Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chloe Poems. The Maybes?

Right and left last week I read in four different venues, a performance milestone and interesting run of intense activity. The largest hosting was the final one - Saturday last - a huge gathering of singers, versesmiths and entertainers par excellance. A real celebration of sorts, it was the final in a set of sociologically themed events spread over a few days, which I had been unaware happened, until shortly before the denouement was due to occur, an open mic finale. Numerous Ulster poets where there to demonstrate and celebrate the potential for good to happen in society at a grass root level.

The power of "you too, fair play, good on yer, lash it out, wha'," in a loose taggle of artists seeking victorious utterance on the plain of speech and through that sense of ascending attainment the campaigns engender in the gods of persuassion, teased to form in a rag bag lot of all sorts, assorting, assimilating in the space.

For some not resident in Dublin whose arrangements to attend poetical events in this strange, yet exceptionally rewarding place nessitate an overnight stay, the event was pencilled in, a verbal exchange documented possibly in an advance invite or acceptance, the printed record, a possession of electronic form of what passed between you and the person hosting perhaps?

For the more organised person some may feel uncomfortable around, not - I hasten to add - due to any socioligical defect in the wholly imaginary, yet slightly offputting person, our grey, modest character hinted at. The ghost we do not know but sense has weightless gravitas, the power of his fright invisible, yet relevant for they calling an anorak to fix the location as an islands premier cinema and central repository for much spiritual and physical evidence of her cinematic history and filmic lore.

Many ran to a timetable, but some whose domestic locale is closer and whose orbit of poesy is controlled by a higher power, the personae of tweed in a fishermans grey eye and white of Olwengin river, the jagged green grass at the base of Maumturk and sky in pale blue above Na Beanna Beola, did not.

I hovered at the fringe and assumed the role of poet, important as a bag of arses, wating by the door on twelve pins, frequently slipping out and spending a sizable chunk of the do elsewhere. This being a sudden occurence my plans had been tossed into dissaray and by 11pm I was keen to seal the final abandonment of hope for their retreval, nip to an off licence before it closed; which I accomplished and returned to a sizable cultural space at the Irish Film Institute to herald a cyber-collective's poetic success.

The networking capacity of the world wide web had been marshalled to stunning effect as an organisational tool to keep in touch and draw others into on the quest of seeking poetic affirmation, each in a unique frequency seeking our datum, universe, imaginary rule or, original blueprint to create with, and - as we practice the oral craft - adhere to, in search of clues for ways of making ingenious and extremely pointless verbal fictions considered most ludicrous by all but a few, bring true faith in outward practice of the belief that a key to good humanity unlocks the gate of inner freedom and ritual, to secure and maintain correct spiritual rank in the verbally inverted community, utilise a net and let it support our messianic dream.

Penniless prophets in suburbia whose masses of potential long since dissipated, seeking artistic succour with a harmless cyber career and pretend/project crafted fantasy into an electronic continuum, publishing for hobby, business, pleasure or boredom and met like minded pals who share stuff such as collecting rare violins, manuscripts, stamps, tea bags, jingles or, when looking on less common leisure paths which lead intricate linguists who don't get out much to poets, those who prefer their domestic ritual a singular fictional laneway of love, the mess of self in an adult relationship, paint on pallette, fodder a rise in sound to slip, set, descend an arc of decline and only return in the upswing of an inner lullaby leading back to boy who moved into my neighbourhood, won't do nothing right, just sit down effin a lot.

He don't wanna go to Youghal and learn to read and write, just sits around the house and plays that rock and roll music all nite, utter shite, have you heard, boom boom boom of a backroom where Lilly Marlene met O'Neill, before he met the golden Farrah, Marlene a force in Hollywood fading by the light of Ryan's tawny locks?

London, Derry, Galway and Cork came, Dublin based spoken worders too and addressed fellow fans, toiling comrades, the hip and the lame in linguistic turmoil at a hullaballoo language feast of poem and song, joining the demo, front line veterans celebrating love.

