Poetry first burst into view for me in the late 1990s. If it had entered my world before that I hadn’t noticed. Now I was waving and drowning and swimming all at the same time: writing, reading, publishing, discussing, listening, teaching, performing.
Then came a lull. When poetry next exploded in me I was astonished to discover myself as an erotic performance poet. That was a blast! Pretty soon, I was writing about silences and bodies and taboo more generally and the poems became increasingly relevant to my day job as a radical dietitian. Common themes of shame, dignity, pleasure, eating, the collective, trauma, identity and health politics merged my spoken word and dietetics.
As a radical dietitian I work to change how we think, and so behave, around bodies, food and health. I had been trying to figure out how to convey the outrage and urgency I felt, alongside my passion for good science. And the answer had been under my nose all along –I express this best in spoken word poetry.
Spoken word poems reach people in viscerally, pivotally different ways than any lecture or workshop ever could. Poems can hold stories that will always be too big, too rich, too unwieldy for an article. I use them to disturb the routine view on health that pretends there is no such thing as society. To disrupt the rules on what counts and whose voices matter. To share facts that have not had their soul ripped out with statistics. They do not assume a single, static, sorted, standpoint, but – in short, they shake things up and this is the starting point for change.