All Ireland poetry champion: Seamus Fox
BACK in the day, Seamus Fox was the only fella I knew in Craigavon with a Public Enemy record – I had the tape but he had the vinyl.
In fact he was the only person I knew anywhere with any rap music – Craigavon, a town 26 miles from Belfast and at the centre of an area once known as the Murder Triangle in the 1970s, didn’t really embrace hip hop. The Bronx, Bed-Stuy or Sugar Hill it was not.
But Seamie was a good lad, same year as me at Lismore and been in the cubs together – so I knew him well enough to try get a gander at this hallowed item.
So I got an invite round to his house in Edenbeg – he won’t mind me saying this – he wasn’t a great one for tidying. He was 16 and living alone at the time, I think one of his parents had died, can’t be sure, but there amid the physical and emotional mess was a pristine copy of It Takes a Nation of Millions…
And not just that, there was Eric B and Rakim and EPMD and Stetsasonic, these were the coolest things I had ever seen. Maybe in the intervening years the incident has become heightened in my memory, maybe he’ll tell me it was a one Redhead Kingpin 12″.
But the point is that he was always into rap and performance, a bright and intelligent bloke who had no outlet for his massive creative energies. Maybe he felt he shouldn’t display his sensitive side and to be fair, there weren’t too many performance poets in the lounge of the Drumgor Tavern at the time – you could have measured with a microscope the shortness of the shrift you would have been given in the boozer if you had said: ‘houl on there lad, I’m gonna bust a wee haiku here.”
But there is a poet in the lounge bar now because Craigavon’s finest bard is the Irish performance poetry champion. He’s got his demons but he meets them head-on with a wit and a forthright nature he learned from all those hours listening to ‘Cold Lampin’ by Flava Flav.
My favourites are Ulster Fry, Trying to Get My Head Straight and the brilliant, brilliant Colonial Ceremony but there are also a number of sensitive love poems he perhaps doesn’t get enough credit for. You can hear them here at Malachi O’Doherty’s brilliant podcast site.
You should also check out the brilliant montages he does to accompany his poems.
This is what Chuck D would have been rapping about if he’d had a bottle of wine under the curly wurly bridge, bai.