Tim Wells is hardly a new boy on the block in performance poetry, but his name is gradually getting mentioned more and he is regular London performer of his working class, street-influenced work. Tim has an ear for dialogue, much of his work is in recorded speech, his constituency is those left behind in Hackney, Dalston and Stepney by gentrification. He’s an angry poet – “what really bites the cupcake / is that even the little we have, / the bastards feel entitled to that too.” There’s a lot to do with drink, the dance floor and the odd sexist comment that makes my liberal nose wrinkle but Tim is a good observer. My favourite poem, “Bidaaye” describes him, “Eating curry with Hasina / when three Brick Lane girls walk in, / look at her then me, quizzically. // They question her; not in the usual Sylheti, but Bengali. / When Bengali comes out it’s time to worry – / it’s like getting a letter from the Council.” In his performance Sylheti, Yiddish and Romani slang are added to the mix for this is someone who knows the immigrant poor. His best title in the collection is “The Middle Class in the Launderette as Pandas in the Zoo” (“O the joy / of the what to do? / till the Turkish lady / sorts them change, / explains a service wash.” But behind the Hoxton wide-boy is a knowledge of poetry – of Thom Gunn, and of Larkin, not least as his father would draw a face on his morning boiled egg to look like Larkin before “he’d crack his spoon on Larkin’s skull”.
I bumped into Tim on a demonstration against the Jack the Ripper museum on Cable Street. It won’t be long before that abomination makes its way into his poems.