Bobba Cass is a gay, grey poet and performer. He has been a part of WORD! for fourteen years and also organises ‘Pinggg…K’, a monthly open mic night in celebration of metrosexual verse. WORD!'s Abi Willock caught up with him for an exclusive interview…
Abi: Where does your love of poetry and spoken word come from?
Bobba: There was a lot of popular verse said in my working class childhood home in the States. I wrote doggerel as a youngster. Growing up in the States, the poetry of Sandburg, Dickinson and Frost were commonplace. I have a collection of sonnets, fourteen. Shakespeare's sonnets, many to his gay lover, have been inspirational. I studied English literature to an advance level but it was only after meeting the Leicester woman I married that I learned from her the joy of reading poetry aloud. Friends in Leicester encouraged me in 2008 to come to a WORD! event, then held on Welford Road. I never looked back.
Abi: What or who are your biggest inspirations?
Bobba: My biggest inspirations are all of the beautiful people who have celebrated spoken word poetry in Leicester, among them Carol Leeming, Lydia Towsey, Alison Dunne, Michael Brome and Mellow Baku. Central to all of these poets is Jean 'Binta' Breeze, who gave of her heart to all of us in Leicester. I owe Jean an enormous amount.
Abi: What does it mean to you to be a grey, gay poet?
Bobba: Well, I’m gay and a grandad as well. I have been married, and I have seven grandchildren. I came out as a gay man in the late 80's when I was just over fifty years of age. I am now 84. I will be celebrating the energy from a crucial experience in 1993 during my spoken word contribution at WORD!. It means the 'centrality of my disposition,' the presence of a not always coherent passionate response to personal and world-wide events.
Abi: What are you reading right now?
Bobba: It is more a matter of what I am listening to right now. Listening is crucial for me as a poet. I am hearing so many voices, as it were, while I read daily the Guardian, bi-monthly London Review of Books, and occasionally books that are put in front of me by those who love me.
Abi: What advice would you give to a young aspiring poet?
Bobba: Above all LISTEN. Always have something to write on and write with at hand, and when you hear phrases or more, write them down immediately. Poetry often defies syntax and therefore key inspirational phrases may be hard to remember. Speak out your poems and you will hear where they are trite or forthright. Find others to share your poetry with and listen to theirs, too, and value what they are giving to you as well as what you are giving to them.
Bobba will headline WORD! at Attenborough Arts Centre on Thursday 22nd September 2022. To book your ticket ring the Box Office on 0116 2522455 or head to https://www2.le.ac.uk/hosted/attenborougharts/whatson