Wednesday, 24 March 2010

New Bard On the Block...

“The Bard” Magazine.
Interview with Jack Dean (14th Bard of Bath)

BARD MAGAZINE: How would you describe yourself?

JACK DEAN: Bit of a dick really. But I have a sense of humour, and I work hard at the stuff I do. Also, I love lamp.

BM: When did you first become interested in performance poetry? Do you think that your childhood/adolescence has played a big part in you becoming a Bard?

JD: Basically, I got majorly into hip hop around age fifteen. I got vexed about the usual teenage stuff and wrote verses about it in the back of my homework diary. Then I’d go to school and my mates would bang on tabletops and beatbox while I spat them and freestyled and made gay jokes about the headmaster, etc. My whole project since coming to uni has been to persuade all these literary herbal-tea ski-holiday taste-the-difference types in the southwest that rap is a valid literary and lyrical force in our time, and in the absence of a major hip-hop scene, I use spoken word and poetry as a vehicle for that.

BM: How did you become involved in Bath’s poetry scene?

JD: A poet called Lucas Hadley headhunted me at a Creative Writing Social in Freshers Week, and recruited me for the staff vs. student poetry slam later that year. Then I met Anna Freeman, who I gave a demo of my stuff, which was all shouty and “fuck society” and strictly rhythmical, and she was like “slow it down, calm down, make it into a conversation between you and the audience, show them the positive as well as the negative”. Those thirty seconds were probably the best advice I’ve been given. So I followed these third and second year students to a lot of open mics and poetry slams and just copied the shit out of everyone I saw, most of the best of whom were actually not students, just random amateurs who’d come up with stuff and brought it along.

BM: What comes with the title of ‘The fourteenth Bard of Bath’? , How does it feel to become part of the ‘Bard family’?

JD: There’s a funky purple robe and a chair with a naked woman embroidered on the back. You can get quite a few gigs off it as well. The whole thing is overseen by a pretty small group of old people who visit and perform at each others events. The cliquey-ness is quite frustrating, but at least they’re sincere.

BM: Has there been any former Bard in particular who has helped you out/ influenced you?

Master Duncan, my predecessor the 13th Bard of Bath. He was the first one in the series to go after young people and just average ordinary folks in pubs and bars. He’s manically busy at open mics and other events, and his poems make you wee yourself laughing. He’s helped me out with perfecting my shows and is generally a good mate, since like me he is a bit of a dick as well.

BM: What do you intend to do with your title?

JD: Not sure yet. I’m hoping to put some kind of open air event together in summer. I’m gonna be in Hammer and Tongue’s Bath Slam final in either May or June, but more than anything I’m gonna try and travel around the UK and spread the love. All the celtic shamany stuff aside, I think people can really dig spoken word when it’s done right. I’ve seen it sell out theatres and make people cry. I met this one Irish guy outside a gig in Bristol who said I’d given him hope. If that’s not a reason to keep at it, nothing is.

BM: How do you feel about Bath/Bath Spa University? What do you plan on doing after you graduate?

JD: The Creative Writing course is a bit of a waste of time, I wouldn’t recommend it to people, at least not on its own. But the campus is beautiful, as are a lot of the ladies, so it’s a great place to just chill out and study. After graduating I’ll probably just get a job somewhere and use my free time to gig, write, make music and so on.

BM: What current affairs really interest you as a young poet?

JD: I write a lot about generational status. I feel like an enormous amount of people my age grow up with no ambition, no interests and no purpose, get worthless qualifications at uni, and drift around until they die. I don’t claim to be the messiah or the shining example, but I’m part of a slowly growing movement of young people who don’t go to shitty dance clubs and go to theatres, gigs, cabaret and so on, which equates to more time using your brain and taking things in, which can’t be bad for the bigger picture. Also, the dumbing down of mainstream music is astounding. Lady Gaga can suck her own massive cock.

BM: What influences you to be creative and make poetry?

JD: Jokes and anecdotes are always a good touchstone, as you can build and put your own perspective on them. I tend to just go out and live life, and the thoughts that generates are, I find, the best kind of poetry, especially if they’re still knocking around my head after a day or two.

BM: What tips would you give any young person interested in getting involved in performance poetry in Bath or elsewhere?

JD: Write, read and see good poets constantly. Put Def Poetry Jam and Slam Nation into Youtube and watch everything there. Don’t be afraid to go out and do a gig on your own, even if it’s not a poetry dominated one. Open with a funny poem. No-one cares what you think, but they might if you entertain them and win them over. Memorize your work. Put good gigs over social occasions, even ones that might get you laid. Print out your work in booklet form or record a CD and sell it/ give it away at gigs. Keep it real.

Quick questions…

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
J Dilla

What irritates you?
My broken laptop and its associated porn withdrawal symptoms.

Favourite place in Bath?
Alexandra Park

Favourite film?
Fight club

Do you have a catch phrase?
“That’s gangster.”
I know, so very white.

What’s your favourite biscuit?
Chocolate Bourbons ALL DAY.

Favourite poet?
At the moment, Polar Bear.

Any regrets?
Not learning another language.

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