Fashion stylist Jan Brierton’s first poem “What Day Is It? who gives a f*ck.” went viral in January 2021. A collection of poems published by New Island followed, and now Brierton will launch a podcast. She tells THE GLOSS about the motivation behind her poetry and podcast, and the wonder of sharing words that resonate …
I never thought that poetry was for me. I remember the Soundings poetry book from secondary school, a greatest hits of poetry from Shakespeare, Kavanagh, Yeats and many more; ‘Now That’s What I Call Poetry!’
I thought for the most part, poetry was abstract expressions, using long words and phrases that I didn’t understand, to express emotions that I didn’t always connect with. I’d much rather the lyrics of Bowie, P.I.L, Morrisey, Depeche Mode or Public Enemy, and I suppose I didn’t realise at the time that all the songs and the music that was so important to my life was, in fact, a poetry of sorts.
Long after Soundings I came across John Cooper Clark’s “Evidently Chickentown” in the closing episode of The Sopranos. It was raw, it was full of exasperation, and emotionally it spoke to me, plus I could understand the language. It rhymed, it had a rhythm to it, it felt punk. It didn’t feel like what I thought poetry was, this felt real.
In January 2021 I wrote my first poem, “What Day Is It? who gives a f*ck.” And still to this day I don’t understand why I expressed myself in a poem. All I know is it came out loud and clear, all at once, in plain sweary language. This was my voice.
“What Day Is It?” went viral and was shared all over the world, and once I started writing I couldn’t stop. I wrote about the things that I saw and felt, the everyday things during lockdown like wearing leggings, drinking wine and eating the last of the biscuits. And when New Island published a book of my poems, I was struck by how the short simple verses resonated with so many. I received so many messages saying ‘me too’ and ‘I feel seen’. Readers of this little yellow book were sharing their own stories with me, telling me their favourite poems and the ones that struck a chord. And when I went on to perform the poems in live shows, the audience and I laughed and cried, and we did it together. “Not a dry seat in the house!” Christine wrote to me after the last reading.
Jan Brierton photographed by Felipe Menezes @5LampsArtsFestival.
Still to this day I don’t understand why I expressed myself in a poem. All I know is it came out loud and clear, all at once, in plain sweary language. This was my voice.
And so, I found that by writing about all of life’s normal things in my voice, it was actually your voice too. All of the ups and downs, the frustrations, the longing and the loving are shared experiences, and they didn’t need to be expressed using elaborate language or complicated words.
These lines are in the opening pages of the book:
Everybody is a poem,
Every walk is a dance,
Every family is a drama,
Every chat’s a performance.
Every recording is a film,
Texts are memoirs
from the heart,
Every body is a poem,
Every limb’s a work of art.
And so here I am today, I call myself an accidental poet, now a podcaster. “You’ve learnt how to dance like no one is watching,” my gorgeous friend Claire Louise told me, after I texted to say that I was absolutely sh*tting it in the run up to the launch of the first episode. “Now you just have to talk like no one is listening”.
My poetry of life is now a podcast: Everybody Is A Poem. And in each episode, my guests and I will share all of life’s ups and downs and everything in between. I read new poems and favourites from the book What Day Is it? who gives a f*ck. And just like the poems, the conversations are unfiltered, open, and honest.
Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.