Day 8 Old Fox with Robert Harding
Musings on poetry, childhood and inspiration from emerging spoken word artist Robert Harding.
I don’t believe any children naturally dislike poetry although I’ve met a lot of adults who’d say they do. As children we’re taught so much through poetry and song but, particularly in Western cultures, our oral tradition ends somewhere near the start of school. Ultimately we lose an appreciation for playing with words aloud and we are taught to exalt what is quantifiable. I was lucky. I grew up in Wales. Now that may sound overly patriotic but the simple fact is Wales has something England doesn’t: Eisteddfods.
Every St. David’s Day, schools across Wales hold a day long celebration of arts and creativity. In the months leading up to it children produce stories, paintings, models, pieces of music and, of course, poems. Looking back, it was instrumental.
It was my favourite time in the school calendar. It wasn’t until I left school though that I’d say I really started writing poetry for pleasure. My first job was working on a checkout and I hated it. I was also really bad at it. To distract myself I’d print off long blank receipts and scribble on them.
Throughout my teenage years I wrote intermittently, either when I was really happy or really sad. Nearly all of it is unreadable. My early twenties I wrote less. I let life and stresses get in the way. It’s easily done. I’d also grown an interest in writing prose but I seemed to keep stumbling with that. It was harder to express truths that way. It wasn’t until this year that I came across some ‘spoken word’ artists on YouTube. Mark Grist. Hollie McNish. Ben Norris. Harry Baker. It looked fun.
This time I wanted to write in a looser, more expressive style with the intention of it being spoken aloud. And I wanted to try and really work at it. For me poetry is just there. Like a tap. I don’t always read or listen to it (or write it for that matter) but when I do everything else fades. Poetry can be a real gift of perspective. It’s so much more than what we are taught to analytical dissect from text books. Its just people telling stories. There’s a simply beauty in that, always. I just wish more people could hear what poetry can really be.