Why I walked out

I'm not a prude. Anyone who has read or heard more than a few of my poems will know that I'm not a prude. I'll use 'strong language and scenes of a sexual nature' where they seem appropriate, and some of my favourite performers do likewise. So why did I walk out half way through a show tonight?

I'd gone along to cheer on the lovely Cathy Bryant, and also because the gig was in a pub being run by Paul Heaton, of The Beautiful South fame, so I thought it would be a good night.

It started off well - the chap who was introducing the acts was friendly and funny, and Cathy gave a superb performance, despite not having been in the best of health lately. The poet who followed her was, in my view, rather more of a page poet than a performer, but interesting enough. Two down and four to go.

I suppose I should have been given some warning by the jokey remark our compere made about the next performer sharing a name with the beer in the Simpsons and having been on the beer all day. If the guy was drunk then it would perhaps explain some of his behaviour, though without excusing it in the least.

He began with a 'poem' (I use the word loosely) which combined all the worst qualities of sexism and sizeism. Because, of course, it's acceptable to attack women for their weight. The fat lass is good for a joke among the lads, when it's no longer OK to attack someone because of their race or their sexuality.

He didn't improve through the rest of his set. Words full of hate, every other word an unnecessary four-letter one, and a quite vile description of an unfaithful girfriend being anally gang-banged in a toilet.

All this might have been bearable if the audience had greeted this outpouring of vileness with the stony silence it merited. Some did. But a substantial part of the crowd laughed and clapped, some perhaps out of embarrasment but most with what seemed to be genuine enjoyment.

His turn finally, after what felt like forever, came to an end and a twenty minute break was announced. Cathy and her partner and I had planned to stay for the whole evening, but at this point we came to the decision that we could not spend another hour or more sitting in a crowd which could find pleasure in an act like the one we had just witnessed. It was too upsetting.

So, to the acts that followed the interval: I'm sorry we missed you, I hope you perform in better company next time.
 •  35 comments  •  flag
Share on Twitter
Published on February 03, 2012 17:38
Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Bryant Thanks for your suupport, and for this excellent article.

message 2: by Bron (new)

Bron Angela, thank you for supporting the fight against size-ism. I have a close friend who, because of a thyroid condition doctors seem unable to ameliorate, is very obese. Some of the things she suffers are heartbreaking. Even from medical professionals who should know better.


message 3: by Den (last edited Feb 16, 2012 11:24AM) (new)

Den i too was at this poetry evening , i walked out after mr duff insulted just about everyone in the room ..except his adoring public, some of whom were sat beside me and made me feel quite itimidated , one was a darkish smallish chubby chap who was with his two "mates"... a rather brutish man in his mid fortys with a pink shirt, i was quite overpowered with his "hi karate" aftershave , the other chap had the strangest hands i'd ever seen ...i wont be back , keep up your good anti-fatist work Angela....lovexxx

message 4: by Blumphy (new)

Blumphy .......most poets genuinely aren't poets....just bullshitters...a poet should be able to affect a person and invoke emotion with words.....now wot ever way round..mike affected fat girl with words (she said she was near to tears) when she was on mike sat talking...uneffected by her words.....so

fat girl 0
duff 1

message 5: by Gary (new)

Gary I wouldn't be offended by anything someone says in a poem but Mike Duff's stuff wasn't bad, just mediocre. I did think for a minute that the whole thing was some kind of spoof, "people's poet from Collyhurst" getting in the face of a middle class audience but I think he was actually trying his best. However sticking Manchester place names into a poem isn't going to make poor writing any better.

The most embarrassing bit for me was the John Terry piece supposedly a tribute to his brother but the narrative coming back to the author making himself the centre of the tragedy. It reminded me of Eric Clapton, when his son fell out of that window, he probably didn't immediately think "there's a hit song in this"...but it didn't take him long.

