Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Chloe Poems

Chloe Poems. Manchester Matt & Phred’s Jazz Café. 14oct04.
Chloe Poems is Merseyside-born and battle-scarred, dressed head to toe in gingham like a carnival ‘dame’ using words as fists, the bile-filled lyrical themes not so much near the knuckle as they are punch-drunk with temples newly indented. Transvestite performance poets may be few and far between but the frankness of the politics (‘The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock’, anyone?) will raise more eyebrows than the outfits, although the more personal material, such as ‘The Effeminate’, hits even harder in the gut. The staging of the poetry is striking, the body moving into shapes more in keeping with hard-edged rock, words force-fed to the microphone in a pattern the feet can understand. Vanity Project is a music fanzine, sure, but we’re interested in things that make you think or make you dance. Chloe Poems can do both with no instrumental backing. Skif

>Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in poetry?

I am Chloe Poems, gay socialist transvestite poet, gingham diva, radical agender bender and proud to be the Voice of Treason. I've always been interested in poetry and have written a lot of verse-based theatre in the past. Making theatre is very complicated, time-consuming and costly, so I thought "how do I make this easier for my self? I know, I'll bring verse theatre to a simpler platform. I'll become part of the poetry circuit." Not wanting to be just another poet, and realising that the poetry circuit could do with a much-needed shot in the arm, a splash of colour shall we say, Chloe was born in an explosion of gingham.

>Are you more performer than poet or poet than performer.

I want to strike the balance equally and aim to be as good a performer as a writer. It would be short-changing people to rely simply on my performance skills, without putting the effort into the language. For me, the two are inextricably linked. Language is the life-blood of performance. It doesn't matter how good the performer is, if the language isn't right it's only ever half a performance. I pride myself in striking that balance.

>Do you intend to shock with your poetry?

I intend to inform. There is a didactic polemic element that runs throughout my work. I'm aware some people find this difficult, but I deal in the truth. It is a sado-masochistic relationship, the Truth is my bittersweet master and I am its sweet and bitter bitch. The accusation of trying to shock is levelled at me often. I find the truth very shocking. Therefore Truth and Shock are undeniable bedfellows, and I enjoy more than the occasional threesome.

>Several of your poems concern the Royal Family. What do you consider wrong with them and how would you replace them?

To me the Royal Family are an ulcerated sore, an uncomfortable verruca, an indigestible meal, closely followed by embarrassing flatulence. There is nothing about them which makes any sense to me. We live in an equally non-religious age, so the idea of the Divine Right of Kings is now as preposterous as it is archaic. Privilege on such a scale is an anathema to any sense of democracy and must be stamped out and ridiculed. Why must we have a procession of unelected idiots as our heads of state? I doubt Andrew could even spell 'privilege'. I would not replace them. I would simply rejoice in their removal. I wish to be some part, however small, in that happening. Viva republic.

>Have you ever had any problems with audiences with regards to homophobia or offence at the royal/religious stuff?

Yes, Big Time. I believe entertainment should work on many levels. Simply because I wear a dress and perform in front of a microphone, it doesn't make me an idiot gay cipher, desperate to make an audience laugh. A small percentage of that audience see drag in a particular way, and I think the reason they are sometimes offended is because this drag queen is breaking all the rules and questioning their beliefs, in sometimes difficult depth.

>Is the pen really mightier than the sword?

I think it is, for the people who want to listen. Language is powerful and the roots of language are powerful. Tapping into that power, and making it come alive, is the duty of all swordsmen, whether they be poets or novelists.

>What’s your opinion of British performance poetry at the present time?

It's in a good and bad state. When it's good it's brilliant, and when it's bad it's boring. I believe a lot of current poetry, however technically brilliant, feels too taught and not as instinctive as I'd like. A lot of poems, however diverse, to me, sound like they're written by the same person. I think sometimes structure can be the enemy of meaning. Imperfection works because it connects. I believe there is a renaissance in performance poetry, but we must keep an ear open, as well as an eye, for quality.

>What or who influences your creativity both in terms of spirit and of subject matter?

If injustice were a Muse it would be mine. I'm inspired by the forgotten stories of the forgotten classes. I empathise with struggle and the rewards and miseries it can bring. The world isn't alright now, not even the Christian Western World. I feel it is my job to highlight this.

>Why gingham?

Gingham is the most socialist of fabrics. Its linear patterns weft and weave effortlessly to create a most substantial whole. Not one of the lines is more important than the other, but the pattern couldn't work without those lines supporting each other. It isn't about curtains. It isn't about knickers. It isn't about Doris Day. It's about Unity, Comrade.

>What next for Chloe Poems?

A national tour including 2 week at Oval House, London in March; following on from a very successful American trip, taking in Harvard University and New York's Bowery Poetry Club. As usual, I'll be doing my darndest to carry on my emotional mission to make the world a better place and be the forefront of the gingham revolution. Be careful what you nurture. I'm currently working on my new book and CD "How to be a Better Gay".

>Do you have any other creative outlets?

I'm an actor, writer, director, drama worker and recently played J Edgar Hoover in the Mayhew & Co production of Mania. I'm a Jill of all Trades, constantly waiting for Jack to come traipsing back up that hill.

>This is a music zine after all, so what are your 6 discs for a desert island?

The Israelites - Desmond Decca
Moments of Pleasure - Kate Bush
What Difference Does It Make? - The Smiths
Open Your Heart - The Human League
Firestarter - The Prodigy
Reward - Teardrop Explodes
and as a hidden track...
Santa Maria – Titania


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