I took two weeks off from performing. You’d never guess what happened! 

I had two weeks off from performing. You’d never guessed what happened!

It seemed I’d been performing every week since Christmas. Indeed, the last three months have been my busiest yet, what with the usual poetry nights and also performing with the Jocular Spectacular Roving Comedy show. I had a flying visit to Manchester, and I performed in packed theatre venues supporting Arthur Smith, Iszi Lawrence and Mitch Benn.

At the same time I was working on the proofs of my forthcoming collection, and busy writing my new novel.

Indeed, the camaraderie and jovial nature of the comedians I’ve been working with almost, almost tempted me to take that step into comedy which some performance poets have done in times past. But when the music stopped, and I had those two weeks off, I was able to take stock.

I became me again. Away with the spikey hair and the nerd chic glasses! Away with the tweed jacket and Converse All Stars! Hello to early nights and regular meals and sensible clothes.

I began to think about performance and what the finer points meant. I was able to take a step back and remind myself what performance poetry is. Words, expression, rhymes, audience reaction. And after a few days, my brain began to clear and new ideas formed. Thus began a kind if mental spring cleaning. All those ideas and half poems found their way to the page and I was able to work on them uninterrupted, without concerning myself about the next show, the next set.

I also got tonnes of admin done. Forms filled, emails sent, novel and play sent off to agents, publishers and theaters. I’ve got so much done.

But something else happened. Something weird. And that was that I completely forgot that I was a performance poet. Caught up in the minutae of my regular job, and then with the detail of living an ordinary life, doing the cooking, washing, dusting etc, the idea of performance and the prospect of doing so didn’t once cross my mind on some days. Which might be perfectly normal, except that when I finally sat down and thought about what I do, and what have done, it all came as a rather pleasant surprise!

Indeed, I felt a little proud of myself. It’s like I had a secret. It’s  like I’m a nighttime superhero, fighting crime. Well, fighting rhymes. And nobody suspects a thing! Even to this day, most of my friends and colleagues are completely oblivious.

Last night was my first gig for two and a half weeks, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I relished every moment I spent performing and I had a great time. I have an amazing clarity of mind right now and I don’t want it to end!

So what’s the lesson here? Simple. It’s good to have a break, even if it’s from something you love doing. And it’s great to lead a secret second life! 

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