Acclaimed performance poet Salena Godden has released a long awaited album via independent spoken word label Nymphs and Thugs. Poet and Prowl editor, Lisa Luxx, spends a morning with the record.
You’ll never forget the first time you witness Salena Godden at work. I laughed endlessly, creasing up like a shirt on a long journey and that’s her: screwing with the ironed values of suit-wearing news-watching Daily-Mail-reading sycophants. She’ll grab you by the lapels and take you on a raucous ride across the emotional landscape of a bored society, to the soundtrack of mania and melancholy. I dream of her crashing right through office windows everywhere and laughing at their desk chairs.
LIVEwire is mental. I laughed, out loud. Cried, out loud. And said “fucking yes sister!”, out loud. Many times. It’s an album that makes you feel like you’re having a beer with the friend that always riles you up for the night ahead, with tales of woe told through ha ha ha’s.
The album is made up of live recordings, poetic music and excerpts from her memoir Springfield Road. It is in the track Voodoo, an extract from the book, that captures Salena at her best; funny yet heartbreaking social commentary told through her own experience of living as a WOC in a white man’s world. Salena knows to guide us to the bonfire of our political heart we must first wander down the lane of humour.
She is tender and raw as well as wild and silly. Sometimes Salena is mean; A Letter to an Air Stewardess is a piece where she rages mad at a woman who won’t give her a pen to write with, and it might as well be in the ring of a rap battle. I started to think I wish she wouldn’t talk about another woman like that but then I saw myself and how ugly I get if someone interrupts my writing, or indeed doesn’t give me what I need to write. And that moment exemplified the magic of Salena’s storytelling – letting it all hang out to give us the opportunity to see ourselves in unflattering light.
She’s a people’s poet. She’s a poet’s poet. She will remind you to be brave and “do what the fuck you like” with your tits, and your word. She reminds me that poet’s are the smart people’s politicians. They can’t directly change laws or disarm nuclear buffoonery, but they can stir up a surge of power through an audience who will walk away feeling bigger than when they began. Who else but Salena can get a crowd chanting “Tits! Tits! Tits!” out of respect for women’s bodies?
“I produced this work like a vinyl LP,” Salena says, “the A-side, the first half is for your headphone moments, then I invite you to turn it up and pour yourself a rum for a dirty B-side.”
LIVEwire is out now. Buy it because there is so much noise on our airwaves that it’s absolutely imperative to choose the people we tune in to. Buy it because if we don’t support the voices that we trust then we will lose them as our compass. Buy it because in a sad world we need to laugh as much as possible and LiveWire will make you fucking roar.
‘LIVEwire’ is available on CD and download via independent spoken word label Nymphs & Thugs.