I’ve been getting into performance poetry lately, so who better to feature next than Steve Tasane, an awesome poet specialising in fast and funky word-twisting for children. Steve is another of the writers shortlisted in the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices book award for his book Fly Kids.
Steve’s website calls him “the master of tongue-twisting, mind-boggling alternative poetry” and a quick shop around the web (for example, check out Steve’s poems for the Battersea Dogs Home including the YouTube vid at the bottom of this post) or some of Steve’s children’s poems, proves him entirely right. Steve will be performing at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival in Kidz Field, where they reckon “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood, to to enable someone else to”…how fab! And isn’t that why so many of us write for children?
More on Fly Kids…
So what’s Fly Kids all about? It’s a mix of the harsh reality (refugees, immigration, xenophobia) and wild fiction (woo hoo! who hasn’t wished they could fly?). In a nutshell: Riki and his brother can fly – but only in their bedroom. Riki’s father was a refugee. Uncovering details of his father’s flight to the UK, Riki realises that not everybody is so happy about people’s differences. The Ministry of Safety and Health (MOSH) begin investigating families rumoured to have flying children. Then Riki’s younger brother is forcibly taken by MOSH. Riki and his friends must undertake a daring rescue mission, confronting the agents at MOSH and endeavouring to let the world see – and celebrate – the fact that there are those amongst us who are not the same.
My titchy little brother Mikk has a special gift. And I believe in him. True, he is always borrowing my things without asking, and managing to bust them. He always has food smudged all over his face, and sticky fingers, and he picks his nose too much. He is a first-class pest. But he really does have a special gift. I’ve seen him with my own eyes. I’ve watched him bouncing on his bed. I mean, really really really bouncing. I swear he bounces higher than anyone could ever jump. And it takes a little too long for him to drop back down. He is magic.
And a quick interview with Steve, courtesy of Seven Stories, host of the Diverse Voices awards night…
What do you usually write about and who do you write for?
Usually I write performance poetry, sometimes for children, sometimes for adults. I believe poetry is something to be enjoyed in schools and at festivals, clubs, on TV and the internet – everywhere! I like my poems to celebrate language and also to encourage us to live better lives. My poems are about our world today, and all the people who share its space.
Why do you write?
I love the sounds of words and I like to imagine them dancing out of my mouth. I think of my poems as representing different types of music – soul, party anthems, hip hop, and pop. I think about what I enjoy reading and hearing, and try with my writing to capture this for others. Often, I write because some things make me angry – like greed and bullying – and I like to make my opinions heard.
Where and when do you write?
I write a lot of my poems when out walking, and often when I’m lying awake in bed at night. I wrote my children’s novel entirely longhand, on trains travelling to and from children’s poetry workshops.
What inspired you to enter the Diverse Voices Award?
An actual dream – about flying – and a dream of having my own voice heard.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Who is your favourite children’s author either writing today or from the past?
What does the future hold for you and your writing?
I’m presently working on short stories for submission for other children’s anthologies, and preparing for appearances in the kid’s fields at both Glastonbury and Big Chill festivals. I work primarily as a performance poet, and as an Associate Artist for the Live Literature Consortium I’ve been commissioned to produce a set of polyvocal poetry. So I’m presently exploring possibilities for doing the same with my children’s poems.
And below, check out Steve’s hilarious and sweet tribute to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home: