The Po(e)tion is Pois(e)on

Since I started my Spoken Word journey, I’ve often asked myself

‘Why?’


Why poetry?

Why Spoken Word?

Why perform in front of rooms full of strangers, well aware of an anxiety disorder?

Why demand an audience, whilst chasing ego death?

Why?


I have come to realise that ‘Why’ isn’t a question.

It’s a driving force.

My work, as a poet, is about asking myself questions.

Formulating codes, algorithms with which to silence my monkey mind and meditate.


As a typically anxious person,

I often find myself asking questions.

What if A hates me?

What if ACTION B causes problems, and so on.


Sitting down to write gives me a psychological framework for my questions and thoughts.

It allows me a process for progress and time in which to use it.

In my very earliest work, it was often some form of catharsis.

Releasing negative emotions onto a page made them easier to handle, to ‘close the book on’.


The stanza-rhyme-assonance framing needed some consideration.

As a result, I was more carefully considered about the material, my thoughts and emotions.

Some of my work took the form of rhyming essays and thinkpieces.

I would focus on specific topics or concepts.


My poems on ego death (Ego Trippin’) and the power of words (Words, words, words) are two prime examples.

This is much more preferable than the rambling, confused essays that I wrote before.

They now had shape, a succinct form.

My more recent work, however, has taken a different direction.

It namely uses free association.


I’ll begin with a word and jot down whatever immediately comes to mind.

Often it’s associative, but sometimes it’s a running set of rhyming words, assonance or vague connections of a more personal set.

This feels, to me, a more honest way to write.

I’m not focussing on achievement, attachment or specific ideas and instead allowing a flow state to arise.


This flow state, in my experience, is very similar to an altered state of consciousness.

Connections and processes that weren’t immediate or straightforward to achieve became illuminated and wholly possible.

It’s almost like a waking lucid dream, an improvised canvas of information using a heightened view.

Rather than forcing some catharsis into a rhyme scheme or honing in on specific theme, my mind throws up what it wants and I connect the dots in a similar fashion.


It has shown me things I needed to move on from.

I wrote three time this way, and it threw up the same topic every time.

So, I accepted the topic at hand and tried again.

It was a very different result.


These are more reflective than any of my other work, in a truer sense.

I cannot control a mirror.

It is what I show it.

Because the pieces are written in an altered, hypnagogic, meditative state, the performance also errs towards that.


The synapses enjoy these novel connections and fire clean.

I re-experience the mindset I was in whilst writing and enter a trance-like state.

Nothing else matters but the present moment.

I am no more than the conduit for the words.


It is in this moment, that I become a paradox.

I kill my ego on stage.

I perform a truth.

My anxiety forces me to show off.

Strangers become known.

My friends become stranger.

I speak written words.

I become a poem.


Then I finish and this fleshy prison wraps back around the moment.

I become a fragile little man.

I say my thanks and disappear from the stage.

I avoid eye contact as I think about what I did to myself and the crowd.


I broke open their heads and poured in my cracked mind.

Jung said

“Only the wounded physician heals”.

I hope this is true.


The renaissance physician, Paracelsus, said

“Poisons in measured doses are remedies”.

Is using my anxiety to propel me, using the poison as a potion?

Is cracking open my toxic mind using the poison a potion?


Paracelsus used toxic metals as medicine and was a pioneer.

He died of metal poisoning, though.


Am I well-versed enough to be a doctor, a shaman?

Are my measurements correct?

What danger have I brought forth?

It could be a potion, or a poison.

I could inoculate, or kill.


There is a moment, at the peak of a performance, when the audience hushes.

Their eyes centre on you, hanging on every word.

Will I become their gallows?

Could my words kill, or main if used badly?

I believe so.


I feel a power, that I did not request.

I must be careful, but not become quaint or appease my fears.

The demons must be faced and made friends with.

The darkness must be illuminated.

Otherwise, all will be lost to our fears, and that frightens me.


We are both the boogeymen and the children.

We are all paradoxical, and must accept this.

Or we will not only be afraid, but confused.


I have to take responsibility.

Doubt is just fear with another’s face.

I cannot profess the ability to do this alone.

But, I want to be part of the vanguard.


Will the others find me?

Some have.

Yet still,

others hide.


Step out of the shadows,

wounded healers.

We exist for a reason.

Don’t let the potion become a poison.

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