Review: Rogue Teacher – Mark Grist, TakeOver 13
Venue: The Studio, Theatre Royal, Friday, March 22
Well, folks, despite popular belief, It turns out that teachers are real people. And sometimes, in Mark Grist’s case, they’re really great people. If he had taught me English at school, instead of Mr Parr, then perhaps I’d be in the GCSE Poetry Anthology by now.
Mark Grist is a teacher-cum-poet-cum-rap battler, which is a bit of a mouthful really. When I first saw his battle with Blizzard, I thought it was hilarious, clever, but a tad too rude for me. Grist offered up some choice words about Blizzard’s mother, which although won him the battle, did not win him my respect.
Although every other word I usually utter is an expletive I don’t take kindly to foul language, especially when it’s used to make derogatory comments about women. Thankfully in this show he sets the record straight: he isn’t rude at all. He’s confident, but he’s not arrogant, nor is he pretentious.
He doesn’t act like God’s gift to the written word, he understands that words are more important than any writer. He doesn’t deal in good or bad, right or wrong, he’s only concerned with whether or not his poetry successfully expresses what he’s trying to say.
He’s funny too. Like Smithy from Gavin & Stacey, only three stone lighter and three times more intelligent. In the show he talks about his life, right from the days when Beth Builder rejected him in the playground, to the small yet significant media storm that surrounded the rap battling. He discusses how he felt when Blizzard announced he would never write again, the sobering feeling that followed what should have been a triumphant return to the school he’d once taught at, and enlightened us about the elite poetry posse, The Oulipo. All punctuated with some amazing rhyming poetry.
As a wannabe rhyming poet, I left the gig convinced I would be writing this review in rhyme. I even told Mark afterwards I would be – I’m sorry to let you down. He still really inspired me to write though. And to ignore the people that say you’re wrong or not good enough, because as 3LW once sang “haters they gonna hate.” You’ve got to do what you love, and that in turn makes you happy.
Mark Grist should be the face of poetry for our Facebook generation. And if he doesn’t want to go back to teaching, I’d implore him to consider a career as a life coach. Because, I’ve never felt happier.