Barbara Brownskirt reveals all on her “complex, womb-y, epic” new poetry
Danielle Mustarde chats to the self-appointed "Poet Laurete of Penge"
DIVA: Hello Barbara, thanks for chatting to DIVA about your brand new poetry show at Camden People's Theatre. First off, how would you describe your poetry in a nutshell? For those who haven't heard it?
BARBARA BROWNSKIRT: “A-LINE, COMPLEX, WOMB-Y, EPIC.”
So far I have written 22 volumes of poetry. The publishers are still ignoring me but not for long.
What’s at the heart of your poetry?
My poems are a response to the patriarchy who I see as being headed by Jeremy Clarkson. But, us womb-men are rising up and I believe poetry is as powerful as mushroom spores, and mine are part of the fungal-like spread of a South London poetry revolution.
That’s… powerful. How did you get into poetry?
At aged 10 and a month I'd finally saved up enough pocket money to buy a Casio organ and as soon as I'd purchased it from Argos in Bromley I started composing song-like poetry. I entered Saturday Superstore Superstar Competition with a poem about Janet Ellis, the presenter from Blue Peter, and the night the Blue Peter garden got trashed by vandals. I didn't win the contest - a boy magician with a big forehead did - but I can see I'm lucky because by the age of 11 I'd realised my vocation, Poet; so ultimately I've won anyway.
How inspiring… Speaking of which, who is your biggest inspiration?
Both my Mummy Julia Brown and Dame Judi Dench in equal parts. This duo continue to dominate my life and dreams and create not entirely unenjoyable night sweats.
What do you hope people will take from your poetry?
I'm not about giving. Poetry isn't a charity. But people can buy a Penge Poetry fridge magnet at the upcoming show.
And what's your new show all about - what can your fans expect?
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Barbara Brownskirt. is both a love AND a complaint letter to London. It's about being a poor lesbian poet in Penge, my mummy, my ex Susan, and writers such as Virginia Woolf, Kate Tempest but not Claire Balding. It's about who I am and where I come from. Expect existentialism. Expect poems about menstruation and being irritable and being let down and how my Epic poem is still not finished even after four years in the writing. Expect Judi Dench done three ways and films, passion and more passionate thought-provoking poems. Expect pop socks, cagoules and the fact that you will exit the theatre wanting not to leave, but to remain. (This show does not include any Brexit references).
Only reading DIVA online? You're missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It's pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.