It was early in my life that I developed a mad love for poetry. I can remember exactly the first time I truly read a poem (Eugenio Montale’s “La casa dei doganieri”) and the feeling that it gave me. Since then I decided to create my own “poetry moment:” a few minutes of my day when I stop, I abandon the world, I take one of my books (my poetry shelf is now a poetry library) and I read a poem. The feeling is still the same, even if my interpretations may have changed over time. This is one of the things that I like about poetry… it’s a pure art, that can change every time you look at it.
When I lived in London, I discovered a new generation of poets. I was introduced to amazing live performances here and there and really plugged myself into the words and sounds of the city, but it wasn’t until I returned to Italy that I heard about Andreas Grant. What I espied wasn’t enough, so I did some research: I read some of his poems and I saw some videos of him performing his own lines… I was absolutely shocked and amazed by his visionary poetry and his incredible performances. I found his art surprisingly dynamic and many of his unexpected lines are still in my mind. I can’t wait to see him during my next visit to London at “THISISNOTABAR” where he runs his performances nights.
Also, I found out that he is a vintage lover… and that’s when I decided to ask him for an interview to talk poetry and vintage!
TLC: Andreas, on my wish list of places I want to visit on my next trip to London there is THISISNOTABAR: you are the CEO of this ‘enchanted place’…can you try to explain why is it such an inexplicable place?
AG: What I’m trying to do is inspire people to break rules. At TINAB you are supposed to disobey and I think, at the best of times, people feel and respond to that. It started as a protest against the smoking ban and grew from that. Anarchy is a way of life, not a political statement. We are social animals, yes, but first and foremost there’s always going to be a little voice in our heads that says: ‘no’ and that’s more important than the voice of reason
TLC: What does it mean being a poet in the XXI century?
AG: ‘Nothing to say, no means by which to say it, still you must’
TLC: You give a lot of importance to poem’s performance: what does performance add to the word?
AG: I performed at a night called: ‘Fetish Aid’ once. A friend was there; who’d never heard me perform before. She said it made her want to puke. She was bulimic so not sure what that meant…all joking aside, there’s great poetry that works as text and there’s great performance poetry. I want to be somewhere in the middle. When you read it, you can hopefully hear the rhythm and when I perform it, hopefully it adds an edge. I like idiosyncratic performances myself and it’s got to feel real, even if you have to fake it…there’s clever poetry, as in all art, but I like to see some blood
TLC: What is your relationship with the past eras? What do you think we are missing today?
AG: I think we live in stupid times. We’re not in touch with our natural selves and devoid of our traditions and history. Take drugs – we used to know why we took them. Look at Native Americans and other indigenous people who use them for guided spiritual rituals. And sex. We live in the prudest of times and yet we talk more about sex than ever before. We’ve stopped believing in true values. Everything’s become some ironic mash. I can’t begin to tell you how much I despise postmodernism
TLC: Who are your favourite writers/poets of the past?
AG: The Russian revolutionary poet Majkowski is GOD. The stuff about the revolution is of course crap, but his other poems, inspired by a love for a married woman he can’t have (which I totally can relate to) are astounding. Dylan is a great poet and the Beat poets for attitude. And of course the original beat – Whitman
TLC: Do you like music? Is it inspirational for your writing?
AG: I don’t listen to music. I find it disturbing. I mean I rarely listen to music at home. I usually get inspired when I’m in a bar dancing though, which is very annoying. I have to stop dancing, run up to the bartender, and ask for pen and paper
TLC: Let’s talk about fashion: your style is effortlessly cool! How do you define yourself through the clothes that you wear?
AG: Someone once said to me: ‘a Jamaican man is only truly happy once he’s well dressed’ and there’s some truth to that. I don’t have A style; I dress as I feel for the day. For me, it’s important to express yourself trough your clothes, which doesn’t mean to say that clothes are important
TLC: You know that I write about vintage: do you wear it? Do you think it’s just a trend of the last decade or there’s something more in this discovery of the past?
AG: I come from a city that use trends as a way to hide insecurities and used to spend a fortune on having more and better brands then anyone else. I couldn’t spend all my money on drinking, which was a shame…that’s one of the reasons I love London: vintage. Here I only buy vintage and hope the trend never dies. Londoners seem very inspired by their proudest moments: the 40’s and Victorian times, so I think for them, it definitely has inclinations. But vintage clothes do carry a story; they have character, something new clothes lack. Being fresh is fun but having character is better
This is definitely my favorite poem of his so far:
“I’ve Abandoned Blood”
I have abandoned shoes
I can still walk
No need to complicate matters further
I have abandoned
They never kept the cold away
I have abandoned hope
Stung a bit, yeah
That’s a tricky one
It’s in the bones, you see
So I have abandoned bones
The fun never lasts
So I have abandoned fun
Now that’s a different story
I’m not still bleeding
I have abandoned blood
Want to know more about Andreas? You can find his bio and his poems here