Sunday, 18 July 2010

Q&A With York and London based Spoken Word artist - Rob Auton

Rob Auton is from York.

I first met him at a poetry slam where he was disqualified for using props – I thought he was a genius straight away and felt his disqualification was part of the act. Once you made it into my books as a genius you get a license to get away with anything in my world- a bit like Phillip Seymour Hoffman when he gets an unlimited arts council ‘Genius’ grant in the film 'Synecdoche New York'...

Rob Auton is from York!

He was at PoeJazzi recently and I took a CD off him. I loved the way it was packaged in a little cardboard slip, stapled together with a child like drawing of what looked like a whale with a beak and little wings – bless him.

The CD was brilliant – 21 short satirical poems and short stories–

“I can tell by the look of her cat that she doesn’t like cats
I can tell by the look of her dog that she doesn’t like cats”

There was also a poem about a car spotter.

“I am a car spotter, my favorite type of traffic is jam”

I call this genius and that might make me a dunce! Who knows?

Q. Rob Auton, how are you, who are you and should we care?

I'm OK thanks. I'm writing this in the heart of an Internet cafe in Walthamstow. Not a hot drink in sight. There is however a vending machine, it's full but the light is off. Does that mean the drinks are luke warm? Yes, yes it does. 14 minutes of my 50p hour have passed.

Q. Are you comfortable with being called a Spoken Word poet? Do you see yourself this way?

Are you calling me a spoken word poet? If so, then yes I am comfortable with it. Nobody has ever called me that to my face. My iPod batteries have just run out. So I can now hear the tapping of these keys, and people talking on skype. The guy next to me is talking to his girlfriend, I can see her, but she can't see me. Or can she? No she can't. I’m not looking again. They are having a private conversation, what better place to have it than in an Internet cafe?

Q. What’s your work ethic as a poet/ writer and performer?

If I have an idea, I write it in my notepad or into my phone, whichever is in my pocket at the time. If it's an idea that I like and it keeps poking me in the centre of my forehead throughout the day, then I will work on it when I get home, or on my lunch break. Sometimes things work on themselves, other times I've got to do it. I like the ideas that come like ready meals and I've just got to heat them up with as little effort as possible. I want to get as much stuff down as as I can so I can go back to it and see if it is rubbish or not. Is that an ethic? I want to put things in people's heads that are not already there.

Q. How do poets make money?

Working in art shops in soho.

Q. You run a night called ‘Bang Said The Gun’? Is it successful by your own standards and what would you advise on someone who is starting out their own poetry night?

Since Bang Said The Gun went weekly in February it has really started to fizz. I jumped on the Bang wagon after it had been going for ten years, by that time, the guys that started it had cemented the spirit of it to have real guts. We keep trying to build it and add things every week to keep it fresh. I think you have got to have the audience at the front of your mind all the time, you can't put on a poetry night for you it has to be for the audience. Not that I put it on, I help to put it on. I think it’s important to be part of a team of people that you share a goal with.

Q. What is the future of poetry? Is there one?

The future of poetry is the people who feel the need to comment on this thing that we have all been born into. I remember one of your status updates saying something like "a lot of people have died in the past, we are the small few who are alive." It's true you know, all the people who are alive now, it's like we are on the front of a really wide train powered by the past and we are all clinging onto the front with the wind in our faces travelling into the future. Say you had a black rectangle that was 50 meters long and 5 meters high we would be the yellow millimeter at the right end. The future of poetry is people feeling that thing of going, ‘YEEEEAHH come on lets have it, pass me that pen, I want to WRITE about this stuff that going on’.

Q. As a poet are you under-rated or more so misunderstood?

I didn't consider myself to be either until now.

Q. Is your poetry consciously outrageous or have I just insulted you?

I don't think my poetry has ever caused outrage. I got an old woman in a brief loving headlock on the tube after a large amount of Tequila, that was outrageous behavior that I regret.

I've been doing this for 51 minutes.

Q. Where do you see yourself tomorrow?

I will be in the art shop at 8am dealing with a Daler Rowney delivery. Tomorrow as in the future, I will be having ideas, seeing if I like them, then seeing if other people like them.

Q. Rob – your stuff is brilliant – you know that right?

My parents like some of it, not all of it.

Follow Rob on Twitter -

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