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Working as a Poet in the Community

24 March 2008

'Interestingly (to me, anyway) it's meant that I've had to become three types of poet. There's the Slim Volume Poet: the poet who writes what most people think of as Contemporary Poetry, (but which is often not very linguistically adventurous, and just sounds like gentle stand-up comedy chopped about a bit, and which I try to move away from when I can); there's the Out Loud Poet who is called upon to perform at events where they need a performer who can be a bit of a battering-ram, who can enthuse a crowd who weren't expecting to like poetry, in the upstairs room of a pub, or in a draughty public hall at the edge of a windy estate, or on a train full of sweaty commuters, and there's the Occasional Poet, the poet who can be called on to write something light and rhyming to liven up a public event, to introduce someone or open a new building, and then (in my case, with the aid of my trusty flipchart and a couple of felt-tip pens) create an Instant Poem with the audience to send them away happy.

My aim, as a poet in the community, is always the same: to make people go away thinking 'Is that what poetry is? I can do that!' If you're a poet in the community you can't believe that poetry is a tiny precious vase that will break if you drop it; you have to believe that it's a robust jug, the strongest of all the arts because it begins with the sounds we make with our bodies, and it belongs to everyone.'

Ian McMillan in his article onThe Poet in the Community: A little adventure on 57 Productions' website, along with other interesting articles on poetry.