Tuesday, 15 June 2010

INTERVIEW: Saran Green | This is Poetry - Do not Panic!

Short. Sharp. Facts!

Name: Saran Green
Repping: Jamaica
Birthplace: South London
Lives: South London
Poetry Debut: Can’t remember
Awards/Accomplishments: Co-founder of Partnas in Rhyme, (Rum Punch and Poetry in the Park), 2005 Farrago International Slam Champion, Farrago Zoo Award Nominee
Likes: Art in all its forms, and food
Dislikes: Pretentiousness and Shellfish
Quirky fact about you: I believe in angels


ONiT! is excited to see that you're on the line up for This is Poetry – do not panic! By Apples & Snakes @ Soho Theatre on Wednesday 16th June. We’d love to hear your answers on the following:

Can you tell us how you got involved in this event?
Well, I received a call from the Programme Coordinator of Apple and Snakes who asked me to be a part of the show. I’ve performed and hosted for A&S in the past, and it’s always a pleasure.

We know you grew up on the beautiful island of Jamaica, but live here in the UK. What do you love most about London/UK?
What do I love most about the UK? It’s all the lovely people I’ve met here, and the appreciation and investment in the arts in general.

We know that you have been performing poetry for some five years now, both here in the UK and in Jamaica. Can you tell us a little about the two scenes – how they differ, if at all?
Hmmm, the Jamaican poetry scene is a bit dissected. On the one hand, it can be very pretentious, and on the other, very ‘conscious’. It just depends on the type of event and the organisers. In the pretentious arenas, poetry is deemed sophisticated and you find that those types of events generally attract those people who don’t have a sincere appreciation for the art/craft. On the ‘conscious’ scene, or other nights, for example, the monthly poetry night at the Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts, the audience is made up of people who have a shared appreciation and passion for the craft.

It’s quite humurous that this forthcoming event is called ‘This is Poetry – do not panic!’ Do you think that people find performance poetry quite a frightening concept?
No, I don’t think anyone would find poetry frightening, [laughs]. I think the only people who would find poetry frightening are those that can not recognise evolution of, and appreciate diversity within the craft. I don’t know who came up with the name, but to me it speaks to the eclecticism of poetry and of the artistes on the bill – it’s like they’re all very different, but they all come under the umbrella of poetry, so don’t be alarmed!!!

How would you encourage someone who has no prior knowledge of performance poetry to come along to a show?
I think I would have to begin by encouraging them to approach it with an open mind. Abandon any pre-conceived notions and just take in whatever show it is. They are bound to like at least one artiste.

Do you think there is a false, pre-conceived notion of what performance poetry is, and what you’re expected to be like, as a person, when you’re a Poet?
Hmmm, I don’t know. I suppose a number of people have their own opinions of what poetry is, and what performance poetry is. I find that exclusive page poets, are of the opinion that performance poets are wannabe’s who lack technique, hence rely on theatrics and gimmicks to express their craft, while at the same time some performance poets have a false and preconceived notion of page poets, as stuffy and boring - so to each there own, I guess.

Can you tell us a little about one of your personal favourite gigs to-date?
Oh wow, I don’t know, every experience is so different and enjoyable, but I suppose performing at my own show, Rum Punch is always a great experience for me, I guess because I’m so at home.

How about a nightmare one – had any of those?
[Laughs] Oh yeah, I don’t think any poet is without one of those. I won’t say what event it was, but there is a particular piece [of poetry] of mine that always seems to have quite a varied reaction, kind of like Marmite. The piece is called ‘Welcome to Jamrock!’. The piece was inspired by Damien Marley’s video of the same title, and the whole controversy surrounding it. The Minister of Tourism wanted to ban the airing of the video internationally, as he believed that it portrayed a negative image of Jamaica. So really, my poem is kind of a response to the Minister, and the whole affair. So, what happened at this particular event, a few Jamaican’s in the audience had a similar view to the Minister of Tourism at the time. I could feel and see the contempt as I delivered the piece, and after, one approached me about it… So yeah, that was a bit of a nightmare for me, performing and having people staring back at you with glaring eyes, not nice!

What has been your most inspiring moment, in terms of your performance career, so far?
It’s the response, and the love my Partna in Rhyme and I receive each month at Rum Punch and each year at Poetry in the Park that encourages me to strive for more and nothing but the best.

What has been your proudest moment, in terms of your performance career, to-date?
There are so many, it’s like a baby/child who learns to talk, then walk, then read, etc. My transition from poet to host, not only at my own events, but being approached by other people and organisations to compere. For example, Apples and Snakes in Soho that I’ve hosted before, which I don’t find very easy, but it’s becoming less difficult with time, and alcohol, [laughs], and also the success and continuity of Rum Punch and Poetry in the Park.

We know that you’re one half of poetry partnership, Partnas in Rhyme (PiR), can you tell us what it is that PiR do?
Partnas in Rhyme arrange and host monthly and seasonal, spoken word orientated events that incorporate other areas of the performing arts. We aim to provide a platform for new artists to showcase their talent and gain exposure, as well as the opportunity for established artists, to share and promote. We also attempt to gain the interest of those individuals who may not have a particular interest in such events, and moreso, to just bring the fun factor to poetry altogether.

Rumour on the street has it that you’re not only a performance poet, but that you also cite singing as one of your talents. Is there any truth in that, and can you tell us a little about your singing?
[Laughs], well, all I can say is one must never listen to rumours…but yes, I have been know to sing a note or two [Laughs]

What do you most enjoy about being a Performance Poet?
The appreciation of the truth and craftsmanship; the pain and the joy shared between the audience and myself, and the fact that it’s all me, and they like me.

Who would you cite as your influences, in terms of your writing and performing?
Ohhh, that’s a hard one. Various genres of music and other poets inspire me, both modern and traditional. My personal inspiration varies from one stage to the next, but if I have to be specific, I will have to say Mutabaruka, and Lorna Goodison.

If you could work with any other artist(s), dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
I would love to work with Amen Noir and Stevie Wonder – two greats!

Can you tell us about any forthcoming projects that you may have coming up?
Well, on
Thursday 1st July, we have the Rum Punch 2nd Anniversary event at Rudys Revenge in Holborn, and on Sunday 25th July, Poetry in the Park – the family-friendly, poetry picnic at Hyde Park (Cumberland Gate/Speakers Corner end).

Saran Green performing at ‘This is Poetry – Do not Panic!’ brought to you by Apples & Snakes, at Soho Theatre, tomorrow, Wednesday 16 June at 8pm
Tickets: £8 / £6 Information: 020 7478 0100 / Web

Further info on Saran Green:
Partnas in Rhyme
Stanzas of Saran Green MySpace

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