Whiskey with Angels

in Features

Could anyone not connected to the world of poets and poetry, recited or sung, prose or rhymed have come up with a better title for an album? The silver thread that connects the medium of poetry to an image of decadence and excess has been used to wrap a new CD offering from Gabriel Moreno. The powerful image of decadent angels corrupted by words and whiskey shared with poets sets the tone for the dialogue upon which we embark in this month’s feature. 

Gabriel Moreno is releasing a new solo album with some contributions from the ‘Quivering Poets’. It was conceived before the pandemic but no doubt tarnished and probably invigorated by the lockdown in London which saw the live ‘Poetry Mondays’ in Hackney relegated to virtual gigs, relying on sponsorship, contributions and crowd funding just to bring food to the table. 

This is a story of good news coloured by the hard times that befell an artistic community whose life blood is creating and performing poetry every week in order to keep body and soul alive whilst remaining relevant by writing about our culture in new and challenging ways. 

The life of a poet has never been easy but the lack of awareness about poetry in today’s society is dismal and a balance, if there is ever to be one, has to be restored so that art can continue to flourish and we can look back on ourselves with pride and say “we rescued poetry”. 

Can we rescue poetry and ramp it up a few notches in awareness? ‘Quivering Poet’ Gabriel Moreno does not hesitate with the answer.

“I think that it is poetry which is rescuing us rather than the other way round. These times of isolation, reconfiguration and reflection have taught us that there are lessons in humility, wisdom and beauty that are to be found in the archives of poetical creation. William Carlos Williams claimed that we would never find the news in poetry but that many people died daily for lack of what could be found there. We have to learn from poetry because in it we find the fusion between philosophy and language which informs us of the process of human consciousness and its constant evolution. 

“We must reflect on our lives and the mistakes that we are making as human beings. Poetry helps us to reconsider. It provides us with an alternative point of view; not from the ideas we express but specifically from the way innovative language is formed. We have to learn from newness and beauty. The lesson is clear; consumption in art or life was not the solution. Nature is being ravaged. We can’t exist merely to accumulate wealth. Poets have been saying this for years. It is now our duty to spread this message widely. Hopefully we can raise more awareness on this issue”. 

Maybe the community has been enriched by the isolation, or has the lockdown been detrimental to development?

“There have been many examples of our poetry and music community getting together to help and provide comfort during isolation. I‘ve experienced many benevolent and altruistic actions and I believe we have realised how important we are to each other in terms of survival and also in terms of our pursuit of recognition and happiness. There is no plenitude without the other. There is no point to excellence without our peers. We have realised we need each other to shine and make sense of poetry and music. It has been instrumental to our psychological development but quite detrimental to our economic survival. Loss of work has been devastating. We are still trying to figure out how to survive though we know we shall not stop writing or performing. 

What can London poetry take forward from the last four months that is worth keeping?

“The need for communal action, a deeper recognition of our shared ambitions, the idea that we must include a political angle to our artistic efforts and the gratefulness for many events and tours we have been able to share together. These are some of the things that we think are worth preserving from the lockdown. Now I know that we were on the right path to feeling satisfied with our work because we had the chance to share these moments and creations. Like always, we learn to appreciate what we have when it is taken from us. We hope not to commit the same mistake in future”.

How has the lockdown impacted on the making of the new album? 

“Lockdown has made me concentrate and focus exclusively on the creation of new tracks. The impossibility of rehearsals and shared recordings have forced me to create a more intimate and acoustic album which probably reflects the mood of this period, but also includes a lot of hope as I have seen how we could collaborate and create even from a distance.

‘Quivering Poet’ Pablo Yupton and I were in touch daily from Barcelona to London. I worked with QP Adam Beattie on some songs too. However, lockdown also helped create a more intimate and SOLO album. I had to postpone the performance aspects of our music and hopefully have been able to reconnect with my own creative process. My way of keeping up hope and not being defeated by anxiety and doubts”. 

Will the QP be picking up the threads again working together as a touring unit?

“We are already getting offers for the winter to perform in Germany and Italy. The break has meant that audiences have valued our previous trips and concerts. QP Pablo Yupton is moving to London soon and we shall be able to perform and tour again. We have also collaborated with QP Pablo Campos during the lockdown and he has been recording from his studio in Figueras and sending us some of his work. Unfortunately, QP Basha Bartz has had to concentrate on teaching violin in order to survive so we have not worked with her much during this period”.

Given that we have been witnesses to a uniquely horrible period in our lives have the poets that you know been capable of capitalising on these circumstances to enrich their work? 

“The poets that I know have used this time to research, study and reflect on their creations and to be more ‘present’ with their creativity. Of course, we’ve all suffered moments of defeat, where it seemed impossible to ponder on a return to everyday lives, but in general the poets I know have been very willing to continue to write and compose. It’s said that some of the most thrilling and innovative art comes from moments of crisis and this has been one of the most extreme moments we have ever experienced. 

“Personally, I think we shall come out of this darkness with more conviction and self-realisation. It may take some time before we can enjoy the comforts of the past. Now is a time to share thoughts and feelings and to resist the tyranny of capitalist enterprise so that we might be saved from an even more complicated crisis; the debacle of the human spirit.” 

The Album ‘Whiskey with Angels’ is being mastered even as I write in early July but as soon as a release date has been finalised our readers will have all the relevant information on sale platforms and pricing etc. 

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