We had the chance to talk to John Cummins about poetry slams and also the upcoming Lost Friday event at the RHA. You can see the results below…
RHA Hennessy Lost Friday – by RHA Gallery – March 3rd
LIVE MUSIC: Bad Bones & Valerie Francis, SPOKEN WORD / POETRY: John Cummins, INTERACTIVE ART: Holly Pereira,
Many people may not be aware of the world of poetry slams. How do they differ from poetry readings? Is it closer to hip-hop?
In slams there are no pages on the stages, the poet is expected to perform off by heart the piece he/she is sharing. There is usually a time limit of 3 minutes max. Is it closer to hip-hop? Not especially, your voice is important though, to be able to bring the words to life on the stage.
You were the All Ireland Poetry Slam Champion in 2014. What does this mean for a poet? Does it open many doors?
For me it is all about taking part … sharing … I wouldn’t say it opened many doors but it did teach me how to lift lyrics off the page and to embrace the nerves/excitement that comes with performing.
When did you first fall in love with poetry? Was there a Dead Poets Society style teacher somewhere in your past or did it come later?
With hindsight, I can say that I fell in love with poetry listening to, and being soothed by, nursery rhymes as a child. The world over, in all languages, this is happening today before they get to the paper and pen. As a teenager I was caught scribbling at the back of English class, the teacher confiscated what I was writing. I was mortified, but then the next day she handed me back my scrawlings along with a book of poetry with dog-eared pages and told me to read it and to pay more attention in her class. The poem was similar to what I was writing and it revealed the world of poetry to me, outside of the curriculum.
This new event in the RHA features a variety of different art forms. Do you think it’s important to cross fertilize, so to speak?
Absolutely! Music, poetry, visuals, dance! What’s not to like in them? There’s something there for all tastes. Interaction is key and embracing the moment. Live performance is a shared experience between the performer and the audience.