Clowning around

Sleazy P The Clown, @ Fusion Festival, performing with my collective  The UNPC  . Photo credit Alice McCool

Sleazy P The Clown, @ Fusion Festival, performing with my collective The UNPC . Photo credit Alice McCool


I am interested in marrying clowning with poetry, to articulate experience through the eyes of a clown.

From performing poetry as a clown, to writing about clowns, I think there is much room for play between the clown and the poet. 

Part of the reason why I love clowning is because of the vulnerability that comes with the task of making an audience laugh, and how clowning teaches the performer to own that vulnerability. Performing poetry creates a similar state of vulnerability, but the difference is the clown engages the audience without words. What if the silence of clowning was married with the eloquence of poetry? What strange language would be born ... 

I wrote the following poem for a wonderful group of clowns called Clowns Without Borders, who offer humor as a means of psychological support to  communities that have suffered trauma.


Clowns Without Borders

Cheeks creased like babies feet,

eyes weeping warmth, belly shaking

choral laughing, showing teeth the sun.

Snorting, sputtering, crescent moon lips,

heart red noses, ocean blue hair,

unicycle races, upside down dances,

juggling for freedom, spreading smiles

on bullet ridden ground.Teaching children,

who have forgotten how to party,

the language of playgrounds,

birthdays, finding blue sky in explosive

clouds, healing barbed wire cuts

with custard pies, somersaults, trumpets

and balloons.


Some clowns eat jelly and ice cream

in quiet suburban gardens, others

wear fake blood, screaming in teenage

dreams but we cross borders

reminding families torn apart

of the warmth a laugh can bring.

When all roads  are thin and fading,

borders are concrete walls,

and the air within our lungs

is our only source of gratitude,

we have to laugh, hold hands and laugh,

even when home is a place

we used to know, national flags blow up

archaic stone, and tanks roll over buses;

we have to laugh, hold hands and laugh;

if we cannot laugh, why are we surviving?