I Thought We’d Be Famous
Here’s one of the great pivots – and it’s taken place over several years – the poet Dominic Hoey, formerly the rapper Tourettes, is still writing about being a dirtbag; his focus is the broken dreams and the silent screams of the artist, struggling or otherwise; of the struggle to live, and to be alive and then to try to thrive. Now what’s interesting about this pivot, is it’s really no pivot at all – it’s a hiding-in-plain-sight game. A name change (using his real name adds ‘realness’) and a format-change – swapping rap for poetry (when they’re really one and the same, or could be, and often should be) has allowed him to be taken more seriously.
No more sweaty two-gigs-in-one-night in shitholes – it’s now literary festivals and street-poster campaigns. And the payday might not be much better, or even as good, but the prestige is growing.
And let me be clear this is no ruse. Hoey is writing what he feels and what is real and who he is – he means the shit out of his words – and his latest book might be both the clearest, and cleverest statement yet around his intentions. He’s a street-poet with heart and following an autobiographical play and a novel the transformation is complete. This is a guy who was once a rapper, but always a writer. Now he’s a book-guy – and this book is very good, very readable, fairly relatable and there’s no hiding from the deadbeat-past, this is more a celebration of that – with lots of fury and anger and acceptance. The big themes – as they probably always should be – are politics and love and the attempt to celebrate the self, after finding it of course.
He walks the line dutifully – and then writes it, beautifully – of vulnerability and stoicism; of fragility and fierce heart. Weaknesses are only ever exposed when they’ve been turned into the strengths they are. We feel his spit and rage, soft disgust and hard energy on every page.
let’s start at the beginning
throwing what’s left of my heart into the ocean
fleeing the country
for the misty valium streets of Melbourne
avoid oceans when depressed and sun sets when in love, fuck
rewriting dogma and fan fiction of the new hot literature style that
nobody’s even sure they really like
standing in the middle of the road
hold each other
and eventually make up
I take their rotting hand and walk into the Gumboot Capital Of
where I trick the last remaining humans into opening the gates
and watch smiling
as my true love eats them all alive
These are random stanzas I’ve taken from the start, middle and end of this book. There’s many more I could have chosen – I picked these because they show how even disconnected pieces of writing can connect. And here across many great poems over 112 pages you get a story. There’s a story that links all of these moments – and it’s real. And it’s hard to not feel it. And it’s a sometimes profound, often profane piece of work; of a life compromised by health but never by the actual heart. Whatever trouble the heart has given its author outside of writing it has been the valve, the pump, the muscle when pen hits out at the rage. The heart is clear to hear and see and feel on each and every page.
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