Poet Adrian G R Scott just wants to write about Sheffield, and where it’s going
“It must have been about three years ago that I decided that I wanted to write a collection of poems about Sheffield, where it’s going and where it’s been.”
Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with Adrian G R Scott, a Sheffield-based poet, painter, photographer and (not quite a candlestick maker, but an) all around creative extraordinaire. He’s just released a collection of poems called, Made in Sheffield, alongside the musician Andy Selman.
There’s a depth and a sincerity in Adrian’s tones, something which effortlessly intertwines itself into the spoken word that’s further punctuated by the instrumental riffs and backing audio additions courtesy of Andy Selman. “The thing about poetry is often that you want it to be heard, you don’t want anything cluttering it up”, said Adrian in a recent interview.
“I started reading them at different gigs and events. Andy Selman, he’s in my wife’s band, approached me at a gig in Crosspool, and he asked ‘how would you feel if I put some music to your poems?’ I was delighted”.
“It was a bit of a risk, but since we were in lockdown and we didn’t have anything better to do… so I’d send a poem, well, record it and then it would go off and Andy would work on it. Then he’d send it back to me with an accompaniment”
Made in Sheffield is a delightfully intriguing poetic journey, a swaying unveiling of feelings, oft-deconstructed musings, elaborate expositions of perspective, discovery and an underlying love for all that encompasses the city that he grew up in, but didn’t really ‘see’ until much later on. Something he openly discusses as we make our way downstream along the River Rivelin, with the dog leading the way.
“I was a little apprehensive about how it would work out but as each poem came back, I was taken aback. I was astonished at how much it had augmented the poem, and that it made it a more powerful experience to listen to”, the use of the word augment intrigued me as I thought he would have used the term ‘enriched’, instead. But that’s the thing about talking to Adrian, everything is enriching, insightful, curious and inquisitive all at once.
Our conversation flowed with iridescent tones, against the backdrop of Rivelin’s green hue, and Adrian - stick in hand - spoke of his travels, his adventures, his work for Rites of Passage that seeks to positively and spiritually guide people, embracing vulnerability, all of which parlays into his poetry. We discussed mental health, it’s lingering impacts, how we cope (or rather don’t) when it comes to losing control, direction, purpose. As well as faith and its effect on Adrian, he had almost pursued a devoutly different path to the one he is on now — but is none the lesser for it.
We discussed some of the poems on the album, Sheffield as I See It, a sub-10-minute number that pulls out the history of the city from beneath the city’s contemporary look that many of us a familiar with, “under the city’s skin, veins of remembering, some varicose and sclerotic”, for all the change that may occur on the surface the soul of the city, its past, is but a layer of tarmac away, where “there are cobbles on Sheffield’s streets”.
Seeking Asylum is one that stands out. Perhaps it’s the subject matter. It’s the first clear display of vulnerability, perhaps a bit of guilt and frustration as well, “I’m sure some people will be thinking, who the f*** does he think he is, what does he know, why is he writing a poem about asylum seekers?” But simply put it's because he cares. That much is clear in the passion displayed throughout his spoken word, our conversation as we walked along the steadily flowing Rivelin. Sometimes you can merely empathise, care, question, try to understand without having to justify why, even if troubled migration hasn’t personally impacted him, it has had an effect… so he’s chosen to speak on the topic but most importantly he listens much more than he speaks. That is key.
Sheffield is a city that is absurdly rich in culture without the confidence (and some would say competence) to discuss the sum of its parts, good and bad. Adrian G R Scott’s poetry discusses the past, our city’s present, all while pondering the future… it gives a perspective on things, which although they may differ to mine, or to yours, I can’t help but feel that we’re all collectively enlightened both spiritually and intellectually as a result.
The album Made In Sheffield with poems by Adrian G R Scott and music by Andy Selman is out now on Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and YouTube.