And now for something really, really different…

Megan Beech in performance, image from Flickr (unattributed).
Megan Beech in performance, image from Flickr (unattributed).

Megan Beech is young, loud, unashamedly intellectual and feminist. She is one of the freshest voices in the powerful spoken word or performance poetry movement, which is gaining momentum especially amongst young people in the UK. You may have heard of Kate Tempest and her audio recordings in Britain or Saul Williams in the US, one of the leading lights of slam poetry – which is like a sort of ‘dance-off’ for poetry. Megan is just as talented, though less well-known (so far) and I love the way she combines her bluestocking propensities with wit, humour and outspoken candour.

When I grow up I want to be Mary Beard.
A classy, classic, classicist,
intellectually revered.
Wickedly wonderful and wise,
full to brim with life…

Although this is poetry to be heard rather than read on the page, I’ve had ot make do with this slim volume of poetry entitled When I Grow Up I Want to be Mary Beard, published by Burning Eye Books in 2013. There is something clearly declamatory and more direct in this kind of poetry than the one I am used to reading. So much depends on the personality of the poet, I suppose, how they ‘perform’ the poem. It is also much more political – a form of protest poetry.

So sit down, retire your reckless, restless rhetoric
and actually start listening.
Make some decisions.
Sort out the system.
Or better yet,
give me a Britain that’s actually Great
and not this state that I live in.

Portrait from thepoetrysociety.org.uk
Portrait from thepoetrysociety.org.uk

However, although it looks artless and ranting, spoken word poetry is also carefully planned and balanced, it has to sound just right, there are internal rhymes, puns and word plays. The rage and indignation are carefully controlled and edited – yet still ring true and raw.

The charm of fearless youth is that there is no subject that is off-limits. Michael Gove,  rowdy students, negligent parents, Easyjet, a boyfriend with widely differing musical tastes, Harry Potter and a couple snogging on the Circle Line are all targets of her barbed wit. I particularly enjoyed the rant about ‘Behind Every Great Christmas There Is Mum’:

…it seems crazy we’re embracing
misogynistic depiction presented by ASDA-ian dictum,
whereby women must be prim, proper and Christian,
and only give birth to children
in order to spend Christmas in the kitchen.
Having no sense of own volition
under patriarchal systems
which are clearly non-existent.
While her family insist on
a swell of patronising applause
which only stands to reinforce
subservient slave is her dictionary definition.

I can’t wait to see what Megan Beech does next. I hope she doesn’t lose her wild streak and continues to expand her subject matter. You can see Megan in action in one of the videos featured on her website.

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8 thoughts on “And now for something really, really different…”

  1. What an interesting medium – spoken poetry. I’ve heard a bit of it, but by no means any kind of knowledgeable about it. She’s got some innovative, bold ideas, and it’ll be interesting to see what her next steps will be. Thanks, Marina Sofia.

    1. It’s an area I’m keen to explore further – like you, I don’t know much about it. I also want to try it out myself, although I’m a bit shy still.

  2. I’ve come across some brilliant slam poetry in South Africa, but it’s something I haven’t thought about in a long time. This woman sounds great, I’ll be following her!

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