I don’t know if it is a cop-out but for me to tell you what Toria sounds like, about the way she delivers a line, it just doesn’t seem right. The only comparison I can make, and I bet she gets it all the time is that she reminds me of Lol from This is England… Cos she was tough and direct and honest.
Toria’s the kind of poet you always wanted to be. You kinda hope that she’ll do your eyeliner and let you wait round the corner while she calls on Barbara.
‘She’s got the honesty of fresh air,’ says Simon from Siemens, who I shared a cig with outside during the break. I’ll give you a rundown of my favourite bits and you’ll be able to discern which poems she did.
It was a sort of autobiography in verse that began in the Subway and finished in HMP Hull. I’m thinking it’s all about the words, beautifully constructed contractions in that Wessie accent. The imagery is full of surprises, the forensic detail and a thousand past lives flash up in my head, as she fires line upon line, opening up her leopard print heart to the Humber Mouth crowd in Kardomah. The room is filled with electricity and I’m buzzing hanging on every word, every last syllable.
That line ‘toker’s etiquette’ she knows I got the soapbar reference. And I’ve been that wasted facedown in a stranger’s house, wondering how I’m ever going to get up.
The line from Little Flat in Ferry ‘long haired black eyed gypsy bride’ and Toria’s making rock n roll sound so cool and exotic, brit pop, indie rock, Pulp Fiction and Mallory Knox, I carelessly jot down Bard of Knottingley then wonder where Knottingley is.
Some of the dialect words and slang I don’t understand. Exactly what are ‘snags’ in the poem The Universe And Me? It’s the title of the new anthology published by Wrecking Ball Press in 2018. In a poem called Makeover about salvation and a precious moment spent with her wayward sister, Toria begs her to ‘take my tongue and let it make your choices,’ and it might be the most heartfelt line I’ve heard yet.
I’m not prepared for the weight of the poem Forgive, and she’s got me thinking about mending bridges and putting out fires. It’s funny how listening to real life poetry can make you feel all inspired inside to try harder and do better in life.
“It’s nothing like the poetry you got in school,’ my mate Tatty says to me. And I can see straight away Toria’s poems have spoken to her, heart and soul. There are people clamouring to cashpoint to buy Toria Garbutt’s new book, it’s pale blue with a cloud on the cover or is that a puff of smoke?
Buy: The Universe And Me from Wrecking Ball Press
See More Humber Mouth 2018 festival pics go to @Photomoments