Forget flowers, chocolates or even a home-baked cake. Yesterday in Edinburgh, I discovered what I think must be the best gift one human being can give another - a personalised verse, delivered by the poet himself, on your very own doorstep.
This a poet not only of ability, but also of integrity
The poet in question - Rowan McCabe - roams Northern streets, randomly knocking on doors. And when he receives the nod - as invariably he does - he gathers some personal information and retreats for a week or two to craft these intimate nuggets into a verse. He then delivers said verse personally, performing it on the subject’s threshold. For his Fringe show, McCabe explains that, rather than just read out his work, he’s going to give us the story of how this all began and what happened along the way. So for the next hour, through the mediums of acting, spoken word and verse, supported by a flip board and location stills on a TV screen, McCabe relays his door-to-door poetry journey.
To begin, McCabe takes us back to 2015 and to the start of his pilgrimage of verse. Having decided, somewhat uncomfortably, to accept his job title as Poet, McCabe wanted to discover what this really meant to him and to others. So, he set off on his travels (with an Arts Council grant – small, but enthusiastically received) through streets desirable and not, forcing himself to confront his own fears and misconceptions. And along the way he met the good, the bad (but mainly the good) and the BBC.
It isn’t long before TV and radio hear of this unusual wordsmith and recognise the public interest and economic potential. But McCabe doesn’t want to be exploited or to exploit. That’s not what he’s about. This a poet not only of ability, but also of integrity. He’s earnest, passionate and noble, and yesterday in the Bourbon Bar his message and zeal came through loud and clear. This poet has discovered in his journey that, contrary to stereotypes, most people are amazing and basically good. As he notes in his piece about Amy the Trainee Police Officer, “We are all human beings under the clothes we wear.” McCabe’s message is true and it’s also a pleasure to the ear, with verse that ranges from poignant to witty and is always cadenced and melodic.
This is a beautiful set. McCabe is an entertaining and energetic performer, and his narrative and cause touches the heart. He undoubtedly idealistic and romantic, a crusading optimist for humanity and a warrior for good, he importantly also happens to be highly talented with verse.
The world needs more poets, like Rowan McCabe.