Performance poetry needs a new name!

Performance poetry. Spoken word. Slam poetry. Comedy poetry. Or just plain ‘poetry’.

It seems there’s so much variety in what we do yet I’m still not sure what to call myself when people ask. A poet? That doesn’t seem to explain the performative nature. Performance poet? Then I have to describe what performance poetry is. ‘Its poetry, but it’s also performed’. People quite rightly point out that all poetry is written with the intent of performance. Proper poets don’t call themselves page poets, now, do they?

It was late last night and I was thinking that perhaps there should be some overall term that might be applied to this strange art form.

If you go along to any spoken word night, you will see so much variety that it’s almost hard to classify what you’ll find. There will be:

Heartfelt rhythmic soul-searching poetry
Hip hop influenced white boy rap-a-like
Three rhymes per line just fine slam stuff
Dead pan whimsy
Comedy comedy comedy just a hint of rhythm
Droning ever so slow deep deep poetry
John Hegleyisms
Innovative experimental wordplay
Surrealism by the bucketful
Sodding haiku
Smarmy sincerity
Political rants
Theatrical monologues with elaborate hand gestures
Poems about cats
Californian beat-style plus optional beard
Shouty shouty
Pam Ayres
Memorised honesty

In fact the list could go on.

So, what term could be applied to all of the above? Is it worth even having an umbrella term for something so magnificently various? The average man in the street (actually I’m writing this in Paignton, where I have yet to meet anyone average), would probably class all of the above as ‘poetry’.

That’s why I suggest he term POPETRY.

This suggests elements both of poetry and pop. Because the majority of poets I meet aim to entertain and to spread a message in perhaps the same way as pop music or pop art. POPETRY is the way forward, ladies and gentlemen! Now that POPETRY has been identified as an art form all of its own, it can go from strength to strength and suck in new influences and divorce itself from the tyranny of poetry.

(Tyranny of poetry. There’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d write when I woke up this morning).

POPETRY it is then.


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