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To continue the virtual component to our Poets Are Present poetry residency, we asked spoken word poet Tom Gill, who plays Boy Soldier in Dunsinane, to answer a few questions about his poetry and to share a few links to his work.
STC: What is the story that started you on your poetry career?
Tom Gill: I went to see a spoken word poetry night in the U.K. with poets Kate Tempest and PolarBear and was really inspired by their style and expression. Poetry wasn’t something I’d ever really connected to at school but watching them perform I was really engaged with the content. I’ve always written various songs and stories since I was younger so decided to put some new material out in 2014, entering poetry slams across England, where I went on to win a number of competitions including the UK National Slam.
STC: What poems or poets inspire you?
TG: Poets or poems that have a unique and honest voice that’s true to their cultural roots, such as Simon Armitage or John Cooper Clarke who is a punk poet from my hometown Salford in Manchester. Here’s one of my favorites of Clarke’s:
I Wanna Be Yours
By John Cooper Clarke
I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours
I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours
I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair with deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic Ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion
STC: Can you tell us a bit about your process: where do you write your poems (in a notebook, on your phone, etc), How long does it take you to write a poem, and once a poem is written, what is your preferred way of reflecting on the poem?
TG: I usually write them out loud when I’m walking from one place to another, which often gets a few odd looks, and then I record them on my phone. All in all it probably takes a couple of weeks because I usually write pieces to be performed live and think 3-5 minutes is usually an optimal time.
STC: What do you strive to do with your poetry? Do you have specific goals when you begin a poem, or do you write and see where it goes?
TG: I strive to express social and political views, as well as stories and observations from my point of view, and [I] hope to inspire, educate or connect with people through that, who may share similar or even have opposing experiences or views. Engaging is the key really.
STC: What have we inherited from the poets of the past? What should we abandon?
TG: I enjoy contemporary poetry, but I think that it’s important to recognize influences from the past. For me, creating images through words can be really powerful and that’s what I get from Shakespeare’s text and also maintaining those cultural roots in your work like W.B Yeats did. I think we should abandon the exclusivity and a certain style of delivering poetry and find poetry in the everyday that’s accessible to everyone.
Interested in seeing Tom perform his poetry? Click the links below:
4 Minute Fix by Tom Gill – Live at Hackney Attic