Not worth walking out for but if he'd been on first you might have wanted to get another pint somewhere else first.

message 6: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff hahaha this was a right laugh reading your commenets i thought my dad was excellent and so did many others even strangers wanted to buy him a pint of guinness so he couldnt have been all that bad. maybe you should all get out more often

message 7: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff gary, i'll be on at gigg lane saturday reading, at about half one, feel free to come and repeat your remarks about me and my love for my brother. I'd love to discuss the subject with you in some depth. but i suspect you are a cowardly bastard. i know nothing of clapton and his child but maybe it broke that man's heart when his child died and he needed to speak about it....and gary i am both a christian and a pacifist so you are as safe as houses

message 8: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff that's me, not kerry, by the way gary
michael john duff

message 9: by Mothman (new)

Mothman Poets and poetry are about human life; snot, shit, piss, spunk, love, blood. Poets are emotional creatures, cruel creatures, selfish sensitive souls who revel in the imperfection of themselves and the world around them. People we love die, and how we choose to express the emotion of that is our choice. Gary, how d'you have the gall to say of Duff, "but I think he was actually trying his best"? Have you read his books, Low Life, The Hat Check Boy and Yer Wot?

You fat friends ought to open those tightly locked ears once in a while, and listen to the sound of the sobbing, the catarrh in the throat of broken people, the imperfection of life. If you're a fat twat (like me) joke about how much you eat, instead of talking balls about thyroid conditions and your precious feelings. I'm amazed you were even in a pub. Sounds like a Tupperware party is more your speed.

message 10: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Bryant As Keir always says about writing articles: don't read the comments. This re. a book that a million people read, from a man who makes a living by writing, before the snipers snipe at him. Nothing like a bit of political integrity to bring the slimy creatures out from the stones, is there?

message 11: by Lre (new)

Lre One could say similar of writing poetry; don't read the handwringing blog-posts of the fainting middle classes.

message 12: by Den (last edited Feb 16, 2012 11:29AM) (new)

Den fao mike duff
i was there that night, your prose was that of a cheeky chimp, you made me want to vomit with your explicit and quite frankly desperate need to shock, i've met some working-class people in my lifetime and you sir seem to want to become manchester's professional working class hero ...you are nothing but a lout and are not welcome in didsbury ...

message 13: by Den (new)

Den Kerry wrote: "hahaha this was a right laugh reading your commemets i thought my dad was excellent and so did many others even strangers wanted to buy him a pint of guinness so he couldnt have been all that bad. ..."
well if he's your role model , you'll have no hope in life ....

message 14: by Angela (new)

Angela Blumphy, by your logic any playground bully who makes a smaller child cry with his comments is in the running for Poet Laureate. And talking through another poet's set is just plain bad manners.
Kerry, you can be excused for your obvious bias - you are young, and he is your father - but I do hope you don't grow up to despise women as he clearly does.
Mothman, I've never used Tupperware in my life and I probably know more about the imperfection of life than you ever will. Poetry can and should be honest and sometimes painful, but attacking other people just for a laugh isn't poetry, it's thuggishness.
Lre, tell me, why the hell do you think I'm middle-class when you don't even know me? Oh, I get it, I'm articulate, and am not embarrassed to display a reasonable vocabulary, so I can't possibly be working class. Which says a lot about your opinion of the working class, and nothing about me. (You're wrong, by the way.)
Michael, you should at least learn to set up an account. The rest of your sock-puppets have, so it isn't that difficult. I'm told you've written some good poetry. I'm sorry you didn't perform any of it that night.

message 15: by Mothman (new)

Mothman "I probably know more about the imperfection of life than you ever will."

