Alyx first came to sing at Loudhailer Acoustic in the very early days, back in the cafe, and then later as one of our first performance poets. Her contribution to HullSongs – Hull’s Hunger – is stunning. We were thrilled to receive it, and read it over and over. Here’s Alyx to introduce it herself…
I’m 98% human and 2% bandanna. When I was sixteen or seventeen (yes, yes, all those years ago) I was walking across one of the rail bridges that run between spring bank and Anlaby road; on one occasion the bricks had been scrawled on with white paint: Hull’s Heroin War. It ended with two dates that measured the time it had waged. The graffiti wasn’t there by the time I could get back to photograph it, but I knew that coup still existed somewhere behind closed doors. It was the first thing that came to mind when I was asked to write something about Hull, but I couldn’t pretend to know nor do that struggle justice, so only featured it vaguely. Back then I wanted to learn to write in a way that could have the same impact as those three words and eight numbers. Nowadays I’m fascinated with how the words work when spoken aloud with pace and a few half-rhymes which isn’t never occurred to me as something I could create outside of songs.
My introduction to spoken word was at Fruit where Mike Watts and Joe Hakim did strong sets before the Ginsberg film Howl. The whole night was amazing as it blew out of the water all preconceptions of modern poetry I had, and I came home with a rare notion…I can do that. So, y’know, sporadically I did. From there I’ve performed at a whole heap of Hull venues – including Rich and Lou’s Loudhailer where I’d sung and howled once or twice with my dad.
I’ve always thought Hull’s history is more visible than other cities. There were still a lot of buildings that were only frontages from their war damage as I was growing up. Not to mention the character of the buildings. I live close to the old Carlton theatre and I did the fish trail far too many times as a kid. I didn’t grow up in the city, but Hull’s home.”
This is ten years of Hull’s hunger as it rumbled in my lungs under Alder’s ghost from the depths of trawlers moored at queen’s gardens and while the city’s heart started beating in the 12th century we’ll keep that rhythm long past 2017.
Ten. With the history of the fishing industry my mind started to itch for non-fiction and as I flicked a cigarette out of the carton the disdain of my father inhaled with disgust at the taste and nicky rush. Too stubborn then to admit I’m not going to get to like tobacco. From here I started to understand politics. Cementing my ideals with ideas, I took to these streets with flags and banners, met my partner in the fervor ending each other’s sentences right there in queen Vic square. Now I’m here to tell some of my Hull stories that I bored from the depths of heads and bindings of book spines.
Nine. Orchard park is a part of me where my nanna’s moxie rocked me to sleep where now we speak politics my little cousin scribbles poetry four beats to a monkey bar and we fold paper into shapes snowflakes fly planes in the shadow of high rises where I saw angels as a child. Projected the length of it I remember that place those tenements not empty nor razed to their foundations; not pages of the papers that paint it unfavourably. But as a home I’ve known.
Eight. I wait in Trinity’s wake. Where my voice once echoed with a bevy of lessons I was trying to teach myself. I thought my words were loud enough to breach the ceiling but some still couldn’t hear me so misguided I visited a culture that hums alongside ours. Tried my hand at a language that’s life is so loud. I learnt to pour tales from my fingernails with a roleshift I know this city teams with different meanings to different kin.
Seven. I’ve healed aches in this town had my pain torn up and taken down by strangers mistaking my ill-fate for their own. You could argue life is harder in the north in the pocket of a capital that takes more than it ought. But winter is coming and we know the cold, (yeah we know the cold, who needs a coat!). We might not have much of a wall anymore but what’s left will hold.
Six. I was never cool enough to hang out at Pit. Instead we shifted to looking out to the distance of the Marina. Climbing rotten ladders tights laddered bandanna pulled up for just the right position to watch the city shiver and we’d listen for sweet nothings buzzing bridge-lengths and with bitter teen kisses we part friends.
Five. One of the busses killed a child.
Four. I chased graffiti through the streets to trees taken root in buildings. I never burnt bridges just pressed my treads on to the railing to look over the void we were avoiding. I’m still not so good at conflict, when I’m reticent I’m honest. but this city knows you can’t step on it for long so I picked a whetstone from Humber’s cold and edged new revelations to hark at under my sharpened tongue.
Three. I owe it to my folks for showing me here’s hope. Wilton’s labyrinthine antiques, cobbled roads not far from home, tram lines and tired dockers’ eyes. With mafting, ten-foots, emergency chip spice our old customs will survive.
Two. I used to say all my t’s now I adopt Hull’s glottal stop to spit what I got. But I’ll still get called posh because…
One. I grew up just outside this place. Where main roads whispered in the distance and green space protects like us versus them. Now my flat’s near the centre and it welcomed me on entry. I used to dream of leaving now I see Hull still has more to offer me.
© 2015 Alyx Tamminen