"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


How to be a terrible young poet

How to be a terrible young poet

Last night I made it to a poetry open mic night, and performed three poems to the two other apparent poets performing at the poetry open mic night. As well as three people that were unaware of the events schedule for the week, a man that i’m sure is permanently affixed to the bar and the bartender, who was only there because he was being paid to be.

If you too, wish to reach these dizzying heights, I suggest you follow my advice-  

Let’s start with the look: I’ve gone for a Herringbone blazer that I purchased from a posh-o antiquey shop, the kind that you find in cities where everyone conforms to being alternative. I have a black T-shirt that is far too tight, as I am unaware that I have been putting on weight this past year. This is coupled with a pair of black jeans that are also far too tight, allowing the outline of my penis to be seen at all times. My penis has not been putting on weight, it has in fact been shrivelling in fear since I last caught it in my zipper. On my feet I wear muddy brown army boots, these give me the appearance of someone that goes for walks in the countryside and considers life.

The Herringbone blazer and black T-shirt combo gives me the look of a burnt-out academic, when people see it, they assume that I have a piece of paper that says I have done the things to get the piece of paper (shiny bits and all). I have augmented this look by not sleeping, or shaving properly for several months. We then move down to the penis outline, this lets women know that I am unashamed of my penis - a trait of artists of all kinds - and that I am ready to use it at any time. Now remember, it’s important to never wear underwear, allowing your wobbly bits to be tightly pressed against the material of your trousers. During testing this look, I have also smuggled noodles in a tight green dress, and can confirm that it works effectively (and that my legs look great in a tight dress and heels combo). 

The muddy boots are quite important, because everyone knows that poets spend a lot of time observing nature, and juxtaposing it with their feelings. You can pre-mud your boots by going to your local patch of grass with a spoon and collecting a small amount of dirt. You can then carefully take it home (making sure that the dirt does not fall off the spoon) and mix it in a bowl with a dash of water, this makes mud.
Many professional poets differ on this next stage, but I personally use a masonry brush to apply the mud to my boots. Gently flicking it about the edges to recreate the natural splash of a muddy path.

This is simply an explanation of the look I have chosen, your may choose to differ. For example, you may collect road scuzz to put on your boots or wear a different kind of blazer.

Now that we’ve got the look down, you’ll need a few essentials - 

I have a number of notebooks full of illegible scribblings, which I carry around with a copy of the Divine Comedy (which i’ve never read). I have a fountain pen and an old tissue that I use to wipe away the single tears that I cry. I suggest that you collect similar items to keep about your person,  they are useful for giving weight to your claim. 

One of the more important parts of the whole facade, is the company that you keep. You can collect these specimens at your local bar or cafe, what you’re looking for is an eclectic mix of pseudo-intellectuals, artists and musicians. Preferably with posh names and bad drinking habits. 

You can usually attract these types by performing eccentric displays, or getting shitfaced and yammering on at the nearest person about how Bukowski is a boring shit bag of a poet (whether or not you believe this is unimportant, the important part is that you mention a poets name and express a strong opinion).

Once you’ve collected a few of these freaks - perhaps a sullen man that failed a psychology degree, and a gin soaked woman with an excellent knowledge of portraiture - invite them over to yours for six bottles of wine (that’s two each) and put the world to rights. A favourite trick is to buy only one bottle of wine, pour a little out, drop a gram of MDMA in and force everyone to drink it until someone starts talking about their relationship with their father.  

If you remember any of the events in the morning, you can now use this as inspiration for your writing.

This is when things start to get technical…

You have to put some feelings on a piece of paper, then once you’ve done that, you make out like they are really-really important. Everybody needs to know that your feelings are the most important thing that they have ever read on a piece of paper, and you can help them realise this by comparing them to things that happening in the sky. And maybe sometimes the sea.

Poets can only write in certain weather conditions. If the sun is out, you cannot write a poem, full stop. 

If the sky is not grey and there is no rain coming out of it, then you just cannot write a poem, it just will not work.

Poems must always be written by windows, you cannot write a poem by a door, It just doesn’t make any sense. They must always be about one of three things: 

How shit it is that your girlfriend left you 

(this is applicable even if you’ve never had a girlfriend), 

how depressed you are (even if you’ve never been depressed) 

or how you think you’re crazy (we all think you’re crazy). 

Anything outside of these three subjects is not real poetry.  

Once you’ve done that twenty five times, you’re pretty much set to go.   

You can take your creations to critique forums on the internet, where it is paramount that you tell everyone that they are wrong and your genius is misunderstood. You can send them off to poetry publishers and magazines, and when they reject your submissions, you can tell them that they are wrong and your genius is misunderstood. And of course, you can take your poems to your local open mic night, which is where I go to make strangers and acquaintances cringe whilst I describe the last time I had regrettable sex in detail. All with a little semi and the most pungent booze breath this side of London.


Angel Warwick wishes he was the worst poet on the south coast of England. Angel intends to help other wannabe poets to become better at being worse, to be as terrible (and drunk) as possible.

Cover photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

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