Tis the season…
The late, great Ray Bradbury said: “I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, ‘If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we’ll talk.’ All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.”
And let’s not forget what the top drawer John Waters has to say: “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!” Quite right too, so if you’re after a bit more than Redskins records and gigs in pubs, and you’re after something to read on the way to see Brighton and Hove Albion, Peterborough United or Swindon Town then have a butcher’s at these…
Attila the Stockbroker‘s biography amply covers the early days of ranting, how could it not?, and follows his career, in which he’s not stopped gigging, up to 2015, and he’s still at it. It’s a lively and informative read and features a veritable who’s who of Ranting poetry.
You can get a copy here
Janine Booth was a Ranter in the ’80s who gave it up to be a trade union activist. Fighting the same fight but with different weapons. A couple of years ago she started gigging and writing poetry again and has become a firm favourite in pubs, on picket lines and also on book shelves. She has several books: poetry as well labour history, and worker’s rights. ‘Mostly Hating Tories’ seems to sum up her oeuvre well.
‘I Can’t Sleep ‘Cause My Bed’s On Fire’ is the debut collection by young poet Emily Harrison. She’s fast become a live favourite and is gigging aplenty. She’s got the political edge of the older poets with the vibrancy and kick of the younger generation (I know, some of us never lost it!) In particuar her work deals with mental health, but in an engaging, humouress and revealing way, that makes it easy to talk about a subject that for many of us is difficult to deal with.
Snap up a copy here
From Outside Edge, 2, 1986
Forget the Costa Brava, don’t go to Benidorm
They’re full of germs and foreigners, and our camp is just as warm
The air is really bracing, and hidden costs concealed
It really is all good clean fun on holiday in Sellafield.
The staff are warm and radiant, each one a bright young spark
And you won’t get lost at night time ‘cos they all glow in the dark.
Our magic moondust molecules will keep the kids at heel
You’ll have a real mind-blowing time on holiday in Sellafield.
The wildlife’s somewhat different from what you get elsewhere
But don’t worry, they’re not vicious; in fact, they’re all too high to care.
Now Lourdes is a famous pilgrim shrine where many a wound is healed
But there’s nothing to match the therapy that you get at Sellafield.
“The soil is safe” says Government mouth from the other side of the fence
“The fact that the vegetables cook themselves is just pure coincidence”
Our green fingered gardeners cultivate some leeks that make nutricious meals.
You’re sure to have the time of your halflife on holiday in Sellafield.
The entertainment’s just explosive, there’s thrills and spills and fun
Come and see our one-man double act prove two heads are better than one.
We really don’t like Greenpeace, we wish they hadn’t squealed
and spoilt our chances of luring you to a holiday in Sellafield.
The Big J, 1986
There was a fun time to be had at the launch of Attila the Stockbroker’s autobiography Arguments Yard.
The gig was busy and many gig goers of the Eighties, the decade that is!, met old friends they’d not seen in ages.
A crew of us downed a few beers and headed along to the Borderline on Sept 25th, 2015. Most of us were old enough to be talking about the Attila gigs we’d seen in our youth. Where did it all go?
Joining us was Oi the Poet, Garry Johnson. It was good to see Garry out and about. Hopefully he’ll be turning some gigs in in the not too distant.
Attila has been ranting for 35 years and the book is an invaluable record of ranting poetry and the musical and political landscape of the early 80s. Attila carries his story through to today, where I’m pleased to see he’s still ranting and beer drinking.
Attila read, as well as doing a set with Barnstormer
Janine Booth turned in some poetry, as you’d expect the audience also mostly hated Tories. Jeremy Hardy cracked some jokes as the bar filled. One time ‘zine editor, Colchester Utd fan Steve Lamacq DJed with some choice choons.
The Newtown Neurotics, as per, put in a good performance. It was especially good to see them and Attila doing Andy Is A Corporatist live.
You can get the book here.
On 2nd September 2015 we had a Stand Up and Spit exhibition at Poetry Library on the South Bank.
Tim Wells gave a short introduction to ranting poetry and he, Janine Booth and Emily Harrison read.
It was a packed house, and a mixed crowd.
You can hear the event here.
Our gifted graphic designer, Renee O’Drobinak, with some of our exhibition.
Big thanks to all at the Poetry Library.
From Blaze, 5, 1984.
This was the ‘zine edited by the Big J.
Mr Lock Up was the other Peterborough poet.
Ranting verse sprang from punk and reggae in the early 1980s.
This grassroots poetry was angry, political, sweary, boozy and funny – a predecessor of the vibrant spoken word of today.
Original ranters Tim Wells and Janine Booth as revisit their early rants and serve up new work, while young poet Emily Harrison is performing her own contemporary, sardonic working-class verse. Tim Wells will also be doing a short introduction to ranting poetry and an exhibition of ranting material will be on show. As well as some drunk ranters.
The evening is inspired by the Stand Up and Spit blog, which has been collating ‘zines, reviews and interviews from the heyday of Ranting Verse, helping modern audiences to rediscover this pre-internet phenomenon.
In association with Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions. Stand Up and Spit is funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Saison Poetry Library at Royal Festival Hall.
Please note, this free event requires a ticket. Please book your ticket by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
2 September 2015, 20:00pm – 21:30pm