Yay!

‘Yay’ is the title of my new book, to be published by Burning Eye, and my new solo show, both of which are due to come out in the Spring of 2021. I’ve been working on both of these projects for a couple of years and I thought I would explain what I’ve been up to.

‘Yay’ will be a collection of upbeat poems, most of which tell a story or deal with a very specific place. Some of them are a little bit silly, some of them are somewhat life affirming, some of them are downright weird! And all of them are comedic in tone. The whole collection has been designed to make you laugh or smile.

The collection was devised a couple of years ago when it seemed that the world couldn’t get any more depressing. Naturally, after I started working on the project, it then suddenly did! The book contains poems from In the Glare of the Neon Yak, and Spout, my two solo shows, as well as material from my new upcoming show which will accompany the book.

The show will be called ‘Yay! : The Search for Happiness’. It was written in the first few months of this year and I have begun the process of trying to learn the thing. Indeed, I have been working with a director, the wonderful Dr Maggie Irving, with some funding from Torbay Culture, and she has been instructing me in the art of mime, movement and body expression. Unlike my previous shows, ‘Yay! : The Search for Happiness’ will have no props at all, just myself and a microphone. So in other words, I need all the help I can get! The reason for this is simply that I wont have to lug bags and boxes of props all over the country.

I’m still working on the collection. At the moment I’m in the process of deciding which poems will definitely be included. And of course, new ones keep arriving. It’s a very exciting time at the moment!

I’m looking forward to getting the book and the show out there into the world. Fingers crossed, of course, that there will be a fringe circuit next year. But if not, I’ll find a way to bring Yay! to your town.

A pen fell down into the lining of my coat

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? :

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/a-pen-fell-down-the-lining-of&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 54: A pen fell down the lining of my coat” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 54: A pen fell down the lining of my coat</a></div>

I’m thinking of dumping Sherlock

Today’s daily poem podcast is about someone deciding to end a relationship with Sherlock Holmes.

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/im-thinking-of-dumping&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 48: I'm thinking of dumping Sherlock” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 48: I'm thinking of dumping Sherlock</a></div>

Arable Parable – On making out in a field

A saucy poem about the various things that can go wrong while making out in a field. For those who are that way inclined.

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/arable-parable-making-out-in-a&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 47: Arable Parable – Making out in a field” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 47: Arable Parable – Making out in a field</a></div>

Some useful tips for performing performance poetry at performance poetry performance nights.

1. Sit at the back. Don’t sit at the front. If you sit at the front, when it’s your turn to perform you’ll be performing to an empty chair.

2. Also, if you sit at the back, the audience will clap for longer while you’re walking to the microphone.

3. If you are a prop poet and you bring a cow to the stage, don’t point out that you’ve brought a cow to the stage, because people can see that you’ve brought a cow to the stage.

4. Don’t milk it.

5. If you bring books to sell, beg the host for a slot in the first half. That way you can sell books during the interval and still have time to run off and get the train. Make sure you can change a twenty.

6. If someone says they like your stuff, they usually mean it. Sometimes they say it so that you’ll automatically reply that you like their stuff, but not always. Sometimes they’ll say it because you were awful and they feel sorry for you, but not always. But most of the time they mean it.

7. I mean, I think they do.

8. I’m pretty sure of it but you’ve got me thinking, now.

9. If it’s an open mic, spell your name legibly on the sign-in sheet. I usually end up being announced as Rupert Graham.

10. If you’re performing haiku, for gods sake, we all know what haiku are, so you don’t have to explain what a haiku is. Syllables and stuff. The explaining is usually longer than the haiku. Sodding haiku. Same goes for acrostics and villanelles.

11. Don’t get rat-arsed.

12. If you’re using props, check for light fixtures and obstructions.

13. I mean, is it me, or do haikus always seem like they should be longer?

14. If you want to have a laugh while performing, make eye contact only with one audience member, then glare at them, give them the old state, really freak them out.

15. It’s not a competition.

16. Well, except for slams. I forgot about slams.

17. Don’t give away all your poem in the introduction.

18. If you bow to the audience at the end of your set, don’t bang your forehead on the microphone. It bloody hurts.

19. The long walk back to your seat is still part of the performance. Maintain your aura. Try not to trip over handbags. And listen out, because the compere might make some wise-arse remark about you.

20. Always leave them wanting more. Try to do less than the time allocated. The host will love you for it.

21. Make sure your flies are done up.

22. Sitting at the back gives you a sense of mystique.

23. If you really want to infuriate the host, turn towards them almost at the end of your set and ask, ‘Have I got time for another two poems?’ They will always be too polite to say, ‘No, sod off’.

24. If there’s a mic, then don’t say, ‘Oh, I think I’ll perform without the mic. Can you all hear me?’ The people at the back who can’t hear you won’t hear you say ‘can you hear me’. For goodness sake, use the damn mic!

25. Not everyone enjoys the phrase ‘this poem requires some audience participation. Let’s practice, shall we?’

26. But poems with audience participation get stronger applause because the audience is clapping themselves, and most of them are relieved that they don’t have to do any more audience participation.

27. There really is no subtle method in plugging a book.

28. I reiterate, if you’re using props, then check for light fittings.

29, Don’t hold a massive folder in front of your face while you’re reading.

