It has to be said that anything by David Lee Morgan (pictured above) is always worth watching I make this point as in my opinion this former BBC slam champion is a powerhouse poet whose words leave an imprint on the canvass of your heart. So it was with great relish I went to see his latest poetic production Love Songs And Poems.
Yes you have read that correctly there were no political polemics this year. This was David Lee Morgan tackling what I think is the hardest topic of them of all to do credibly in the space of a 50 minute show and not only showing that it can be done but it can be done with considerable aplomb.
David Lee Morgan is a man driven by passion and that passion impacts on all areas of his life committing him to the best he can be in every way possible and that applies to love just as it does to his music and his poetry. He started the show with a poem on the deepest passion of all unrequited love. Tripwire is a brilliant introduction to the show and to David Lee Morgan’s intense and thought provoking style.
This opening number shows the burning desire between two people who know they will be forever intertwined but also know they can never be together despite knowing each other in ways that no-one else ever will come close to understanding.
This was followed by the hauntingly beautiful poem Ghost, which illustrates, perfectly the bonds of childhood and Catholic Love in which love wears a stricter coat when administered by the church. These were followed in no particular order by Who You Are, Star Child, Field Research, Poem For The Ex, and the catchy and excellent song You Only Listen When I Lie.
I particularly like the opening lines in Star Child ‘The problem is you sparkle. You can’t hide your inner light. To me this conveys the message that the star child has powers she herself may not even be aware of. The power of seduction being at least to me the most obvious of these. I validate my comments by quoting these lines ‘Walk in to the sun and it shrinks. Disco lights do the same thing. Maybe I am wrong but I interpret this to mean that all else fades in comparison when you with the one who in your eyes shines brighter than anyone else
This to me represents Morgan at his best. With sharp well honed lines and excellent use of imagery, the man showed why he’s a master of his craft as he produced poem after poem of supreme quality which he delivered with such intensity that the audience would have to be deaf or living in a parallel universe not to be convinced of his passion.
Nowhere was this more evident than in what I regard as his seminal poem The Gift Of Pain. It is my view Morgan’s best work as he champions the cause of the oppressed and those at the margins of society by stating that what often passes for strength may actually be a weakness and what passes for weakness may truly be a strength. When Morgan performs this poem it is with a red raw passion which conveys genuine emotion and demonstrates the warmth and sincerity of the man
Morgan’s compassion for humanity is demonstrated throughout his work and in the poem The Pole he shows his anger at the crucifixion of Jesus asking when thinking of the cross ‘ How can they nail you to it?’ answering his own question with the lines ‘ But they did. You were so beautiful. Your blood as red as lipstick’ This is beyond doubt one of the most powerful and visually stunning images I have ever heard on describing the crucifixion of Jesus and the metaphor of lipstick as blood is one I find particularly appealing as it shows the passion of Christ for his people.
As a poet myself though not remotely in this man’s calibre I really enjoy hearing lines jump out at you and for whatever reason make you think smile or both at the same time. It is I think safe to say that David Lee Morgan has an abundance of such lines scattered throughout his work. One of my favourite examples comes in the poem Who You Are when describes the subject as being like ‘A child opening a rainbow. On the first birthday party of the universe.
This to me captures an aura of wonderful and miraculous excitement that the joy of it cannot be contained. If ever words painted an image of happiness then this was surely it and it was painted in our hearts by a true master craftsman of his art.
This craft can also be illustrated in Morgan’s poem Running Into The Wave. This was one of a number of poetic fliers I was given after the show which had the time and venue of the show on the left hand side a poem to right of it. This is an excellent form of advertising as it will tend to attract the right type of audience to come and see the show.
In this poem our poet takes a far more cynical view of love where he shows that sometimes compassion, goes out the window just at the time it may be most needed. This brilliant but disturbing look at the human condition was written at the time of the Tusmani in 2004 when because of the brutal power of nature sweeping all before them people had but one aim to escape that hell alive. Morgan describes what it must have been like to be trapped in those conditions as all you knew disappeared in front your eyes and in these lines sums up the idea of love as survival. ‘ Imagine you are the stock market of the world And that a million people can be swept away without causing a flicker of your ticker tape so long as they are poor’. This is love at its most primal as you put yourself first without a thought for others.
This is love in its cruellest and deadliest form. This is the love we all have but seldom use. This is however still love and we have to acknowledge its power.as one day we may all have to use it.
In contrast to the kind of selfish love Morgan described in Running Into The Wave, It’s Almost 5 am takes a more gentle almost serene look at the topic. This poem is written about the lover sleeping beside him at that time in the morning just before dawn breaks and starts with the lines Going back to sleep in a minute just thought I’d blow you another kiss. This shows love at its most tender and intimate and it illustrates a poet who is comfortable expressing the emotional side of his nature.
In the penultimate piece of the show which represented the final poem of night David Lee Morgan shows compassion for a friend who has a hard time in life in the brilliant Visit to Grandpa’s This poem illustrates the poet’s desire to help someone who is struggling to cope with the challenges they face and the difficulties those challenges have brought them.
David Lee Morgan concluded an excellent and breathtaking show with a song so powerful it brought tears my eyes and I don’t think I was the only one who will have seen teardrops on hearing this song. The story behind the song which was titled My Little Sister tells of a young man who wanted to join the U S army but one days his younger sister came home from school crying and he knew the reason why and when he found out who did it let’s just say the teacher got what was coming.
The problem was that being a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business and that included the jury and the judge. However, the judge and the townsfolk felt sorry for a boy who would never have committed a crime under normal circumstances and cut a deal with the army so he could join immediately and not have to wait till he was 18. I don’t know the name of the man concerned and I don’t need to. What I do know is he served his country in Vietnam and now a veteran told his story to a poet and musician the result of which is one of the most stunning songs I’ve ever heard and a fitting way to bring the curtain down on a virtuoso performance.
This in my opinion was a show that had everything. It had poems to make you think, songs to make you cry and more pearls of wisdom than you’ll find in a jewellery shop. It was with blood as red as lipstick I knew the gift of pain till a star child opened a rainbow at almost 5 am.
Love And Best Wishes