(With 3 of the best poets and best people I know: l-r Paul Fitchett, Lucy Ayrton, Andie Berryman, yours truly)
Last night’s Hammer and Tongue slam was always going to be criss-crossed with lightning from the emotional charge in the room. It was the first slam since the death of Davy Mac, the wonderful man and dear friend who graced the microphone there so often and so beautifully, winning the Oxford regional final in 2012 and finishing second in 2013. I’m still trying to put the right words together in the right order to compose my own tribute. Suffice to say there are very few people in the world I’d say I really love, and now there’s one fewer. And when Andie Berryman read his last poem, Conversation with a Rock, and walked away leaving a packed room applauding the empty, spotlit mic it was like that lovely impish grin lit up the room for one last time.
As the oldie I performed last night got a few updates both to tighten the structure (erm, to give it any structure at all) and to make it a little more current with the references, I thought I’d share it here. So this is the late 2014 version. I should probably introduce and contextualise it with the brief intro I gave last night:
“Oxford has a professor of Poetry called Geoffrey Hill.
Geoffrey Hill believes that contemporary spoken word like you’ve heard here tonight has nothing to say.
Geoffrey Hill is a cock.”
This Is Geoffrey Hill’s Poetry
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry stark bollock naked with its genitals stapled to the steps of the ashmolean
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry shredded into 95 pieces and pinned to the cathedral door
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry on so much acid timothy leary reassembled himself from spaceshit just so he could give himself an enema of it
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry and it’s got a gary glitter onesie with your name on it
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry meaning meaning layer layer meaning layer meaning meaning meaning meaning i don’t want to fucking rhyme because that has no MEANING
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry it’s been locked away so long its eyes have evolved themselves out of existence but that’s ok because every other sense has evolved to compensate and that’s why it’s so fucking perceptive
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry spread-eagled across the red tops for unspeakable crimes against, you know, that kid that went missing that no one can remember the name of but we all vaguely remember the photo and there were placards about how awful it was and we made memes of because the parents of dead children got some apostrophes wrong
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry as it would appear if they did a new domesday book and asked everyone how much geoffrey hill poetry they owned and what it looked like after the ground swallowed the bodies of eric garner and michael brown and still gleamed white with the glorious corpus of geoffrey hill’s poetry
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry and quite possibly at the end of the universe in amongst all the black dwarves there’ll be professor brian cox still banging a beat from d-ream and saying entropy is what happens when everything breaks down into a billion billion ineluctable sub-particular soups of geoffrey hill’s poetry
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry stark bollock naked banging at the door and it’s raining and inside the homeless and the dispossessed dance deliriously round a gigantic metaphor of nigel farage breastfeeding the baby piss christ
this is geoffrey hill’s poetry cold and alone somewhere at the edge of a ghost-town watching the lights go out one by one