Pitiful poet can go street to hell

26th January 2007 at 00:00
A life in the year of Emily Shark

"you weren't in the meeting when it was decided. Sorry."

Yup, that's Melinda Sleam at her slimy best. "Sorry" tossed at the end of a sentence means its opposite. La Sleam just lurves giving out bad news. For three glorious seconds she can pretend she is head of department.

Meanwhile, the real boss never has to do the deed, so everybody wins.

Except lazy slacker Shark, who missed the sodding meeting for a sodding parent, and now has to give up lunch and a free period to sit with Year 9 and "Mistah Koolslam - master street-poet".

And I have just three minutes to prepare myself for this searing joy. Well, that is almost long enough to read this hallucinogenic publicity leaflet.

There aren't many words in it. Look, I'm an English teacher - I don't need acid-trip graphics to persuade me to read a whole sentence. Now, Shark, open your mind. You might learn something.

What in the name of arse is he saying to them?

"I am Mistah Koolslam and I am street. I am street and streets are my own mouth.

"Give me your children, "Let them be street with me, straight with me, "Open mouths of history.

"Mouth of mine is red like a sun. Sun sinking like red beans into the sea..."

Ooh, it's got similes in it, so it must be poetry. Why must I sit through this with a rapt smile on my face? I'd rather listen to someone being sick.

At least there would be rhythm in that. Well, give him time. Maybe he's got some good stories, even if he tells them badly.

No, sorry, he hasn't - that's just it. He keeps describing what he's doing but he's not doing it. He claims to be a "mouth of history" but he's told us bloody nothing about his culture.

If you were from Bermondsey and you patronised your audience like this, you wouldn't get gigs. This trippy little leaflet is getting pretty wild, though - all about slavery, cigars and ghosts getting nailed to silk-cotton trees.

"Your teachers sit in ivory towers "Far above my streets, "But I am street, So I see your youth, And I know your pain."

Clap, clap, and everyone looks happy except nasty critical me. I doubt that he knows the pain of youth better than all those lofty teachers who spend years working with it, not just afternoons.

"So, how was it?"

"Well, Melinda, I wouldn't book him again. He..."

"Ah, but if the kids enjoyed it... Sam, James, what did you think?"

"Crap. Sorry, Miss, but 'e was."

"Nah, Sam, he was shit."

Oh, you golden lads. You have learnt something about poetry.

Emily returns in a fortnight

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