Poems on Gender

Nuance is hard to find at the Fringe. There is, no doubt, a place for wild theatrics, obvious gags and in-yer-face stubbornness. But in a tiny underground room aptly named ‘The Snug’, David Lee Morgan’s Poems on Gender carve out a space within the noise - and tactful thought becomes political lyric.

Painstakingly-thorough thought

Morgan’s words are challenging – at times, overwhelming. Whispers of change become cries for revolution. We watch Morgan think things through with the scientific method he expounds in the poem Believe Scientists. Are gender and sexuality essences? Can we live without gender, or is that like trying to “speak without an accent”? Has capitalism commodified the womb? Is it hot in here?

After a brief timeline of the upcoming poetry sequence, Morgan recites a dozen or so of his verses in succession. Little more than a number and a title bookends each poem. We speak at the end, and he explains the thinking behind this: 1) nobody likes a five-minute preamble for a thirty second poem, and 2) performance time at the Fringe gets expensive.

But we’d appreciate his words more if we had a moment to come up for air. Signposting the timeline at three junctions throughout the performance would serve the pacing, but it’s fair to say Morgan doesn’t want to make it easy for us.

Performance is understated. A swish of the hand or closing of the eyes inflects his words with the surety of decades-long experience. When he refers to us as “comrades” and gestures towards “the revolution,” we feel the age of Morgan’s poetry. Telling us more about his protests against the Vietnam War and the culture of the 60s and 70s would give this collection a context to better understand Morgan’s language: words tinged with subversive, radical hues.

Whether or not you agree with Morgan, his Poems on Gender give us pause, and space, and painstakingly-thorough thought. A challenge, yes, Morgan puts it well: “sexuality is fucking complicated.”

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Reviews by Daniel Pereira

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A series of poems on sex, gender and revolution by David Lee Morgan, a London, UK and BBC Poetry Slam Champion: 'There are two sexes, male and female. It takes one of each to make a baby. But what this means – what we make of it – has changed more times than we can imagine.' Reviews of David's previous Fringe shows: 'I am awed by Morgan's passion, his humorous yet enraged intellectual appraisal… ' ***** (Time Out). 'One of those rare, passionate performances... bristling with energy and interesting ideas' **** (Scotsman).

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