Never assume.

message 16: by Angela (new)

Angela I don't. Hence the 'probably'.

message 17: by Angela (new)

Angela Oh, and - Blumphy, Mothman, Lre and Kerry, now that you have Goodread accounts, why don't you tell us about some of the books you read? Um - you do read books, don't you? After all, you have signed up to a website that's all about reading and discussing books...

message 18: by Lre (new)

Lre I'm afraid I probably read the wrong books too.

message 19: by Trippy (last edited Feb 16, 2012 03:02PM) (new)

Trippy Tarka Angela, you gave up the right to be indignant with your anti-anti fattist stance.
In an ideal world, hatemongers like yourself should be shunned, however I'm not one for discrimination myself.

message 20: by Steve (last edited Feb 16, 2012 02:58PM) (new)

Steve Duffy I should preface this by first saying that I wasn't at the gig, still and all, going on what you have written Angela, I feel justified to comment.

You are criticizing a poet for having poems about hate--really? Is hate an emotion that has been excluded from poetry, please...

I find it outrageous that someone who is a fan of the arts can be, in any way, supportive of censorship.

It takes guts to get up on stage, no matter what your words are of; be that love, peace, kittens or god-forbid plain misanthropic. Instead of staying and discussing your gripe with the poet face to face, in your "articulate" manner, you choose to go home and bleat to a computer. For shame.

The writer Kurt Vonnegut said "Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for art is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae."

message 21: by Angela (new)

Angela Steve, I had decided not to take any further part in this discussion, but your comment is politely and reasonably expressed so I should reply.
I probably would have spoken to Mike Duff and expressed my disppointment with his performance if I hadn't been more concerned about Cathy, who was unwell and upset. I doubt, on the evidence of the posts here, that it would have had much effect. *shrug* And I do know how much guts it takes to stand up on stage, i've done it myself many times.
I am not supportive of censorship, but just because someone has a right to say things which are offensive doesn't mean people need to provide a platform for them to do so, or that I have to hang around with people who do.
And now I'm out of here. Life's too short to let this discussion mess my head up.

message 22: by Lre (new)

Lre Was Cathy rendered unwell by Mike's poetry or was she already unwell?

Perhaps being unwell contributed to her reaction to the reading.

Either way, I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say I hope she's feeling better soon.

message 23: by Den (last edited Feb 16, 2012 03:22PM) (new)

Den Angela , please don't let these fiends grind you down , its people like you that i champion every day , these oafs wouldn't know a great poet from a chicken curry pasty or what ever is available at 12midnight from their local takeaway after downing copious amounts of horrible lager , please keep me informed of any more poetry evenings, i might be able to swing a few more punters to it , poetry is a great lunchtime conversation piece in the funeral parlour ..

message 24: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff mike again angela. your idea of 'free speech'...is the right for someone to express any opinion that you agree you with.

had you expressed your concern at the time angela, i would have shrugged and said 'every dart can't win a teddy bear or the fairground shuts down.

message 25: by Ebh (new)

Ebh look angela love, i'm a fat lad myself and i was at the king's arms that night. i heard all mike's poems and shared a pint with the lad both before and after his set.

let's be honest here, you and catherine of tarragon up there are mad at yourselves more than mike. you hate what your greed's made you. i know the pain, believe me i do. every monday i say i'll change, yet every tuesday i'm back in the colonel's loving arms. the colonel never judges.

mike's not the problem here, ange, he's just a man with a gift for words, a man who makes folk smile and occasionally think. i mean, who could really be offended by a man whose shoes are so shit.

come on lass, put the books and wham bars away and let's get through this together...

message 26: by Den (new)

Den my god , the most offensive set of ignoramouses that ever disgraced the internet, is it because of her sexuality that your boors are on the attack , is it because she'd wipe the the floor with that thing mike duff , you should all take a good lesson from angela and look deep into your souls and write something that even comes close to her epic "dont mess with the butterfly"... a sound thrashing is what's needed here , most possibly football fans such is the crudeness of your postings ...

message 27: by Si (new)

Si i think a point has been missed, duff got drinks bought for him. guiness even. so all you that have a thyroid imbalance, just up the anger in yer poetry and bingo free ale, fill you up and no need to eat. weight loss bonanza! take that thyroid

message 28: by Rhubarb (new)

Rhubarb I'm not entirely sure its a good idea to censor poetry because you don't agree with the content. It is an expression of emotion magnified to reach the audience. Like some stand up comics. You remove yourself from reality to laugh with and understand the performer, even if, in your own little world, you wouldn't make the same jokes or comments.

