Jeremy Toombs is a poet and teacher living and working in Bristol, where he also regularly performs at poetry slams and spoken work events. Here he performs his poem 'The Alleppey Express'.
"I first started writing poetry back in 1989, when I was 11-years-old and heard my fifth grade reading The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. I remember it vividly. The rhythm is very strong; you can feel the stride of the horse along some darkened lane going to his lover's window.
"'The Alleppey Express' was written in a stream-of-consciousness. 'First thought, best thought' as Ginsberg said. Sometimes the best thing you can know about a poem is when to start and when to finish. I was trying to capture being in India. There's a magic to being in India that's hard to quantify and in trying to quantify anything Star Wars seems just as relevant to me as anything else. So the poem's about Star Wars, reincarnation, train rides, meditation, and how everything is just that: everything.
"I like the sound of my own voice. I didn't use to but I like it now. What I really like is the way words feel rolling off of the tongue, coming out of my mouth, reverberating in my chest. Poetry should be heard. This is the mistake people make when they read 'academic' or 'page' poetry. Don't just read it. Stand up. Read it out loud. Loud. I have a special feeling for Wordsworth. If you are reading this: get a copy of The Prelude, book VII, and read it aloud. It feels good.
I've only been in the UK for about two years but the state of the performance poetry sceneis amazing, and I couldn't have found a better town than Bristol to locate myself as a poet. I do wish this divide that unfortunately exists between page poetry and performance poetry will one day disappear.
"Which other poets inspire me? This one is a humdinger. I studied creative writing and literature in school as a kinda double major so I've read a lot, but here's a go at a list: the beat poets, read along with the Romantics, read along with the Harlem renaissance. Then from the beats and the American transcendentalist back to the Buddhists and Taoist poets and vedic philosophy. And then there's reading Moby Dick aloud and seeing that prose can be written poetically. I'd like to get into Arabic poetry next, but I don't really know where to start."