Girls who Read and Poetry Swoon

A ShallowReader Review
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I was invited back to 702ABC to talk books on The Blurb with Linda Mottram and I suggested we talk about male authors in honour of Movember. Part of the show includes a review of a book but the last male novelist I had read was Vasilis Papatheodorou’s YA novel Alpha and I didn’t feel that my Greek language skills were up to a translation review. Instead, I decided to discuss British poet, rap battler and educator Mark Grist and to review his poem “Girls Who Read”.
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You could hear the collective swoon from every bookish soul scouring the web last week when Mark Grist posted a video of his poem “Girls Who Read”. In the space of a week this video has had over 2 million hits which is something you don’t usually associate with poetry.
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Grist is in a pub, amongst mates, all swapping stories about what physical attributes they like in a girl. When it comes to his turn, he talks about how he wants a girl who reads. It isn’t as though he doesn’t like her attributes – her tits or ass or other bits – they matter too. It’s just that he likes a girl who reads, for this is what makes her “interesting and unique.”
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This poem is  joyful, impertinent, and describes a reader whose choices range from novels with gravitas to  ephemeral magazines, classics to racy blockbuster author Jilly Cooper (OMG! Re-enactment time!) and that this all makes her appealing. Girls reading having sex appeal and world appeal truly comes through in this poem that was written in a night. I love a poem that rhymes, rolls and rhythms but what I absolutely adore about this one is that it embraces the written word without judgement. Where some writers may have balked at mentioning Jilly Cooper and Heat Magazine, Grist grins and delights in it.

.Oh! This poem makes my heart sing.

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As a dedicated, obsessive reader that I am, and particularly because I have a predilection for paratextual reading, I found Mark Grist’s website, read through his poems there and then followed his links to his performances. He appears in several of Don’t Flop (a rap battle league in England)’s youtube clips. It’s set up like a boxing ring where rappers verbal spar against each other around raucous crowds. It’s awesome!  There is an epic Slam Battle against a 17 year old called Blizzard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp4wEewrQdU where the smackdown from Grist is brilliant. There is also a Book Slam Podcast with Grist reading his poem Beth Builder who deflated his youthful heart and led him to being his current self. http://www.bookslam.com/podcast/52/episode-50
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Mark Grist’s poetry will appeal to those of us who enjoy verbal sparring, rhymes and cheekiness with a sprinkling of fruity language. His poetry is a Tony Curtis sparkle and his improvised wordsmithing will leave you excited to read more.
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