Q & A: Jakob Boyd

Two weeks ago Perth poet Jakob Boyd, A.K.A. Laundry Man, set himself the challenge of writing ten poems a day for a week. He’s also made a name for himself on the Perth poetry scene and has a number of exciting projects in the works. We caught up with Jakob to hear what came out of his week of writing and what he’s planning next.

Burning question: Why ‘the Laundry Man’?

Ah, yeah not enough people ask that. When I was little my brother and I would play ‘superheroes’ and he was ‘The Mighty Ko’, no idea why. And I was his sidekick ‘The Laundry Room Man’ because we are in a laundry when he thought of it I guess. Very cool. My Dad was in a band and he decided to name it after my brother’s super hero: ‘Mitey Ko’. When I competed in my first Slam, it was being run by Dad so we thought it’d be a good idea for me to have a stage name, and bam, thought Laundry Man would work. It’s weird, it gets you thinking, it’s kinda daggy and it sort of stuck.

After finishing uni you set yourself the task of writing ten poems a day for a week, seventy poems in total. You called it Laundry Week and posted the poems online. What gave you the idea to have such an intense writing period?

Well I was feeling a little bit creatively unsatisfied in the last year or so of uni. I was doing Creative Writing, and most of it was electives and short stories, which I lost an interest in and I was pretty much going through the motions, just waiting to finish. But I wanted to feel like I got something out of it so I think I wanted to make Laundry Week feel like a final exam, I guess? I wanted to show myself that I could do poetry as more than a hobby. If I’m gonna do poetry for the next few years it had to feel like work.

Coming out the other side of that week, what was that experience like and what did it do for your writing?

It was so helpful. I mean, I did get to this point of total writer’s block and I stopped being able to tell if what I was writing was good, but I knew whatever I put up on that blog people would be supportive and stuff, and have a laugh about some of the weirder ones. But no it was really helpful, and it got me writing about stuff I’d never write about. Usually I’ve got pretty abstract or political stuff, but in Laundry Week I could write about personal experiences and really make them my own. Pretty therapeutic, and as much as I hate to say it, it was a lot of self-discovery and I realised some stuff about myself. At the very least it reminded me how much I enjoyed writing, which was awesome!

During Laundry Week you also co-hosted Spoken Word Perth’s Art & About Open Mic Night and were a featured poet at the Perth Poetry Club’s weekly reading at The Moon. It seems that Perth has a very supportive and active community of poets. Can you tell us a bit about the groups and events you’re involved with?

Yeah Perth is great. A really close community of poets. I kinda grew up in the poetry world so it’s great to be involved. I’m a regular at the Moon and at Spoken Word Perth. There’s also Voicebox, another poetry event in Freo which is really cool, good open mic, really good features. For a while I was doing a zine called ‘Department of Poetry’ where I’d get some local poets to send me stuff and I’d put it together, sell them at events for a dollar or two. That was really fun and I made some great friends in the process. I love grassroots stuff like that. I should keep it going but life is a bit chaotic at the moment…

What drew you to poetry?

Like I said I grew up in poetry land, kind of. Dad did poetry as the ‘antipoet’. He and Mum ran some events and brought me and my brother along when we were little, and as we got older. I was always into writing from a young age so poetry, especially performance poetry, seemed pretty natural. I started going to Poetry Club every week and did the Slam in 2012 and I just got really comfortable. It’s a cool thing to put a lot of energy in to, and in a way a place to rant. Spoken Word Perth has been a really good place to grow in to that and share works with some really cool people.

What themes and ideas are you attracted to in your writing?

My friends have started to notice I’m always talking about ‘cranes’ and Perth. Perth is a thing I write about probably a little too much. They’ve also noticed I talked about ‘blood’ heaps. And ‘goon’. There’s plenty of coming of age stuff, political and social stuff. That’s a question that would’ve been easy to answer before Laundry Week, but now I’ve got no idea! I like to play with words and rhythms and stuff, more than anything.

How would you describe your writing style?
Weird, angry and playful. That’s what I keep saying when people ask me for a bio, anyway. I use way too much alliteration. 

Which poets/poems have most influenced your work?

Mostly local poets. There’s Dad, naturally. Coral Carter, in the local scene, her stuff always makes me want to write. My friends give me good ideas. Whenever they’ve got a good poem I kinda want to match it. I’m might be a little too influenced by song lyrics, from like Nick Cave, Future of the Left, Arctic Monkeys. I love all the word play and ego and performance. Probably my biggest influence from the ‘canon’ of poetry is Allen Ginsberg, his stuff is really good. Howl made me take poetry more seriously and I copied his style for ages.

What are you currently reading? 

I don’t read nearly as much as I want to. But now uni is over I can read more. At the moment I’m re-reading How It Feels by Brendan Cowell. It’s this really dark and gruesome coming of age set in the Sutherland Shire. It’s tragic and full on. One of my favourite books.

What’s next for Laundry Man?

Well at the moment I’m working on a spoken word stage show called Howl, Yawn with fellow poets Matt Norman and Maddie Godfrey. It’s a three-voices, theatrical reading of Allen Ginsberg’s legendary beat-generation epic Howl (that I nerded about earlier), some original works from Matt and Maddie and a ‘Gen-Y’ reaction to Howl that I’m writing called Yawn. That’s on at the end of July at the Canning Town Hall. Should be a really good show. After that I’m really looking forward to the WA heats for this year’s national slam. Those are in August and Slams are always really exciting. Oh, and then I’m going to visit the National Young Writer’s Festival in Newcastle in October. It’s a really good year for poetry!

If you missed the link above, you can check out Jakob’s poems from Laundry Week here.

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