Thursday, January 09, 2014

Mark Grist: Rogue Teacher ... and a bearded bard with diamond doggerel #OTL14

I’m not a fan of poetry. I don’t get the imagery. I value puns more than verse. Yet in the last week I’ve twice ended up enjoying poetry-based events at the Out To Lunch festival. Performers who can inject personality and humour into their work seem to get around my phobia!

Mark Grist was an English teacher with a passion for teenagers. He took a year off to pursue poetry and complete an MA. Along the way he entered and won a rap battle against seventeen year old grime artist MC Blizzard.

His one man show began by teaching the audience how to applaud the spoken word – a cunning move! – before Mark talked about his experience finding work as a freelance bard, that rap battle bringing on-the-hoof poetry and the repercussions. His tale was interspersed with seven or so poems, performed with gusto and without notes.

We learned about the delights of Peterborough (with its Ikea distribution centre but no actual store!), his advice to the chief examiner, red heads and importantly, why he prefers girls who read.

Mark’s hour long narrative covers a year in his life, displays his passion for words and teenagers came in equal measure, and has enough honesty and self criticism to keep audience empathy levels high while still being in awe of his superhuman doggerel.

Together with Hadski’s tasty beans and rice, another great Out to Lunch lunchtime event. And there’s more than two weeks of shows left.

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