Also, it would probably help if fat people didn't put doughnut after doughnut followed by a Big Mac into their mouths day after day.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

A lot of chest-beating nonsense about a lot of chest-beating nonsense.

message 30: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff mike again

chest beating yer say robert?......if them girls woulda wore see through blouses i wunt have bothered looking through

message 31: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff its kerry.

firstly gary if you have anything to
say about my dad or anything about my uncle whos sadly passed away then freely email me you sad individual your only hateing because u havent got the talent my dad has so do us all a favor and stop being a big man and tappin away behind a keyboard more to
life eh? be a man.

secondly angela, in actual fact i think you quite a sad women why didnt you say anything to my dad after it no you run home jus to tap away behind a computer screen yawn, with your excuses ' cathy was ill' what kind of adult cries over a poem not like it was directed at her!
just before i leave just to let you no im 20 years of age there for classes me as an adult so i aint biast i just no my dad is a guines ...

Well done dad! xx

message 32: by Kripke (last edited Feb 18, 2012 12:53AM) (new)

Kripke Mike Duff is a turd. Do you know the best things about turds? You can flush the loo and send them to the sewer, where they belong.

You know the worst thing about shit? It sticks and it stinks.

I was there at Mike Duff's performance a few weeks ago. Since then I've been trying to wash off the stink and the feeling of uncleanness I got when Mike Duff opened his mouth and sprayed the audience with shit. Hate-filled shit, that half the audience wallowed in. Each to their own.

That's why I'm posting here. I want to draw a line under this. I want us all to draw a line.

Here's what we're going to do. There are two types of people posting comments here. There's the intelligent people. You can spot these people because they can spell and use punctuation. Mike Duff calls us posh but many of us are actually as working class as they come.

The second type of person commenting is Mike Duff and his associates.

What we intelligents are going to do is stop commenting. We're going to give Mike Duff and his associates the last word. I know. It'll be tough. But we've made our point, and Mike Duff and his associates have the emotional age and intelligence level of schoolchildren. All they're doing now is trying to bait us. And who wants to be on the hook?

Kerry -- I'm really sorry you're having to see all this about your dad. I've no idea what he's like as a father. I suspect there's a decent guy under all that hate. But some of his poetry should not be given a stage in this day and age. People like me will always fight back if he gets up and reads poems like that.

Mike -- It's clear you've got deep issues with women. Either keep drinking to keep down the bile, or get it sorted out. You've clearly got talent. Don't let the hate spoil it.

message 33: by Mothman (new)

Mothman Kripke, registered February 2012. Probably another one of Duff's cronies trying for closure.

message 34: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Duff this is the last time im going to comment as i have better things to then talk to u snobs who cry at poems (dont eat to
much cake then and u wont be fat being obese is self inflicted!) he cant be all that bad can he at gigg lane today & you no what around 60 people clapped and cheered! you snobs that go on about trees are so boring tjats why people were sayin ' how much more of this SHIT (not crap) before mike comes on' sorry but my dad was the best there that night! was drepressing listening to how u found a tree and how you found it fasanating yawnnn! im not a rude young lady but offend or insult my dad and i will be rude!

'theres only one mike duff .... theres only one mike duff'

message 35: by Den (new)

Den Fao Kerry and Mike Duff...
Your boorish and quite frankly ridiculous attempts to shock are verging on the obscene , take your awful poetry writing and get back to that working class hovel and know your place in society ..

back to top

Don't Mess With The Butterfly

Angela  Smith
I originally wanted to call my collection of poems Don't Mess With The Butterfly, the final line of 'Butterfly Girl'; while I am not entirely Butterfly Girl and she is not entirely me, there is consid ...more
Follow Angela  Smith's blog with rss.