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An Ode to Supermacs

30 May

(Dedicated to a friend who understands.)

O hallowed house of the greasy chicken snack box,

You haunt my dreams.

One reckless visit in Oughterard (its really a place)

And now I can no longer walk my city’s streets

Without fear of the fumes that waft from your premises,

Inducing cravings for your delectable products.

I once thought that you were only for culchies – fool that I was!

I laughed at them, flocking to your door

Past McDonalds and Burger King and other (cheaper) options,

Now I laugh no more, but salivate,

And long for the day when I have €7

And can buy another snack box meal.

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Deliver Me from Poetry Readings

25 May

I used to think that I liked poetry. Now I’m not so sure that I understand what poetry is. I thought that a poem was a piece of writing that told a story or conveyed a feeling in a creative way. I liked poems that sounded beautiful, that made me feel something, that I could relate to my own life, or that made me feel I understood something the writer had felt, seen, thought, or done. Poetry was one of the less painful things I had to read and write about in school, where I was introduced to some of my favourite poets. To me, poetry was something to read and think about, maybe to share or recommend to a close friend.

Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero, http://www.rgbstock.com/gallery/lusi

However, I recently had the unenviable experience of attending a poetry reading that threw all my previous beliefs into question (how I found myself in such a situation is another story for another day). It started out innocently enough; an inoffensive-looking guy read a couple of short Irish historical poems – oppression, the famine, etc. Hardly an original (or particularly relevant?) theme but hey, each to their own. The next poet up to the mic at least made me laugh (although I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his intention). I thought his poem was actually quite good – a dry and cynical take on Irish binge drinking culture – but it seemed borderline farcical to be reading it aloud in a Dublin pub on a Friday evening! Suddenly everyone seemed to be shifting uncomfortably in their seats and nearly-full glasses were quietly put down. Needless to say the barmen were looking daggers at the foolish chap.

But it was the next one that really started to get me riled up. I had noticed her already, a large girl with tits like flotation devices on prominent display (I never promised a politically correct blog), thick glasses, and long blond hair proudly frizzed up into a storm (she must have forgotten her “I don’t conform to society’s expectations and standards of conventional beauty” badge). Up on the stool she went and in an accent that smacked of a comfortable upbringing and extremely high self-esteem (you know the one I mean…), warned the crowd that her poems were quite “rude” and launched into a rhyming two page ditty about a boyfriend obsessing over her previous partner’s sexual aptitude, with the “shock” finale that the previous partner was in fact a woman. A raucous cheer from her friends in the corner encouraged her to carry on with gleeful abandon into a poem that detailed sexual encounters with a wide variety of gentlemen in what I felt was unnecessary detail (not to mention unforgivably contrived rhyme). At this point, I should probably mention that I was in attendance with my parents and a small group of my mother’s work colleagues (again, the how and why are a story for another day, but its safe to say I will never allow such a situation to construct itself again). Things went from bad to worse with the next “poem” – I knew it was going to be rough when she introduced it as “a poem about when your boyfriend wants a blow job and you don’t really want to give him one”, but still wasn’t prepared for the detail in which she proceeded to described the process of vomiting during said act following seventeen vodkas and a Singapore chow mein. Did anyone ever really need to hear that information?

Needless to say, I was pretty pissed off at this stage. My mood wasn’t helped by all the charming individuals in the crowd who vehemently shushed anyone who tried to quietly engage in conversation rather than attending to the aural porno performance. But the icing on the cake for me was the young man who gave a ten minute introduction to his shitty and clichéd poem in an accent (yes, I make judgements about people based on their accents – take that, political correctness!) that was clearly deliberately roughened, presumably in order to lend him some street cred. He explained how the poem was about a friend he had known throughout his schooldays but lost contact with after the Leaving Cert because (direct quote) “I lived in Baldoyle and he lived in Portmarnock.” For anyone reading who isn’t familiar with Dublin (unlikely, but who knows…), those two areas are about five kilometres apart and well connected by good roads and several public transport routes. Possibly his implication was that they were separated by, [SARCASM ALERT] y’know, social barriers and stuff, cos his mate was from Portmarnock where, like, the poshies live, and he was from Baldoyle – well hard, y’know. Even if he and his friend were geographically or socially separated, as a friend of my own pointed out when I was telling this story, “could he not have just given him a text?” Either way, it was a completely inane and stupid statement – and this was the basis of the four-page poem to follow.

I could go on. And on and on and on. But words fail me to truly describe how enraged I was leaving that pub. I’m not sure exactly what made me so mad. Sure, being forced to listen to other people’s self-indulgent ramblings wasn’t exactly the best Friday night I’d had in ages. But I think it was the fact that they called it poetry, made out that they were artists and intellectuals, that really got to me. As if forcing complete strangers to listen to their literary endeavours confirmed their elite status as creative and non-conformist beings. Who the hell did they think they were?

Image courtesy of Roy Caruana-Clark, http://www.rgbstock.com/user/rccc

On the other hand, I have it on pretty good authority that I’m a generally intolerant person. Maybe I’m just a poetry fascist attempting to oppress artists whose work I don’t appreciate or understand. Maybe the other people who attended the reading genuinely enjoyed it, and my politically incorrect and highly opinionated ranting is completely unjustified. But hey, at least I have the common decency to confine it to my own personal blog rather than using a stage and a microphone to inflict my views on innocent pub-goers.