The most immediately striking thing about an evening of spoken word is the almost tangible electricity in the air. No one is quite sure what to expect because every act differs in tone, delivery, style and content which turns the evening into a mad up and down trajectory of individuals pouring their hearts and minds into a microphone for an appreciative audience.
Poetry for me is now gloriously blurred with colours, images, musics, streaming video, satellites. It is time to give it a new name. It is no longer 'hard', it is not elitist, it is not rarefied or magical or the arena of a select few, it is a safe environment to play with anything you want, without boundaries or judgement.
There are so many wonderful American poets who have not achieved the fame (or notoriety) sufficient to carry their names or poems across the pond. Here are five such diamonds in the rough, selected for their energy, tenacity, and all-around fine work, that are worth keeping an eye on in the coming year.
This month, Alice Oswald and John Kinsella withdrew themselves from the TS Eliot Prize shortlist. Their reasoning? The funding behind the TS Eliot prize now comes from Aurum, a hedge-fund investment company, rather than the recently withdrawn Arts Council Funding that used to keep the Poetry Book Society afloat.