The Arguments Yard Tour draws on the eponymous autobiography and long career of performance poet (and more besides) Attila the Stockbroker. It’s a celebration of, but by no means an end to, his history of supporting causes, fighting the fash, and shaking people awake. After thirty five years’ touring, he is unsurprisingly fantastic onstage – yet never too slick or polished, and always with a feeling of spontaneity; such as the final poem, for which he gets the audience to choose from ‘angry’, ‘sensitive’, or ‘disgusting’ as a theme. Of course, we chose ‘disgusting’.
This gig offered us a glimpse of the many facets to this great performer. He sings, shouts, chuckles and gets us chuckling too. He’s angry but never spiteful, and demonstrates but never flaunts his (enormous) knowledge of the world and music. Proud of his politics, and personally honest to the point of bringing tears to many people’s eyes, both when he’s telling his mum’s life story or describing the process of being tested for bladder cancer, he covers subjects such as: tax avoidance, cancer, dementia, bankers and Thatcher. His poem on Thatcher trying to privatise hell had everyone howling with mixed glee and horror.
It was also very good to see local poet Kev Titterton with a very strong support set, with some of his wise, wry and witty pieces on similar topics – and topics that are so important to all of us: family, taxes, politics and work, showing his skill with words.
Both these poets inspired me with their power of words, strength of feeling and emotional honesty. On voting day in Sheffield, coming so soon after the long overdue justice for Hillsborough and in the midst of more scandals of bankers’ bonuses and politicians’ expenses, this gig moved me in the most important way. It stirred me up, made me laugh, made me think, encouraged me to act, and reminded me that I’m not alone in the struggle; we will keep fighting.