A sizable portion of the collective make planetary displays of themselves in the shop window of my space, where a large number of poets connect, network and find their signpost to wisdom and inner enlightenment point right, the planet of wannabes succour via art with a remarkabley different kind of visceral and physiologically exciting poetic form of engagement in the spoken work, for both reading and audience professional alike.

Much performance there is an opposite of the regimented, sombre and somehwat boring tradition of a silent poetic reverance the occasional verse centric poet historically fell prey to concocting as the primary enthrallment or soporific live aid over the duration of a career in the public speaking of defunct mumbo jumbo, important as pigshit, quantum torpor.

Unconscious audience members are notably absent in this pro-active new wave, where the liminal state between psychological and physiological support, vocal advocacy and howling encouragement is but the oral warp of an acoustic weft, strands for the poet to snarl or harness, mesh of experience in chance and timing as they practice in reality a sound of the string within. Test an aural object, go verbal, career as a witness of measure and thus live teeth with supportive participation in the genuinely different yet populist strain of affirmational poetry are cut, nascent, spring-like and the indicator of an active health in the form of oral gymnastics bestowing what - some say - constitutes a contemporary edge, incisive and ever more sharply dilineating the shift in balance, away from print/reader and into live/audience, engaged in the grass root process that twenty years ago was a limbo land of crazy bald head straights, hip loonies forging underground careers, John Hall and - ten years later - Chloe Poems.

Faith accrued on stage won out at the UK Arts Council. The polarity of it's funding ethos entirely reversed over the course of a decade, the seismic shift this year, as the majority of poet funding now being doled is to artists of dual focus who publish, plus perform, thus signalling the strategy of mothballing a pre-web wine and cheese career train the mainstream crop who lit big in the 70's - 90's were once reared on and radical marxists at.

The emphasis no longer is on the wholly printed logo of a remote and aurally enobling mind, but one's word as performative text. The ethos being that by encouraging language experts to master the physiological side of opening the gob and going for broke, so their capacity to entertain will increase, in more clear lyrically immediate and measurable manner than pre-net.

The notion of detached utterance - a legacy WB Yeats left the poetic community as it's most influential English language poet of the 20C - is no longer the sole prepotent force affecting movers and shakers grooming careers and picking chosen ones, but one slipping in eminence and influence, as rap copping where the action gets decided snaps a clap-o-meter of syntax, a briefcase, some papers and spectacles.

The arts officer is ex-habit, busted for finding God in O'Neill, who begins the meeting with a bendy yoga move, adding gravitas and weight to the theory delivered straight that all avenues of escape open or shut matter not to the gods, their world a web of singledom, inability to upgrade, guess reality to be some dream a gifted laureate is and not just docked effing off at the page where leak sound and motion, career along a lonely path aural but also orally trod, the artistic spirit a masterpiece where the headcount of an audience in transit is his. Tot up the time of engagement and spread good art, funding with a purpose of corporeal participation for a lingo nuts audience.

It is logical that poets at the nexus of their performance ability draw bums on seats, enthrall instantly in the flesh more than the previous - and ever dwindling - mainstream book maestro administering to consumers who dropped shopping for poetry fare on the High Street where increasingly pointless squares whose dwindling corner at market talking up the torpor, sales falling, annointing the wholly chosen one's, the next best bet on the possibly real thing, the modern poet in a formulae that guarantees anything goes, any mad theory given a brush at the old guard bog struggling to paint with the authorative eye poetic proclomations from the stratosphere of lyrical intelligence, a polygon of poesy must cube out at least in order to acheive career bouyancy in the overpopoulated circus of primarily free verse with supple muscular rhythm and rhyme, with all sorts of think-ups in the mix.

The name of the game is pyrotechnical wordplay, a lot of blaze and little dependable heat or goliaths on the horizon fresh from Parnassus, an offspring of Appollo dropped by a crane into the hustle and bustling lingo discipline, in which a lot of potty people train, for as many reasons as there are nutters in search of lettered enlightenment, a publisher to take one's work on and publish primarily for oneself - like John Hall of Citizen 32 fame and myself.

