Jon Sands and Ken Arkind get Mouthy…

25 Feb

So Friday, we had some more visitors to Mouthy… Debs had stayed with someone during her US trip, who knew a pair of poets (a brace? a duo?) due to tour the UK early this year- so she set up a day in Nottingham, so Mouthy could get to meet them.

Jon Sands looks like an American should look, straight off the telly, when he talks it is loud and clear and enthusiastic and passionate. His sidekick, Ken Arkind, drew attention to the salmon coloured shirt he (Jon) was wearing on more than one occasion – Ken, by contrast was wearing all black, a beanie hat pulled over his unruly hair – he’s a cross between Woody Allen and a garden gnome, sporting an impressive full beard for one so young, and, I hasten to add, a well coiffured one at that.

These disguises, clean-living-straight-American-Boy and Gnome-man, may be enough to let them walk the streets unmolested and incognito, they even lasted during opening pleasantries, “nice to meet you” etc… but once they stepped further onto the carpet-tiled floor, took their place in front of our semi-circle of orange and chrome-designer-stackable chairs, once that space became their stage… and we became their audience… we saw (and heard) them for what they really are: thinking, feeling, screaming, bleeding, breathing, POETS.

It took me a while to tune in/out to/from the American-ness, it is another language, but one that has nuance and subtlety in different places than my tongue, one that takes passion in its stride and can rejoice and despair in ways my tongue finds difficult, or at least, not easy.

Jon’s poem for his brother’s wedding, an intimate portrait of two men in love, made me deeply envious because surely that’s what REAL love is? His rendition of the lady from Queen’s was a perfect example of ‘show not tell’ as he showed us through her own words the life she leads, and although I’ve never had a man who smokes weed, “that’s ALL he do” I’ve had men who do other stuff to the exclusion of living, so I can say, “I mean, that’s ALL he does!”.

Ken is like a spitting firework of a wordsmith, he delivered a poem written as a group piece “this is not a heart, it’s a volume knob” telling us “it is a weapon and can hurt people, their ears will not be ready for your anthem”. His poem to Los Angeles, called Maggie, was a spectacular epic which caused me to ask of Jon, “what you going to do after that?!”

Jon had plenty to reply with… the two of them are such strong, but sensitive wordsmiths, they seemed to spur each other on to greater things, louder and larger poems.

I liked their work, can you tell?

Anyway, Jon didn’t have his book with him to sell, as the publisher hadn’t sent it through in time to catch up with him in Nottingham, but Ken had his chapbook for sale. “How much is it?” I asked. “8 pounds,” he calmly replied. Eight pounds? I’m thinking. The robbin’ bast’d!
It’s just a few sheets of A4 stapled together! But I bought one anyway… I mean he’s an artist and all and Mouthy couldn’t pay them for their time beyond the £2 workshop tickets… he’s got to live after all and we are artists too so we should support our fellows. And I got paid his week, so there’s money in the bank for a few days at least, till all the bills get taken out…

So this morning I’m reading it as I load the washing machine with odd socks and boy’s pants and the towel pissed on by the dog, and flick the switch on the kettle to make a cup of tea… I unfold the six pages of A4 folded in half and stapled into a colour cover “big electric victory” poems by Ken Arkind. And I think, £8? This is the best £8 I ever spent.


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