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The Queen of all That Jazz Poetry rock star Hera Lindsay Bird sometimes makes me think of Morrissey when he meant something. Except she's funnier and she doesn't see things like that.

The Queen of all That Jazz

Poetry rock star Hera Lindsay Bird sometimes makes me think of Morrissey when he meant something. Except she's funnier and she doesn't see things like that.

by Ancient Champion, Columnist
first published: May, 2018

approximate reading time: minutes

Hera Lindsay Bird, "It's not for them."

Hera Lindsay Bird
Jenna Clarke
Hannah Swingler
Waterstones, Birmingham UK

Seeing and hearing poetry superstar Hera Lindsay Bird live is like actually being in the room and witnessing Mariah Carey's assistants lifting her glass for her to drink out of. It is simply that thrilling and exhilarating. And part of that is that while you've read the books and poured over the media, with a microphone in her hand, Hera Lindsay Bird has charisma to die for. I would die for a fraction of it.  And of course I hate it too. I always want entertainment this much fun to be accessed/accessible to a more massive audience, mostly of working class kids. The people I never meet on nights like these. Later, there would be a spark of a worthless debate about the validity of pop culture reference points in poetry and really, what's that all about if it isn't an arch way to censor someone who won't abide exactly by ancient and modern calcified codes. Oh the rules.

I once asked The Emergency Poet something akin to why it is that children love poetry at 4 and not at all at 14. She referred me to the then Education Secretary, a lovely part of the answer.  

Anyway, for some superstar poets these days, that means, barely 150 people show up to see you in a poorly air conditioned upstairs room in an otherwise less stuffy bookstore. Although my maths are routinely bad, That's It. It's weird. Now I'm going to bemoan the loss of the good old days when Klaus Kinski could motor around Germany in his Mercedes reciting his shit in soccer stadiums full of people. In black and white. No comparison yet I suppose. Maybe more like seeing Teenage Fan Club at the Jabberjaw. Next year, HLB, take the Town Hall.

OL's Meave drew me to Hera Lindsay Bird over coffee at the Why Not in Bearwood, and not that she's not persuasive but I probably would not have left my chair except I'd read that HLB's breakout poem was called Keats Is Dead So Fuck Me From Behind and that title sounded like something Morrissey might've written into the Cemetery Gates, so... Oh and then I read it and it was funnier than the title and real like that. And then I read HLB's so succinct squishing of the establishment view that poetry should not be shared on instagram. "It's not for them."

Why can't we all be so eloquent in the face of fuckwits.

The in-store was part of a world tour to promote her second, slender (and pricey but then my wallet is out of touch with reality) book, Pamper Me to Hell & Back (Smith|DoorStop - UK), and here's a link to one of the pieces which she describes from the stage as her most stupid poem, Bruce Willis is a Ghost. Of course its a great one that pushed and pulled me over the edge all at once and brought me to the show. 

Just Like an also Antipodean David McComb said, she has an aphorism for every occasion and it's all so scatty and jazzy...

The Q in the Q and A part was mostly risible and worse still, men, men why do they fill the stage with their big bodies and small ideas and rapidly tell us all about them, and add little of value to our knowledge of the poets. Men. They just need to insert themselves, Everywhere. My fingers grimace at the keys. It's perfectly nice and its been going on forever. I guess men can't let it go, can't consider "It's not about you."

I really wanted to touch on her hair. It's very straight. A man in front of me in the audience had hair, straight only at the sides, more dynamically unkempt up top. Good too. There was plenty enough shit hair do's in the room too though. Now I think about it.

Hera ended with the fabulously excellent Pablo Picasso tale, the Davinci Code, which you can read on her website here. Reading, great though it is, is not seeing and believing, so if you can ever see her, do.

Earlier in the evening, Hannah Swingler, totally great poems about goats in sweaters and romancing the apocalypse and so on, just delighted. Can't wait to see her again. Jenna Clake chose a piece from her from her recent book (name). And others all good.

Better after all than a great night in.

Essential Info
Hera Lindsay Bird Website

Ancient Champion

Ancient Champion writes for OUTSIDELEFT while relentlessly recording and releasing instrumental easy listening music for difficult people. The Champ is working on Public Transport, a new short story collection that takes up where 2021's Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere (Disco City Books) left off. It should be ready in time for the summer holidays. More info at

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