Sunday 9 February 2020

Review by Ashley Lloyd Smith of "Genre Fluid" by Dan Webber

When I first watched Dan Webber perform at an open mic night I couldn’t stop laughing.  And I wasn’t alone. The whole place was in uproar. We waited, tense on every line, for the next observation to blow our heads off. I laughed more than I do at most stand-ups. It is this which goes to crux of the title and in some ways the whole collection. Am I a stand-up comedian or am I a poet? I’m not sure. “I think I might be Genre Fluid.”

This collection of poetry is more than just the last couple of years of his poems flung into one book but in fact the script of an hour long one man show, including the slides he uses and the funny chatty bits in-between. It takes us through the trials of a performance poet on the circuit, a single gay man’s fight with dating technology and the perversity of labels themselves.  

The show was without doubt one of the best nights I’ve had this year. I can’t rate it highly enough. Inevitably, the poetry collection loses some of that excitement once on the page. I have read it three times now so I am hardly bored by it but that’s partly because I can picture the show itself and I’m reliving it. Dan’s personality, one that welcomes you into his world with a big bear hug (‘bear’ being one of those labels) is so important to the poems in performance that they can’t quite reach those heights on the page. 

However I’d still recommend you read it and never miss him on stage if I were you.  Here’s a taste of the world you’ll enter with the shortest poem in the collection (along with its introduction): 

When I’m at my lowest, I always seem to find
something to remind me what a wonderful
world we live in and this particular time
I found it in Asda in Sutton on Ashfield

Teenage boy applying lip gloss in a supermarket mirror
“So, then he called me queer and I was like, yeah and?”
His friends giggle like it’s no big deal
Stealing from the samples, they trade eyeliners
And ever so slightly, the world changes

About the reviewer
Ashley has had a number of poems and short stories published. Last year his debut novel, Pizza with Jimbob & Twoforks, won Best Foreign Novel of the Year in Greece. He is currently taking the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester.

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