I’ve never been to New York. I’ve never been to America. I have this romantic vision of the well storied Greenwich Village in Manhattan, which consists of underground Jazz clubs, Marlboro Reds, packed poetry readings in small coffee houses and dates with Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Allen Ginsberg and Leonard Cohen… it may be a tad utopian.
When I applied for a place at The New School I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t think I might actually get it. New York, New York, from rainy little England, seemed nothing more than an extravagant movie set in some far away land that I could never even afford passage to, let alone live in as a writer.
Okay, I don’t believe me (thanks, Jon Sands). Really, it’s dishonest to say I didn’t think I had a chance of getting a place. Looking back, I wouldn’t have applied if I really thought that. In 2013 I managed to quit smoking, a ten year vice, banish alcohol and its controlling presence in my life and finally feel like I had overcome my mental health issues. After that, to me, anything felt possible. So, I thought, why not?
A few weeks later I was offered a place on the Creative Writing MFA program at The New School for Public Engagement. I was astounded and excited. I also had no idea how I was actually going to take it up. American universities are notoriously expensive and that’s not even starting on the cost of living in NYC. After lots of research, I came to understand that realistically, there is one way of funding US study for UK citizens, and that way is a Fulbright Scholarship. Luckily, last year, Fulbright created a new scholarship, The Postgraduate Student Award at The New School, for one UK graduate student to take a Master’s degree in any discipline at The New School in New York. What are the evens? I needed that scholarship.
I got offered the place at NSPE in February 2014. Fulbright applications are submitted in October. So I knew that after I graduated from my Creative Writing BA at De Montfort University in Leicester, I would have to defer my place at The New School and move home to Nottingham for about a year, in order to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship and just hope that I got it. It was a big risk. I felt like I was putting my life on hold for glimmer of hope, with no back up plan. But then I met Debris and The Mouthy Poets, and realized that I had come home for a reason. This was the reason.
Before I found Mouthy, I knew that I loved poetry and that it was important to me. Mouthy has taught me why poetry is important, to everyone. Mouthy has taught me what poetry and people are capable of. It has shown me what I am capable of. Mouthy is the modern day Beat Generation, the antithesis of Anonymous, it is a voice keeping time and harmony on its toes. It is beautiful. The talent, diversity, support, warmth, kindness, love, compassion and community amongst this group of people is inexplicable. The whole world should work like this.
We are nerves and veins and bones and flesh, with consciousness, living on this blue-green star in our crazed societies, in the middle or at the edge of this vast, seemingly otherwise vacant universe. We don’t really know what or where or why we are. We live our lives in our own booths, beds, houses and bus seats. Ironically, on this overpopulated globe, it’s too easy to feel lonely. It’s too easy to look around and feel lost, crazy, left out, different, voiceless.
Words are all we really have for that. Each other, and each other’s words, are all we really have. The narrative of humanity is an epic poem. Our progress and accomplishments, our failures and education, all of our relationships are delivered by communication and expression. Words are the conscious world’s art. It is so important that we acknowledge that and nurture it. Mouthy does this. Debris does this. I’m not sure a single woman could be more responsible for as many poems being released into the troposphere, or as many people finding their voice and performance. Mouthy and Debris turn chaos into cosmos, on so many levels.
If that is not the meaning of life then we all need to think a little harder about what is, and read and write some more poetry. The collaboration of Mouthy’s ethos, The New School for Public Engagement and New York City is going to be a loud and fiery one. With the backing of Debris and Mouthy, I know that something special is starting this year. The universe has catalyzed to create this opportunity and Mouthy is going global. Initiate world domination sequence imminently…
…and thank you, Debris, and every single Mouthy Poet, past, present and future.