Interview with Resident Poet Alain English
We at the Tea House Theatre are incredibly lucky to have Alain English as our Resident Poet. He has been hosting his series 'Paper Tiger Poetry' for the past three years, and it takes place the third Friday of every month at the Tea House. He also performs in numerous events... well, maybe I'll just let him speak for himself.
I sent Alain a few questions, and he was kind enough to humour me by answering them as requested.
1) Please tell us your life story in the form of a limerick.
An actor called Alain liked writing
In between the times when he was acting
He had a great time
Using metre and rhyme
For the words and ideas kept on coming
2) What inspired you to join forces with the Tea House?
It was back in the summer of 2011. Harry Iggulden (the Tea House director) directed me in a workshop production of "Henry V", for the Lambeth County Fair in South London. At this point the Tea House had not even opened yet and we rehearsed across the road for our production, using costumes on loan from the National Theatre.
I remember having an almost rapport with Harry upon meeting him and a couple of months after the show, I dropped by the Tea House Theatre just to catch up with him. I looked round at the place with its location and its ambience and I thought 'this would be a great place for a poetry night'. Harry agreed with me and that afternoon we worked out the details - he would provide the venue, I would provide the poets. After some brainstorming we came up with the name 'Paper Tiger Poetry'. The night has been running for over three years ever since.
I will usually open up the night with a poem of my own or someone else's and then we proceed. The night is a mix of featured performers, who may be established or up-and-coming on the poetry circuit, and open-mic. In our open-mic, anyone can come up to the stage and they have five minutes to do whatever poems they like. Competition is not important here so much as freedom of expression. Our featured poets in the past include Anthony Anaxagorous, Kat Francois, and Paul Lyalls.
As well as running Paper Tiger Poetry, I also take part in other events at the Tea House Theatre. I have been doing their Burns and Shakespeare Suppers for a couple of years now, as well as contributing to the Fire Festival and St George's Festival. Most recently, Harry and myself have been taking part in Holdfast Theatre's series of Staged Readings, where we have done (so far) 'Beowulf' and Dante's 'Divine Comedy'.
3) How would you describe your poetic style?
I have been writing and performing poetry in London for nearly eight years now, and a lot of what I do is influenced by the spoken word scene around me. I tend to write about Asperger's Syndrome and mental health, and also other topics such as politics, science fiction and snooker.
Performance-wise, I have a theatre background and a pretty well-developed voice so I tend to go without a microphone and move around the stage, performing many of my pieces from memory. Here is a sample (VIDEO).
4) Is the pen mightier than the sword? Why?
Yes, the pen is mightier. The sword can only kill, whereas the pen can communicate, inspire, educate and connect with other people. The pen can do so much more. That is why it is mightier.
5) Tell us about your upcoming projects in acrostic form.
Sonnets, poetry and plays
Happening in April days
All attend our gracious author
Knight of literature and theatre
Entertainment and debating
Singing, dancing, celebrating
Playing all throughout the week
Engaging work that makes you think
Acting out the famous speeches
Reading through the soulful sonnets
Everyone come down and join us!
Flock to see our knights do battle
Exhale in wonder at their mettle
St George will surely win the day
Tea and cakes served every day
Inside the lovely Tea House Theatre
Vauxhall's hub of lore and culture
Accessible to everyone
Link up with us and join the fun!
6) Please tell us your life's motto in haiku form.
And mindful among others