30. Practice at home, time yourself, and aim to do less than your allocated slot.

31. Talk to the other poets.

32. Look for the following: a poem about a cat, a poem in which the performer uses the expression ‘You have no right to tell me how I must feel, how dare you tell me how I must feel’, a poem in which the poet turns on the waterworks halfway through, a poem about some Ancient Greek myth which you’ve never heard about but then everyone laughs knowingly and you laugh too even though you have no idea what they were going on about, a poem which finishes with everyone just going, ‘Mmmmmm’, a poem about being a poet, a poem with a modern cultural reference or metaphor which everyone laughs about and again you join in even though you have no idea what they’re talking about, a poem in which the poet does that strange thumb and forefinger pinched motion as it plucking a finely tuned delicate word from the ether, another poem about a cat. There’s no wrong way to do it, but give yourself a point for each of these!

33. Enjoy the whole experience!

Poem for a friend who has come off the rails

Today’s daily poem podcast is about a friend who has come off the rails somewhat.

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/videotomp31595319290691-m4a&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 38 : A friend has come off the rails” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 38 : A friend has come off the rails</a></div>

Where the hell is my train?

Today’s daily poem is about standing on a station platform wondering where the hell the train has got to.

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/late-train-wav&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 36: Ballad of the Late Train” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 36: Ballad of the Late Train</a></div>

Asking for a bag at the checkout in the supermarche in Paris

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/at-the-supermarche-in-paris&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 30: At the supermarche in Paris” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 30: At the supermarche in Paris</a></div>

Today’s whimsical poem is about asking for a carrier bag in a French supermarket.

New Croydon Tourist Office Album!

The wait is over!

Those rockin’ cool cats have done it again! That funky groove sound is back with Croydon Tourist Office’s new offering, Take It Easy With Croydon Tourist Office! While other bands may rest on their laurels, Croydon Tourist Office have been hard at work for eight years putting together a collection of tunes which perfectly sums up the zeitgeist. Can there by any more perfect accompaniment to the world it is at the moment than these happening tracks?

These eclectic offerings may have a fairly fluffy initial outlook, but there’s menace lurking beneath the surface. By turns life affirming and post apocalyptic, those crazy groovers have been hard at work, like scientists, perfecting each sonic nuance, and by turns, probing the human condition.

It’s a huge honour for me to work with Croydon Tourist Office. As a non-musician, music is something that has a mystique and a magic to me, and to hear what my fellow band mates seemingly pull out of thin air seems somehow miraculous. The songs on this album date back to around 2012, though some were new compositions taking advantage of the lockdown situation, music and sound files emailed back and forth from one musician to another. The core of the group remains Bryce Dumont, John Samuel, Max Coulson and myself, but we have had an array of other talented people join us.

You can listen to the album and download it from our Bandcamp page here:

https://croydontouristoffice.bandcamp.com/album/take-it-easy-with-croydon-tourist-office

Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with the Dalai Lama

I was playing Hungry Hungry Hippos
With the Dalai Lama.
He kept distracting me,
Manually manipulating the plastic balls
Out into the gaping hippo mouth.
His gaping hippo.
The red one.
What a wanker.

The cheap plastic rattles
With frenetic energy.
He’s winning.
He’s obliterating me.
The hunger to win
Comes from within,
He said.
And desire without hunger is meaningless.
And you are going down, my son,
You are going down!

His hands a blur,
His lightning reflexes,
Nimble and quick and precise,
And me?
I shouldn’t have had that
Sausage and egg mcmuffin.
I shouldn’t have had that
Chicken mayonnaise bap.
I shouldn’t have had that
Scone.

Before the game had even started
He’s turned on the table lamp,
The ceiling light, the bedside lamp,
The fluorescent bulb in the kitchen,
He’s turned them all on.
It’s all about enlightenment, he’d said.

He’s winning, the bastard is winning!
Yet still he gets a rockhopper penguin
To stand there and fart
Trying to put me off.
Farting penguin farting penguin
Pungent pungent
Farting penguin,
Geez, that’s rife!

Perhaps he’s not the Dalai Lama at all.
Perhaps he’s called Steve.
But no one called Steve
Can play the way he plays.
He’s a Hungry Hungry Hippo virtuoso,
He lights up the room,
The plastic balls zoom,
Tick, tick, tick, tick, boom!

Oh for goodness sake
Now he’s playing one handed,
Showboating,
The little plastic balls
Drawn to the gaping mouth of his
Cartoon hippo
With an eerie inexorability.
Jesus Christ!
He yells.
I mean, Buddha.

He’s not aiming at all,
There’s no strategy,
He’s just going for it,
But it’s working,
Even the farting penguin is smirking,
And me?

I can feel the hope draining,
My fingers are straining,
There’s four balls remaining,
Three now, the tosser
Has got another one,
This long show ceased to be fun,
I can feel every part of me
Starting to come undone
And now of all those balls,
There’s only one.

But he wants it,
The Dalai Lama wants it,
He clicks his fingers and in lumber
Four giant pandas,
Who lift up the table at his end,
And tilt
The last ball,
Gom!
Straight into the gaping mouth of his
Hungry Hungry Hungry Hungry
Hungry Hungry Hippo.

Next week
Next week
Next week
I’m playing Connect Four
With the Pope.

<div style=”font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;”><a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham&#8221; title=”Robert Garnham” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Robert Garnham</a> · <a href=”https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/playing-hungry-hungry-hippos&#8221; title=”Daily Poem 16 : Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos With the Dalai Lama.wav” target=”_blank” style=”color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;”>Daily Poem 16 : Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos With the Dalai Lama.wav</a></div>