My Worst Gig

23 September 2014

Poet and soon-to-be Book Slam alumni Chimene Suleyman talks us through her worst ever gig experience in a feat of management expectation before her show on 8th October...

It was entirely cliched: to pour fresh break-up into a glass of wine and write poetry from it. Only, it was really gin. And Lucky Strikes. And one sofa the colour of vulva that I miss more these days than anything else. So, it always seemed peculiar to read my work aloud. Given that I write because I am simply useless at saying. But stages came and went, and 'him' became 'you' and 'you' could have been anyone.

It would be unfair to say I started to run my own night, Kid, I Wrote Back, as a distraction, but it helped. It was five years ago, after all, and 2009 had it’s own sun. One which stayed low to the ground, and and and I am forgetting my point: Of course I imagined him in every room I spoke to. Under every pub staircase, or figure by toilets near a bar. And then he was. Though I can’t remember where he stood. Whether it had been beneath pub stairs, or leant up against amateur decks. It doesn’t matter, not really, for I wouldn’t read anything that night anyway. But three other poets did. Each, a poem I had written. Words I imagined he would hear. I suppose my best, and worst, performance wasn’t even read by me. Does curation count?

Of course we never spoke about it. The daggered stare said it all. It could have been, or felt, more self-indulgent. Only, he immediately wrapped himself in a bed-sheet covered in robots he’d drawn on with felt-tip. And put a cardboard box on his head. Really. I recommend this - ahead of poetry- as a far more efficient way to get over someone. But, if you must know, just to be sure, yes, you were right, those poems were about you. And if you happen to hear my words repeated again, know I no longer write to be heard like this. The cardboard box made sure of that.

See Chimene make her Book Slam debut alongside Laura Bates from 'Everyday Sexism', Salena Godden and Shami Chakrabarti on 8th October. Be good to yourself, avoid last minute panics and buy your tickets here, now