Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Frank Thomas 'A Fresh New Poet Explodes onto the South Wales Poetry Scene' by Imogen Reed

Frank Thomas – Amateur Grammatics

Long-haired, beardy and slightly dishevelled, Frank Thomas takes the stage with an overwhelming awkwardness. He approaches the microphone with timid unease and mumbles something, almost under his breath, to the slightly confused crowd. This South-Wales audience doesn’t quite know what to make of him.

Frank Thomas doesn’t look like a poet.

In fact, from the look of him, you’d be excused for thinking that a local drunk had bumbled onto the stage with delusions of sobriety. He looks as though he can barely stand up straight and hunches forward with all the grace and poise of a half-cut rugby fan.

You probably wouldn’t trust him to sort your laundry or collect parcels from the post office on your behalf. And you certainly wouldn’t expect him to read poetry. But there he stands, centre stage with an entire crowd fixated on him, wondering when security will inevitably drag him away.
Except they don’t.

Instead, Frank rambles some more, muttering (almost to himself) about things that bother him. He gets louder and more aggressive and the audience are visibly tense. What the hell is going on? Who is this chap? Then the penny drops.

Poet? Or Something More?

The first rhyme hits them in the face like a wet kipper. Then another confirms that he’s supposed to be there after all. The rhythmic mutterings of a man who may or may not be on the edge of sanity becomes poetry before their very eyes. And it’s entirely disarming.

The strange thing about Frank Thomas is that this intimidating volatile character that he projects on stage takes the audience through an emotional journey before they even realise what’s going on. It’s a strange way to connect with people, but by the end of his first piece, the room is electric, buzzing with excitement. The audience is left completely blown away.

It’s this weird, unsettling experience that sets Frank apart from other poets. There are plenty of brilliant performers who will happily recite their latest piece, but Frank goes one better – He lives them out on stage for all to see

‘Gritty’ Realism

The anger in his face boils up with every outspoken criticism of the world around him – a world he sometimes hates. The sorrow in his eyes paints the backdrop for his poems of lost love. To say that Frank ‘acts’ this out would be a gross misunderstanding of what he does. You can see the pain he’s experienced. You can feel it with him as he experiences it once more for your viewing pleasure. Frank opens up entirely and lets every ounce of emotion out, creating a connection with his audience that you very rarely experience.

Watching Frank perform is a strange thing indeed – not just because of his unusual style, but because he gives you no choice but to go with him on a journey through his thoughts and feelings, taking the audience hostage with his charismatic ramblings that will leave you thinking about the world in an entirely different way.

Not Your Usual Recital

The wonderful thing about Frank’s energetic, rambling style is that it’s entirely fascinating - once he’s in full swing, it’s hard to stop staring at him. Spoken Word is always more of a performance than a reading, but Frank manages to take performance poetry to an entirely new level with a sense of ungainly urgency that will bend every crowd to its knees. There’s just something so honest and natural about the way Frank performs that you have to respect. He isn’t doing this to be ‘arty’ or trying to impress… he just goes out there to make himself heard.
In his own words, “it’s more about finding a release by taking the demons from my head, putting them on a page and performing them in hope to help people who have or have had similar feelings”.
If you want to see Frank in action (and it’s highly recommended that you do), he’ll be venturing out to Birmingham on the 9th of May for ‘Speak Up!’ – a regular poetry event, held at the Hare & Hounds. Otherwise, keep an eye on Frank’s Facebook page where you’ll find regular updates about upcoming gigs. You can also check out his YouTube channel for some recent performances and his website for the latest news and updates.

Have you spotted a poet that blew you away recently? - write an article about them/interview them and I'll post it here on Shapes & Disfigurements.

1 comment:

  1. Saw him last night at Jodi's benefit bash. Really impressed, like you say he's got a neat freeform kind of style. So much spoken word talent around right now!