We're dedicating this week's Sunday Morning Poet slot to Brendan , who died last week. Poet Pixievic performed with Big Bren many times and has written the following moving tribute to him. We have also included a clip of Brendan reading 'Shopping' (which Pixievic mentions), as well.
The ‘Unofficial Poet Laureate of Brum’, Big Bren was a poet for the people. His unique brand of ‘loud, shouty’ street poetry was often autobiographical & it always hit its mark. Rather like my own scribblings, it is definitely not for the easily offended (‘Homoerotic Necrophilia’ anyone?!), and he’s probably best known for his ode to the perils of going ‘Shopping!'. Bren always said exactly what he thought or observed and sometimes just what he found on his ironing board. A quiet, shy, big bear of a man, he expressed himself through his poetry (or after a few pints!) and wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is!
When I first met him he’d been a fixture in the poetry & free jazz world for many years, entertaining audiences all over Birmingham with Big Bren’s Combo as well as a solo performer. What I didn’t know then was what a genuinely authentic, lovely & beautiful human he was.
Described as ‘the poet for people who don’t like poetry’ Bren was one of those performers who just did it, no pretence, no ‘performance’ just him & his big folder of awesome words. He propelled his poetry into the audience with such passion that the diction was often lost but the power and his point were never missed!
He was an essential part of Sunday Xpress with his co-host Jimmy Kennedy, inviting newbies and seasoned performers alike to share & hone their craft. I was lucky enough to perform my own unique brand of silliness many times & always loved that he never introduced me the same way twice! He told me it was my own fault for having too many names!! I was honoured when during a ‘break from the stage’ he agreed to perform at my book launch. One of my most memorable conversations with him (after a dram or two!) was trying to find a family-friendly way to say a particular word beginning with a C that I used in a poem, Bren remarked that I shouldn’t worry about it as I’d said vagina 11 times in the same poem & no one would notice ...!
Bren liked a drink & could be found in many of Digbeth’s finest drinking establishments. If you found yourself on your own at one of these venues there was always a place for you with him - sometimes just to sit in silence until he was ready to talk, other times he’d be straight in there with an observation or funny tale.
No stranger to mental health Bren spent a lot of time working with community groups, writing, performing & campaigning for the Arts.
This Poet, Writer, Musician, Actor, International Sex Symbol, & Professional Bull Shitter was a true Birmingham Legend & he will be sorely missed.
However in his own words ...
I’M DEAD, I'M DEAD,
I'M AS STIFF AS A BED
ALL MY SKIN
HAS STARTED TO SHED
GET INTO YOUR HEAD
I WEIGH MORE THAT LEAD
I'M DEAD, I'M DEAD, I'M DEAD, I'M DEAD
THERE AIN'T NO USE
YOU CAN NOT STOP THIS
MY BODY HAS SUCCUMBED
TO RIGOUR MORTIS
IT'S COME TO PASS
THAT I'VE PASSED AWAY
AND YOU CAN'T DELAY MY DECAY
SO HOLD YOUR NOSE
AS I DECOMPOSE
I'M DEAD, I'M DEAD, I'M DEAD, I'M DEAD
DON'T TRY TO FIX IT, DON’T TRY TO FUCK IT
JUST ACCEPT IT, I'VE KICKED THE BUCKET
BUT PLEASE DON'T WAIL, PLEASE DON'T CRY
THIS IS MERELY AU REVOIR IT'S NOT GOODBYE
JUST SHOVE MY CARCASS IN THE BACK OF THE HEARSE
FOR WE WILL LIVE FOREVER IN RHYME AND VERSE
(Memorial by Brendan Higgins taken from 'Contains Offensive Language')
So I guess we’ll have to live with it!
Farewell you awesome man of words, go give them hell wherever you go next.
Brendan Higgins aka BIG Bren sadly passed away on the 4th of January 2024 at the tender age of 53.
Our thoughts and love go out to Anna & Mick and all those who loved him.
Vicki Mac aka Pixievic