Joshua Jones: “It frustrates me seeing people sharing videos of poetry but not going to any shows.”

We speak to Joshua Jones about his debut release 'The Place'

Joshua Jones: “It frustrates me seeing people sharing videos of poetry but not going to any shows.”

By Ashwin Bhandari

Nov 20, 2017 8:42

Hailing from South West Wales, the 21-year-old punk poet moved to Southampton in 2015 to study English Literature and inevitably became an active contributor to the city's bustling DIY scene. Jones, however, considers neither locations to be his true home of sorts, with feelings of exile and 'outsiderism' a major influence on his pieces.

“I only started writing properly and for the intention of the stage when I moved to Southampton, I think I am more cynical about my home and my identity as a Welshman in general than I am about Southampton,” he says.

On ‘The Place’, certain pieces detail his experiences growing up and revising these memories in a gutsy, unfiltered manner. ‘Head In The Oven’ for example is about an old friendship circle that he no longer keeps in contact with and their drug habits.

“At one point they went from fucking around with party drugs to really getting into ketamine and that made me uncomfortable — especially after a conversation I had with an artist called Perkie about friends and substance abuse. The poem is specifically about one of those parties on Halloween in 2015. My friend wore an oven made out of a cardboard box on his head — he went as Sylvia Plath.”

Despite being a poet, Jones often finds greater inspiration through playwrights, novelists and musicians. “I love ‘Waiting For Godot’ by Samuel Beckett, ‘Shopping & Fucking’ by Mark Ravenhill and ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce to name a few. Some of my favourite lyricists, on the other hand, are Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and currently Nick Cave.”

With the rise of popularity in spoken word YouTube channels such as Button Poetry and bands like Hotel Books, reciting pieces over melancholic music, the medium appears to be gaining new found traction within communities other than outsider art. Whilst Jones has performed at various shows with bands, he feels that it’s still hard to engage people with spoken word unless it’s something that goes viral.

“The sharability and virality of poetry (like Hilborn’s OCD poem) is not what I have a problem with, but how people interact with it. It frustrates me seeing people sharing videos of poetry but not going to any shows. If those same people went to spoken word gigs and supported their local poets, promoters would struggle a lot less to get people to come to their shows. I’m writing & researching this topic in my dissertation so it’s something I’m quite passionate about.”

Jones says that performing is not something that came naturally to him, but he hopes to take away the egotism that comes with the nature of having the platform itself.  “I want people to know that they can share whatever they want, and they can do so in such a simple way as standing in front of people.”

Whilst musicians being outed as abusers is nothing new, it has especially been troubling to find out members of DIY communities being exposed for their unacceptable behavior over the last few months.

“The scene has no tolerance for people who abuse others, but those people shouldn’t have to be called out in the first place. Regardless, there are many, many genuine poets, musicians, artists, zinemakers etc. in the UK DIY scene who are doing some really cool things! Like Phaedra’s Love, Paper and Ink Zine. ”

In 2018 Jones hopes to continue writing and improve his forms of self-publishing and delve into the realm of film-making as well.

‘The Place’ is available now via Circle House Records. You can listen to the Bandcamp stream of the record below.