems I've ever heard. My favourite poet, if I absolutely have to choose one, is Andrea Gibson. The way she manages to construct such stunning images without ever sounding pretentious is a mark of incredible talent. I think poetry is inherently and necessarily personal, you love a poet because you relate to them, not because you feel they are better at writing in any measurable academic sense. Photograph by Andrea Gibson is a poem I love and has the line: 'I wish I was that face you show to strangers when they ask you where you come from', which I still think is one of the most touching sentiments I've ever heard.
Where can we see you perform?
I do as many open mics as my uni timetable allows around London. I love Jawdance, Come Rhyme With Me and Farrago and they are the places I perform most regularly.
What will you be doing this Christmas?
Resting! I'm really looking forward to seeing my family, I haven't seen some of them for a while and I can't wait to catch up. I'll also be taking a bit of my own advice and having a look at how to do everything better after the break. Hopefully I'm going to use the time off as productively as possible, get everything organised and see as many friends as possible. I'm really looking forward to it this year.
You know it’s nearly Christmas when the coke ads are on tv.
It’s nearly time for present laden families to reunite,
in tinsel lined living rooms and put their worries aside.
Holidays are coming.
This year is coming to an end.
Hopefully we’re all a little closer to where we hoped we’d be,
and the changes and the setbacks have energised our feet,
Hopefully we can walk tall into a new year,
maybe with new scars,
but happy knowing we’re still here.
For all that was loved and lost this year.
For all the time we wasted waiting,
for the friends we found,
and for all the drunken fights and fall outs,
we are homeward bound.
Bound to find there is a place we always belong,
between the home cooked hugs and the stocking fillers.
Home is where the haven is,
for all the time we are over worked and under paid,
all the bad coffee and late trains,
we made it through to another Christmas.
Christmas is the great escape.
Die Hard and board games,
leftovers eaten messily off paper plates,
and Christmas cake.
But for me,
It’s half ignored Christmas specials spilling through the tv,
while you scramble through kitchen drawers for double A batteries,
and if you’re lucky,
the snow is making postcard visions,
through the prisms of your windows,
that you stop to watch for a second,
before getting back to your family.
It’s nearly Christmas.
So let’s take a second to remember our birthday wishes,
our resolutions and all the promises we made to ourselves this year.
Maybe this will be the year we worry less and care more.
And I hope it all goes well.
I hope at home you find that Christmas doesn’t matter,
but family does.
I hope kindness trips of your tongue,
I hope this year you fall in love,
and all you’ll hear in the weeks to come,
is ‘promise me you’ll stay in touch’.
So merry Christmas.
Let’s get back to ourselves.
And in the 12 months to come,
on your dark and rainy days,
I hope this Christmas will remind you,
how much you are loved.