Seamus Heaney talked of the pride one should feel in the title 'poet', but whenever that term is used to describe me I recoil a bit. I wrinkle. Which is inconvenient, because I have written a lot of poems in my wee life - at this juncture, it's the thing I'm most "known" for, a mode of writing I've employed on a regular and public basis. In adolescence it was my key form of expression (see AyeAye12) but it started to become a game of serendipity - waiting versus gush - an iota or so into adulthood. It's not unenjoyable, just less of a compulsion than it was, probably because I'm overthinking my craft a lot of the time.
In my head there's always this distinction between poems (i.e. meaning-candles, miracles of human expression, flying islands) and poetry (outdated, unpopular, the Scene that Rips Itself at the Seams). I think this comes about because I'm very conscious about the stereotypes and kinds of people poets can be, an antagonised class of people who cultivate poshness or arrogance or pretension and so on. Distant floaty metaphysical yada-yada.
Which are all qualities I want to avoid, to say the least, as do many poets - there are innumerable loving sensitive poets in the world! As well as poets that are just a mix of bad and good!! Like any human!!! Poets are just people, really, yet here I am arguing for distance from that title, poet.
The most simple reason for my scepticism is that poet doesn't actually cover all I do. It's a convenient box which obscures my scriptwriting, my fiction-writing, my performances, creative flow of all sorts, each of which give me equal but different joys. And of course, is there anything else more poet-y than a poet dismissing their class and craft as pointless, if not antagonistic? I wonder sometimes if the nebulous "issues" people have with literary cliques is just that every individual feels they are outside the clique, a clique that everyone feeds with their outsider status, thereby fostering a clique. I despise the writer who parades self-deprecation as thinly-veiled braggadocio, the performative "tortured" artist, but I fear I am parroting those same dysphemistic points right now...
At the end of the day would I even want to be a "not-poet"? probably not. Let's just say that I am, indeed, someone who writes poems. As a teenager I was a prizewinner in two national competitions (RSPB's Wildverse and the Pushkin Prizes (rest in power)), then the international Foyle Young Poets for three consecutive years (commended in 2014 and 2016, prizewinner in 2015). In Aberdeen I organised dozens of performance nights, where a lot of poetry was performed, sometimes from my mouth. I'll probably keep writing poems until death/my soul is uploaded into the Quantum Hyper-Terminal of Divine Providence, but of all my writing-streams poetry is the one with the most lateral value, which is not to say I dislike it, as Sass Queen Marianne Moore quipped, but rather consider it to have a more inward (slash relativist) purpose than prosaic modes, even when belted from a stage.
Anyway, as a reward for getting through this spiel, here are some more pictures of me opening my tongue-flap to let dirtied light through a forest of microphones &c.-
Filmpoems for BBC The Social