An Old Dog Learning New Tricks...Like Rapping

Soooo ... no growling ... but for the last couple of years I’ve been working on a bunch of rap, hip-hop and spoken word poems. When I got to the end of writing Letters to Young People I realised that even though the poems had been written to and for the young people in the collection, in a sense they were in a style of poetry that represented my own voice and times. The kids were very polite at listening to them but it kind of turned the energy of my medical room into a small English classroom for thirty minutes. Which for most of the young people was a kind of torture!...

I knew the word pattern they most often listened to was in the form of rap and hip-hop ... so I started to think that is I was a self respecting poet them I should be able to crack the genre and have a go at talking to the kids in the voices they made most sense of.

Soooo ... for the last couple of years I’ve been an old dog learning new tricks...

I’ve been sampling rap albums and listening to all sorts…and tbh I’ve been bloody transfixed! The word play and imagery and has been fantastic. I’ve been pretty dazzled and humbled. And jealous.

And I’ve been busting my own rhymes trying to find a way to work in the genre. It’s been so much fun. It’s also given me the opportunity to essay more political themes in my poetry. That’s a place I’ve never really gone much I suppose, apart from always talking about the cultural coastline in New Zealand of course. Rap is ruthlessly political ...

So I thought I’d share one of the pieces anyway ... this one is about the impact human beings have had on the Manawatu River, which is just up the road...hope you enjoy it...

Now I just have to learn to sing and dance...

Click on the link below to read...

Letter from the Manawatu River

(for Mike Joy)

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