Poetry is rock `n' roll for the bard who is worth a million

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The Independent Online
Poetry is a romantic, private and lyrical art. So when poet of the moment, Murray Lachlan Young, performed live yesterday, he was accompanied by a cellist who played snatches of Elgar's Cello Concerto.

But poetry is also the new rock `n' roll; 26-year-old Lachlan Young has just signed a pounds 1m record deal, and he needs the MTV audience. So every so often the lady on the cello banged her instrument with her hand for a pounding beat, or assaulted the strings to raise a heavy metal sound.

A 15-minute "set" at the Virgin Megastore in central London yesterday, was his first gig since EMI announced that they had signed the unpublished poet who had been touring with The Pet Shop Boys rock band.

He now has a book, compact disc and cassette coming out, a manager who also handles football stars, public relations handlers and hangers on. Thankfully, he sported a rumpled brown corduroy suit and uncombed curls to show that there is still a poet inside the packaging.

Lachlan Young's manager, Grant Black, describes his client as "very Byronesque". This, one assumes, refers to his placing his right arm behind his back, fluttering his palm and gazing with wide-eyed intent at the audience. His left hand grabs the microphone or punches the air, neither of which were known traits of Lord Byron.

Lachlan Young is a graduate of the world's first media performance degree course at Salford University. As a performance poet he is soon to tour Britain and America; and perhaps it was with stadiums in mind that he shouted into the microphone, deafening the 40 or so of us watching - 20 or so if you subtract those with television cameras and radio equipment.

Nevertheless, on stage, the tall, skinny, gesticulating poet has a certain presence, delivering his fairly simple comic rhyming verse in a variety of tones from camp to brawling football supporter to mock romantic. Performance poets down the years, from Pam Ayres to Tony Harrison, may be wondering why they missed out on pounds 1m deals. Perhaps it is that Lachlan Young has chosen his subject matter well. Nearly every poem seemed to be about the music business.

One called "Comeback Tour" began:

"A stadium packed with middle-aged males/Squeezed into tight pants, bald patch, pony tails".

Another was about the Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger impersonation included. Yet another, in anticipatory mood, was called "The Pros and Cons of Superstardom". A typical couplet went:

"Where is my bitter, twisted biographer?/Where are the bushes containing photographers?"

At the end of the show, Murray Lachlan Young was rushed away by his minders, perhaps to give him the poetic illusion of hoards of fans.

Lachlan Young had arrived on stage with pop-star laconic hauteur. "I'm going to give you some poetry, I guess," he drawled.

And that's what he did ... I guess.