With titles like ‘A Killing Is Only as Fun as its Victim’ and ‘We Have Nothing in Common Anymore’, Nick’s poetry has a refreshing honesty and cynicism that can make you smile, laugh, get angry at stuff and plot to murder your neighbours, just because they never put their bins out on the right day. Nick talks about how he used to hate poetry, and we learn that lightening is actually sexual frustration, but only at G.C.S.E level.
Would you say your poetry has an aim, and if so, what is it?
If my poetry had an aim I suppose you could say that it was to gain some sense of catharsis by generally shouting at everyone.
I like that. Any advice for poets wanting to get into performance poetry?
Try as much as possible to get involved with what’s going on locally, which is what I’m trying to do at the moment. I haven’t been doing the performance side of it for too long, but from going along to open-mic nights I’ve got a lot more involved with The Cheltenham Poetry Festival, which has brought me to Wychwood, which has got me meeting people that run other events that I can go to and do more and more.
You’re a graduate of UOG’s Creative Writing programme. How did you find your first ever poetry workshop?
I always used to hate poetry. I always hated it going through school. And having to study it at G.C.S.E it just gets drummed into you that this means this and lightening means sexual tension and all of that kind of thing. I hated the whole prescription of it all. So I spent most of my time at university rebelling against poetry, and trying to subvert it in some way, but doing it rather badly because I wasn’t very good at it. It was about a year and a half ago that I just…there was things that I started to throw down that worked as poetry. I fell into it more than anything.
So what was the turning point then? Was it a particular thing you wrote or read?
Without going ‘boohoo me’ the event that happened was that my girlfriend of six years broke up with me after going away to university, and I looked at myself and went ‘I’ve done nothing with myself. I’ve got a job and that’s about it.’ And then things started to get a bit weirder with her and I just reacted. I’m not happy with this. Here’s a poem. [Paul takes a break from his composure to land a punch in his left palm.] So, yeah, that was the turning point where I felt the need to…I suppose vocalise my rage.
Well you managed to turn a negative into quite a plus there. Is there money to be made in poetry?
I’d like to think so. Not in the selfish sense of ‘I really want to make lots of money from it,’ but considering the massive boom in stand-up comedy in the last couple of decades, then there’s surely got to be a market for poetry. There’s so many people that you go and watch that are incredibly witty and entertaining and often a lot funnier and thought provoking than a lot of stand-up comedians that you see. But at the same time the more things you go to, the more you realise it’s hard to get people to engage with poetry, and I don’t understand why, but if I had the answer I would have sorted it and we’d all be millionaires.
That would be nice. So would you say your degree set you up for a life in writing?
Funnily enough, yes. And no. Since January I’ve been working in a copy-writing job which I kind of got on the basis of my degree and my interest in writing. Before then, not at all, and I joked about it being a bit worthless, but I’m starting to see the benefit of it, so definitely YES.
So you find you’ve got enough time to be a poet and have the job?
Yes. Essentially I spend probably most of everyday doing some form of writing. I go to work. I do writing at work and I come home and do my own writing. So, it’s quite a nice life that way.
That’s not bad, yeah. So final question, are you working on anything at the moment?
Yeah, I’ve just about put together a first collection, which is not meant to be anything grand. For myself it was kind of a ‘I need to have something I can look at physically and go I’ve done it.’ I’ve been looking at self-publishing and I’m getting there. I’ve got the poems, I think. And I’m getting there. Other than that I’m just trying to get myself more involved in a lot of the performance side.
Thanks Nick, I look forward to reading your collection.