Buddy Wakefield “Convenience Stores”
On Wednesday night at Cobalt Studios in Newcastle I went to Born Lippy. A night of spoken word, poetry, comedy with a bit of hip hop and Slam thrown in for good luck. The night is run by Don Jenkins and Tom Conway. This month’s was a special supported by Apples and Snakes with as headline poet the three times world Slam champion Buddy Wakefield.
Buddy is a force that I have seen before, the first time was in 2004 at a night I ran at the Cumberland Arms. He had been touring around Europe and arrived in Newcastle suffering from a severe throat and chest infection. Despite the cough he was determined to go on and we loaded him up with throat lozenges and he took to the stage and gave a performance I have never forgotten. He took the room by the scruff of the neck and made it his own. His performance was electric. Last night in Newcastle he gave us an encore.
It isn’t easy to describe Buddy’s poetry it is part spoken word, part story telling, it is his life written in beats and metre. His poetry takes no prisoners but his command of the stage does not leave you feeling alienated or sidelined. It draws you in to his world. It is clear he enjoys it, he feeds off it, it re-hydrates him.
When he performed the poem featured in the video Convenience Store every hair on my body stood on end, it was electrifying. I have been going to poetry events for a very longtime and you can get a bit cynical sometimes but poets like Buddy re-hydrate me as well. They make we want to be a better writer and make me realise I have a long way to go.
His three books of poetry have been combined in to one collection called Stunt Walker
Click here to get a copy of “Stunt Walker”
After Buddy left Newcastle in 2004, I wrote the following poem
Buddy can you spare a rhyme
He came coughing out of the waves of the North Sea
The phlegm of the journey rattling his bones
Blinking in the glaring spotlight
Looking across the stage and in to the interior
He saw the restless natives waiting
He had been told that Northern people
Were hard as cynicism and had eaten strangers
Swallowed them whole
Spat their eyes out, clean as morning
He planted his feet deep in their earth
Rooted like a Joshua tree
Filling his lungs with the vapour of lozenges
He gripped perfection by the throat
Shaking his juju in front of the faces
That peered at him through the smoke
He fired his first salvo across their bows
To the sound of tearing timber
Clawing at the red stained walls
Fusillade after fusillade crack the air like thunder
Soon, they danced the hornpipe to his tune
They were his now
They were his children
©Jeff Price Monday, 06 December 2004