A legend proving it over the course of living his unique career of long slog, which paid off for John, as he now has the most exciting whirlwind to rip through UK poetry since Philly Hobsaum jiggied a Group, sharing his professional orbit.

John is the connection to and took a polar opposite career course from a cute huer, Pam Ayres . You should see Socrates in the 70's, yeah you should hear Socratic Pam, she's the kind of the girl who made News of the World and kind of cultural reality and de facto dictator to boot, of remote poetry that drew millions in. She was as watched as the biggest mid seventies prime time gods. Men like mimic Mike Yarwood and his most senior variety genius Bruce Forsyth, still acting the entertaining maggot in his eighth decade. A primetime legend. Pam's feat of holding the TV gaze of a nation whilst acknowledging the sum of her wisdom is an awareness of her ignorance, psyche and place in the rating's rank at the entendre of bottom ender charts none but Pammy, Betcheman and a few other quare feckers have entered.

For those who do not bet, John Hall is a rational cosmologist's punt, his live cultural currency commanding an ascending rate of coolness in curent exchange for his experiential worth as a poet. Pam too has incredible kudos and this ex RAF - now special agent of light comedic verse - is undercover or due a surge to even greater heights, should the spheres command her re-entry into an orbit of fame not for the faint hearted anytime soon.

Chloe Poems, was once eyed, shared a bill with at Stamps Wine Bar in Crosby, around the time a friend of mine from inner city Liverpool - where Chloe hails from - introduced me to a rock 'n roll band from his hood called The Maybes? Who eyed also in the nemeton of Civic Hall three years ago when Ormskirk roared.

A remote force not of this world motions Chloe Poem's career orbit and his inner ascent her higher power, the authority controlling Chloe's chromatically trans-neutered accent is north inner city Liverpool. Not a location condusive to inspiring unnatural faith of eventual poetic attainment for a sensitive man who dresses as a woman, expressing philosophy he preaches through Chloe Poems, unless the force be with you, Chloe on the Dolby speakers drifting out of hearing range only true gods command, she whose persona is flawlessly executed and far removed from the physically neutral looking and shy, but clearly focussed man behind her creation who I also shared a waiting area with, a cramped set of stairs - the toilets were his changing room - leading from the bar to the upstairs function room where a randomly drinking audience in a light state of intoxication were fully entertained by the incomporable Chloe, who is unforgettable in utterance, unlike no other craic-whore queen cooking nazi sock and fecking at a Toxteth crack-shack beyond a scale of one to ten, who has ever effed off his head before, because she invented his accent and her rage between register passes for both prol and aristo alike, simultaneously. So all who flock to witness this master and mistress of linguistic control, eff off, she is untouchable in the performance of his work.

A veteran verbalist voicing truth to the nation but constrained by fairness and diviersity legislation, injects a common dose of sensible utterance at packed places wherever she stars to an audience of fellow artists who practice being human, cold juice the shell Chloe out could claim mid afternoon sofa rights, an alternative Pam Ayres for noughties effing Briton. Bruiser from a bowery dell booming on the cobbles, of a slapper's stolen heart, her pimp a wicked old tranny, the non recollectable hag old fag and annonymous author of the voice in useless force, her alter ego his male mirror out reaching to effable she who is all feckin this and fockin that.

He posesses a similar spirit as the Maybes?

What struck me about this gang of scouse rockers - whose EP cover is the image above - was how far they outshone the support bands and nearest musical rivals, on the night. All round; in singing, playing and harmony, they exposed a raw and powerful truth to a competition who, wilting in jealousy at four gods sounding in cultural thunder beyond the attainment of all but chosen ones, tried as best they could with the dream more dwindling charade, and continued. A tight four piece drawing all within earshot to tap along, true rock 'n roll band and joy to hear, who rock with raw vocal power, as I re-discovered on Myspace. On the up, 54,000 hits, songs played 30,000 times by eager listeners.

Have a listen. You will not be dissapointed by the lead singer and visceral verbalist blooming like the mesmeric rocker he is. His voice is at peak strength and I am willing to bet will outroar most others circuiting a similar lyrical track.

The Maybes?