This is from So What! ‘zine, their 4th issue, 1984.
This was one of the funnier bits I’ve turned up in my research as I’m actually in this ‘zine but had forgotten all about it. There’s also my mate Leigh (who plays guitar with the Ruts), Attila, Steve Winter and Kool Knotes. This page by Attila is good insight into what ranting poetry was.
I phoned Attila and asked him to write something for the fanzine because I used to enjoy the articles he wrote for Sounds, under the name John Opposition. If you read Sounds you may have noticed that his features have virtually stopped now and one of the reasons for this is that he wrote a 3000 word article on fanzines (which took ages to write) and they couldn’t even be bothered to print it. If Sounds is supposed to be a ‘street-paper’ then surely fanzines should be reviewed regularly, or perhaps they’re frightened of the competition?
Ranting verse – a name coined by Seething Wells and Molotov Comics in the early 1980s to describe a new form of poetry which has as its main objective entertainment, information and humour, usually in an oral rather than printed setting. Ranter – a poet who rhymes ‘comet’ with ‘vomit’, who is generally well left of centre and prepared to brave hostile and uninterested audiences to put across his ideas, and wins those audiences over. If you can’t win over a negative audience you’re not going at it the right way. Ranting is about communication, being funny, being political, taking the unaccompanied spoken word to places it has never gone before and showing people who have never trusted words before that they can be a great source of pleasure, enjoyment and information.
Ranting verse – a label, all labels are bad, pigeonholes stink, all positive, articulate, caring and humourous poets are good, whatever they call themselves. ‘Poet’ – a weird definition, someone who uses rhyme + metre: there are many self-indulgent wimps around who have given the term such a bad reputation that if I say I’m a poet to people who don’t know me they expect me to fall over when they poke me with their finger!
Ranters, poets, writers to check out: Porky, Peter Campbell, Swift Nick, Kool Knotes, Dino, Little Dave, Seething Wells, Little Brother, Benjamin Zephaniah, Tony Stowers, Ginger John and more. Many other people write good stuff but I don’t know about them.
We aim above all, to make POETRY a decent thing to write. Poets are, rightly maybe, regarded as weird and psychedelic beings by the majority o0f people – and that’s at best because most people don’t even think about poetry. We aim to change all that by making poetry accessible, by demystifying it and making it available. By showing the way for ANYONE to write and perform punk broke down the barriers in music, so we hope to in poetry. ‘Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people’ (Adrian Mitchell) This is what we’ve got to change. Any ideas, poems, contributions-for my fanzine TIRANE THRASH, the rantzine with the special Albanian bias-to me at 161 Spencers Croft, Essex, CH186JR.
Attila the Stockbroker