Joel Kelly, My name’s Joel Kelly – Mouthy Tour

6 Sep



2 Responses to “Joel Kelly, My name’s Joel Kelly – Mouthy Tour”

  1. poetclare September 8, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Joel

    I really enjoyed reading this. It’s amazing how evocative names can be – how much you manage to unpack from those two words. I particularly love the ‘Kelly’ bit which is really strong and full of wonderful family myths and tales. I love the men drinking the sea and bedding ‘their way away’ (which sounds wonderful, like something from a sea shanty). ‘Becoming husbands of mothers and building houses on coal’ is a fabulous line, it seems to sum up a whole community so deftly. ‘A Kelly can steal future forgiveness’ is a dazzling line too. And I love the surreal logic of ‘because of a cow we’d never vote conservative’!

    The Joel section doesn’t feel quite as strong for me. I found the line ‘Ok I guess I’m always bending my neck up now the miner’s helmet’s gone but how were those two brave twenty year olds to know that?’ a bit confusing. You mean bending your neck up as in ‘uptown’? I’m not sure that image really works as uptown isn’t up in the sky and it’s a bit complicated with the miner’s helmet too. It doesn’t really ring true that being called Joel has always made you (literally or metaphorically) bend your neck up.

    I also found it a bit confusing that you assert you were named after Billy Joel when he isn’t actually called Joel (that’s his surname) and your parents didn’t like his music.

    And I’m not sure about the list ‘Aladdin (which should have a double d), Ziggy, Bowie’ Bowie IS Ziggy and Aladdin so seems odd in the list. Surely it should be one of his other personas (the thin white duke??)

    The next verse has some nice things in it though – I like ‘the chord those four letters cried’ very much, and the secure feeling internal rhyme of ‘Joel will have friends. Joel is a sound on a bank statement, a handshake on a CV that is read to the end.’

    Questions: Is Francesca spelt wrong on purpose, as a visual joke? Why do you describe Joel as a ‘bloody name’ -is it not the opposite – safe/clean/good cop? Is it right to say you’ve ‘never been a Joel’ – why? Are you never nice or superficial? Do you never wait until 7 to have a drink!? Have you always hated the name?

    I like the idea Joel ‘waits until 7pm’, very funny.

    The stage name idea at the end works well. Playing with the ideas of persona and performance…

    My only other note is a visual one, thinking about the zine. This is generally what I’d call a ‘prose poem’ – it doesn’t have poetic line breaks – and I think that works fine. However, sometimes you do use poetic line breaks, (what we call ‘enjambement’ which means ‘running over’ so the line breaks come in the middle of sentences) eg:

    I was named Kelly after
    The men who drank the sea between
    Ireland and Scotland because they weren’t ready to go home yet.

    I’m not sure it works to use the odd line break like this in what is generally a prose poem. It’s good to be consistent or it looks a bit messy and undecided on the page. Personally, if I were you I would just get rid of this enjambement and have it as a prose poem, but it’s something to think about.

    Let me know if you have any responses/questions. Thanks for letting me read this!

    Clare x

    • mouthypoets September 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

      Thanks for your feedback Clare! I’ve been working on it and hopefully strengthened the poem in doing so. Ziggy and Aladdin(sane) are references to David Bowie’s stage names and personas (on top of stage names), I’ve added more to see if it makes it clearer. The spelling of Franquesca is actually how someone at my school spelt it, but yeah it could be interpreted as a visual joke haha! I’ve kept in ‘bloody name’ as I’m from the midlands, its just how I’d say it and I wanted to put bloody name (accent) next to name in my blood (family) in an almost nature/nurture way. I see what you mean about the Joel section and tried to rework it. Also I have removed the enjambement and gone for the prose style as suggested. It certainly looks better on the page. Here is the latest edit. Thanks again for taking the time to read it and give feedback. It has been very helpful!


      My name’s Joel Kelly.

      My name’s Joel Kelly. It’s a hard name for me to live up to. I was named Kelly after the men who drank the sea between Ireland and Scotland because they weren’t ready to go home yet. And when they’d danced enough circles, they bedded their way away from family’s with too many brothers and sisters. Becoming husbands of mothers and building houses on coal.

      Kelly. It’s a name that supports the roof but does not promise to support its own legs when Friday falls into Saturday, or Saturday staggers into Sunday, or Sunday collapses into a roast dinner that ‘took since before bloody breakfast to make!’ Kelly is a cocktail 8parts blood 2parts whiskey. It can not promise to be on time. But it does promise to nick some vegetables from the farmer’s field on the way back from the pub. A Kelly can steal future forgiveness.

      A Kelly is a man who can make, fix, and survive bloody anything. And that name landed on me like a miner’s helmet, bending the neck, shining a headlamp at the ground. So I practised digging in the flower beds, climbing on the coal bunker preparing myself to be a man. I got two feet closer to Australia. But then I hit concrete. So did my dad and Grandad. Game over, ya diner’s ready and because of a cow we’d never vote conservative.

      And Joel… As in Billy Joel. I was named after Billy Joel. The piano man with the uptown girl. My parents recorded that surname onto a birth certificate turned cassette sleeve inlay. They were fans of that one syllable sound, but not his music. They would tape over it with Ziggy, Aladdin, Halloween Jack, The Thin White Duke, Bowie! But I already had a uncle David. So Joel.

      Joel. They liked the chord those four letters cried and said them softly until I went back to sleep 3hours at a time. Joel. Joel is a nice sound to name a baby that doesn’t sound too babyish for when he’s old. At 5 Joel has been written in more cards than Christopher, Franquesca, Tiffany, because it’s easier to spell. Joel will have friends. Joel is a sound on a bank statement, a handshake on a CV that is read to the end.

      Joel. I don’t say it properly so a lot of people think I’m called John. And if I didn’t correct you I’m sorry it’s not you it’s me.

      Four letters to good cop bad cop with that surname. Joel. A bloody name that isn’t in my blood like Kelly. It’s a label, stickered onto my shirt for superficial meets, small talk, breaking ice. Whilst my surname would rather break ice into coal chunks and let whiskey run over them. Joel waits until 7pm.

      My name’s Joel Kelly, and like any name, it’s a hard name to live up to. But personally it reminds that I can’t really play piano. I don’t have an uptown girl. I’m not Irish. I don’t mine coal. I don’t even do a manly job. It reminds me that I’m 26 and I don’t have children.

      But there’s more to me than Joel and I’m not just a Kelly. More names than I know of went into making me. And I was nurtured by two fans of David Bowie. That’s a stage name. I tell people Joel Kelly is a stage name.
      Gene Kelly
      Grace Kelly
      Yeah OK
      Joel Kelly

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