We have a rather special edition of Two Poems today as the poet in question is also performing at our inaugural event tomorrow night!
Poet and actor, Charlie Dupré, started his vocal career spitting bars for various DnB DJs. Somewhere along the line he found his calling crafting poetry and has since astounded audiences across the capital. Drawing from real life, the classics and everything in between, Charlie weaves stories that leave you feeling lyrically sated. We caught up with him recently to chat and record this edition of Two Poems. Hear first, one of his own works and then a poem by poet and playwright, Philip Ridley.
Regrets of the Scottish King
After the jump, you can read a little interview with Charlie in which he talks about Swing n Bass, jury duty and the similarities between Shakespeare and hip hop.
I Am the Boy – Philip Ridley
So, let’s start at the beginning. How did you first come to write poetry?
I started MCing to Drum and Bass when I was at university. After uni a girl I was with at the time took me to a poetry slam, something I’d never been to before. I didn’t know they existed. I saw the competition and thought ‘why not?’ I could get on stage and do some MCing. So, I started that way and it all went from there.
Do you still MC?
Yeah, I do. I’m working on a couple of tracks at the moment with a pair of Swing n Bass DJs [swing music set over drum and bass beats]. So yeah, I still do a fair amount of MCing, and I still do gigs with a few DJs, but more and more poetry is taking over.
Do you write lyrics in the same way that you write poetry?
Writing rap lyrics or MC lyrics and writing poetry are pretty different. With MC lyrics it’s all about the music really. Often I’ll be sent a tune or I’ll be listening to a set and the whole point is for me to complement the music, but the poetry is much more about me telling a story. I find that poetry is a lot more expressive of who I am, definitely.
Where does your subject matter come from? Do your poems start in a particular way?
They can come out of anywhere. Sometimes i just like to write and see what happens, let my hand draw out the story. Often I’ll just get an idea about something and I’ll run with it. In fact, that Macbeth poem was inspired by a night called Lyrically Challenged. They gave the challenge of writing a poem about consequence by telling a story backwards. So I picked Macbeth and just talked about consequence. That’s how that came about.
You’ve performed a poem about Macbeth and recently I heard your piece about Doctor Faustus. You seem to draw a lot from more classical writers…
Absolutely, I love classical plays, I’m trained as an actor so particularly Macbeth I know really well. Dr Faustus I got to know much more recently as I was tutoring an A-level student and really got into the story. So yeah, I am influenced a lot by classical plays. I think there are a lot of parallels between the poetry of classical playwrights and modern-day hip hop. Like Shakespeare would use very rhythmic iambic pentameter, which is essentially a five beat bar. It’s exactly the same principle of thinking that modern rappers use. I like to try to marry the too.
I prefer writing poetry though as it’s a lot more free. I can change the tempo whenever I like, I can pause where I like. I’m not slave to a particular speed or a particular beat. Of course, it’s still got a bit of a rap influenced style, my poetry, because it started off from rapping.
Do you think your poetry works on paper or do you see it solely as a performative art?
I haven’t released anything on paper yet, but I’m certainly not averse to it. If someone wanted to publish one I’d say “sure. Why not?” But I do think that a lot of them so far are quite dependent of the performative aspect. As I write them thinking how I might perform them.
What’s next on the cards?
I’m acting in a play at the Courtyard Theatre later this year and working on these Swing n Bass tracks [They’re by Dutty Moonshine just in case you’re curious]. And, of course, writing more poems. In fact I might write one about this trial I’ve just been doing [Charlie came straight from a day of jury service]. It’s definitely affected me sufficiently to warrant writing a poem about. It’s exactly that sort of thing, in fact, that affects you or makes you think and that’s when you should be like ‘get out the poetry book, see what comes out.”
Charlie Dupré will be performing at our literary evening Annexe Presents… Et Al.(Tuesday 18th October, 7pm, The Charterhouse Bar, 38 Charterhouse Street, Farringdon)
If you can’t make it down, but you want to hear more from Charlie Dupré, you can visit his Soundcloud