FEATURE: Rantin Richie – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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We caught up with Rantin Richie, the alternative poet, whose debut poetry book From Wandsworth to Wordsworth is out now, and we found out a little bit more about what inspires him…

I am RANTIN RICHIE an alternative poet of 30 year, ex DJ with Alabama 3. Anyway I have a debut 36 page book (let) out this week called From Wandsworth to Wordsworth (title inspired by my rather teen to mid life angry years in and out of prison to becoming a fully fledged alternative poet). The book has a foreword by Attila The Stockbroker. The book is more than just a mini poetry anthology, as my poet mentor George Jowett says it is a compendium featuring a rejection letter from Smokestack books, an email from Poet Laureate Simon Armitage after I complained to his publishers about him putting a piece about me in one of his books Walking Home about a Sunday afternoon gig I did at Tan Hill on the Yorkshire Moors. To be fair Simon has offered to get me a drink. I have some gigs lined up to promote it; October 13th at Fibbers in York with O CONNELL AND LOVE (Feat Alabama 3 frontman Larry Love), Darlington on October 20th and one in December with DAN DONNELLY (The Wonderstuff).

I was an angry volatile youth due to alienation coming from a single parent poor background and was one of the first kids in the country to experience the Tories “Short Sharp Shock” at detention centre. I then proceeded over the next 15 years to do various sentences in prison including Strangeways in Manchester, Armley prison in Leeds, and finishing off doing a 3 year sentence at Wandsworth prison in London.

I spent 6 months on the lifer wing in Wandsworth as I said I wanted a single cell, and it was fucking terrifying, but let me tell you, after that you really get an appreciation of life, colours, smells, social interaction, the beauty of life, the reality of life.

Years before when I was doing 18 month in a Youth Custody Centre in Northallerton I heard this loud mouthed Southern poet on John Peel doing this new brand of poetry, Ranting Poetry which was the punk equivalent of the staid poetry world, brash, opinionated, relevant and appealing to a working class bloke like me. I thought I can do this. That guy was Attila The Stockbroker and he wrote to me and asked me to help design his new Punk Poetry mag Tirane Thrash back in 1984.

Fast Forward to 2002 and once out of Wandsworth I embarked on doing stand-up poetry at various clubs in London The Hard Edge Club, Abbatoir Dogs and my own poetry club The Electric Circus in an upstairs room in Cambridge Circus near Piccadilly.

In the late 90’s I hooked up with London country techno band Alabama 3 (who did the theme tune for The Sopranos) and featured on their song Let The Caged Bird Sing on Power In The Blood LP. The song is about prison, very apt, but i did a little rap about French poet Arthur Rimbaud being a prisoner of French society.

This year after never having any CD’s out or anything published and not particularly wanting to, preferring just doing stand up, I thought fuck it, let’s put sommat out.

From Wandsworth to Wordsworth sounded just such a great title and encapsulated my often harrowing journey from prisoner to alternative poet.

People think poets are super intellectuals who are the privvy of the middle class, well I want to get across to absolutely everyone, so if anyone across the North East be it festival organisers, bands, cafes, want to put me on just get in touch. And let’s have some parity financially with musicians, artists, I won’t ask you to paint my flat for free, don’t ask me to perform for free.

I’ll leave you with one of my poems. For my 32 page booklet From Wandsworth to Wordsworth, email me rantin2014@gmail.com

The Angry River
I am the angry brown river in flood, crashing and smashing o’er everything before me. Confronting stubborn static brooding rocks, barging past like the bully in the school playground, smirking and unabashed. I am the teenage rioter running down the street, smashing windows at random, just for the pure hell of it. Tears of anger roll down my cold cheek, for this is how I view society’s failings, in relation to my own shattered and bruised and battered life.
I am the madman, stabbing uncontrollably at the flesh in front of me, just to quench my lustful psychopathic urges, which must be fed. I deserve to die and yearn to be stopped, yet the victim in my sights has no knowledge of that.
I am the bitter winter harvest that has killed the playfulness and the joy of summer. I have obliterated the beautiful green grass that animals grazed upon and wiped the smiles from children’s faces. Frozen pipes that brought life giving water to homes which left the bodies of mountaineers on lonely crevices, left to be unfound, unburied by grieving ceremony. No gravestone shall bear their name, and no flowers shall adorn their final resting place. No eulogies shall be spoken by family nor friends. No cold buffet shall be eaten half-heartedly by mourners.
I am the angry brown river in flood, washing away everything in my hedonistic rampage. I am only temporary, so whilst I am here, I must make a dramatic impact and make you wary of me. You shall be terrified of my unearthly growling as I hurtle like a steam train down the empty valley which stands in silence like a platoon of young soldiers on the parade ground staring at the sun, and wondering just what the hell it is that drove them to volunteer to be here, right now.
I am the angry brown river, and this is my testimony.

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