So I’m back blogging, after a short hiatus during which I a) wrote a bunch of poems, b) got married c) read a bunch of books d) spent a lot of money. Hello again.
I recently dipped my toe into the murky world of spoken word poetry. Having realised I’m quite the extrovert and quite like being up on stage in front of a captive audience, I thought I’d have a little look at spoken word/ poetry nights in London. A quick Google search threw forward Jawdance: a monthly night at Rich Mix in East London. So, new wife in tow, off I went to see what was up and exploit the open-mic offer.
Originally, I intended to perform something from BRIDGES, or one of my older poems that I like, but when I started flicking through/ listening to my own back catalogue, it became apparent that I should write something new. So I did. About teaching, being a teacher, and what it would be like if teachers were like footballers. I might record this one day, but for now, you can read below. My three minutes on stage went fairly well as it goes, so yes, you are witnessing the birth of Unseen Flirt the spoken word poet. Once I get the moo.com cards printed up it’ll be official.
The poem itself is fairly light, with greater emphasis on performance than my usual stuff, which tends to be almost aggressively rhythmic. I’ll experiment with heavier material in the future, but it’s always good to get the crowd on side with something fun. I’m making it my mission to write material as rich, paranoid and dense in meaning as, say, Midwinter Spring, (see BRIDGES) but as easily accessible and fun as a football chant. It will be done. Below is a scan of my original scrawlings from my Moleskine:
Right then. Here’s the poem.
IF TEACHERS WERE LIKE FOOTBALLERS
If teachers were like footballers – can you imagine that?
I’d be standing here in a blazer with my name across the back.
There’d be children up and down the land with posters of me teaching
And they’d support the borough that I teach in,
So I suppose they’d support…
I’d be teaching in a stadium with 60,000 people,
You’d already know my name before I had a chance to meet you.
You’d have seen me in the paper; there’d be pictures of me smiling
As I put a little bastard in detention – on a Friday.
You’d want to get my autograph,
You’d whisper when you saw me.
You’d groan at my mistakes
And when I’m great, you would applaud me.
You’d queue to see my lessons and you’d pay to come and see me
And the ratings would be high whenever I was on the TV.
I could actually own a car
‘Cos I could actually afford it,
I’d be creaming off the cash from all my lucrative endorsements,
Like – BIC: ‘For when you REALLY need to tick’.
Take a picture –click!-
Hand on hip,
Billboard sized pic.
Picture Mr Boakye (me)
And the paparazzi
Taking pictures of me leaving Parent’s Evening after dark in
A designer tweed jacket
With designer dark glasses,
Trying hard to hide behind a shiny new designer mark-book…
And every single test would be a national event
And all my fans would scream out “Yes!” whenever I devised a question
That my pupils couldn’t guess –
-And the pundits would suggest
That “He’s really at his best, when he’s facing a bit of pressure.”
And I’d have a tacky mansion
At the teachers’ World Cup, I’d proudly sing the national anthem
“Give them GC…SEs/ At least 5 A… to Cs…” (to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen)
I’d listen to the government; teach for anyone who bought me
And I’d never go to poorer schools who could never afford me.
I’d go and teach with Toby Young.
I’d teach at an academy.
I’d whore myself to private schools;
It wouldn’t even sadden me…
But teachers, aren’t like footballers.
So let’s reject that fantasy.
My triumphs and disasters,
Do not come with swollen salaries.
And if they did?
It wouldn’t actually really even matter be…
…cause teachers aren’t like footballers.
And that’s the way it has to be.
(at this point, there was a little “awww” from the audience, before the rapturous applause).