Gordon Powrie – Drugs & Other Love, Syllables Volume One

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Is this what it’s come to? I’m reviewing fucking poetry now.

I suppose there’s only so many whiskies to tan, gigs to sweat at, burgers to inhale, and records to rip the pish out of. So why the fuck not, show me your rhymes.

As far as poetry pedigree goes, I’m about as far from an expert as you can get. John Cooper Clarke is pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the subject, and that’s only because the Arctic Monkeys so expertly put one of his works to music.

And I’ve heard Morrissey (at least until he was recently 100% confirmed as a total wankfuck) described as a poet. I can dig that.

I’d previously heard Gordon Powrie deliver one of his poems to a captive audience on the pitch at a rugby club in Paisley. I now know that poem is called Paradox Schmaradox, and it appears here on Powrie’s debut release.

The Cooper Clarke influence is abundantly clear in this poem, at least to my ignorant ear. On paper, it’s a hilarious take down of some poor cunt or other that clearly got on Powrie’s bad side. Performed in the flesh, it’s so acidic and cutting that it’s almost painful. But no doubt that’s at least partly the point.

As fantastic as Paradox Schmaradox is, it’s not the standout on this collection of works. That honour belongs to 3 Songs – a desperately sad tale that happens to be entirely true.

Powrie describes – with a heartwarming style that almost shouldn’t sit so comfortably alongside the upsetting subject matter – how a friend hid crippling mental health problems behind a facade that eventually cracked tragically. We’re supposed to talk about these things now, so I don’t feel quite as awkward in saying that the young man described in this story was the last person you’d ever imagine taking their own life.

The rest of this collection of poems covers everything from life as a borderline poverty-stricken 90s child in Paisley to a vodka-guzzling grandmother with a perverse love for one of Glasgow’s two poisonous football clubs. There are also a fair amount of violence and marijuana references on these pages – all of which can be yours for a measly £2.

Powrie has never struck me as unhinged. Rather, he’s best described as a fiercely dedicated perfectionist – if a little intense. But in these words lurks someone with first-hand knowledge of a string of fucked up experiences that all add up to a quite brilliant collection of stories that can be safely branded unhinged as all fuck.

Powrie has a truly wicked way with words. I mean, any sensible person with skills like his would write songs and maybe make some real dough. For whatever reason, Powrie’s chosen instead to put his pen to work on poetry. And fair fucks to the boy, he’s solidly brilliant at it.

With Powrie regularly appearing and winning acclaim on the Glasgow poetry scene, you’d be a total fanny not to check him out. And you’d be a cunt worse than Morrissey not to spend a few quid on Drugs & Other Love.

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