Aware that poetry isn’t a proper job, Rowan McCabe created his own and is now the world’s first and only Door-to-Door Poet. He spends his days in Newcastle upon Tyne, bothering people in the comfort of their homes (or, as he insists is the case, ‘finding out what is important to them’).
Rowan also performs on stages as well as doorsteps and he’s appeared at Glastonbury Festival and The Royal Albert Hall. He was the winner of the 2015 Great Northern Slam and his work has been featured on BBC Radio and in The Guardian.
“The most interesting contribution to cultural life from anyone in poetry recently” – Sophia Walker
“Moves seamlessly from hilarious anecdote to poignant poem and back again” – The Journal
Born in South Shields, Rowan was raised by a punks and hippies in a housing estate in Hebburn. Showing an interest in poetry from an early age, he went on to study English Literature at Newcastle University and graduated in 2011.
In 2012 Rowan represented the North East in the Next Generation Poetry Slam at the Bristol Poetry Festival, in which a team of poets from around the country competed against Bristol’s finest young talent. He performed alongside Indigo Williams, Ben Norris, Carrie Aaron and Ben Lawrence and they were judged to be the winning group. He was also commissioned that year to write a piece in honor of Apples and Snakes’ 30th Anniversary and to perform this at the Free Word Centre in London that November. He was one of a group of nine poets selected, which included class acts such as Ross Sutherland and Tshaka Campbell.
In 2014 Rowan was awarded a grant from Arts Council England to create North East Rising, a show of performance poetry about his love/hate relationship with his home town. Produced by Rowan and Arts Centre Washington, it challenged the way the North East is represented in the media and discussed the meaning of North East culture. The script and published poems were edited by Kirsten Luckins and Kate Fox provided dramaturgical support throughout. Touring North East theatres in Autumn 2014, North East Rising sold out at Northern Stage and was reviewed well in the press, gaining 4 stars from The Journal and a shining response from Cuckoo Young Writers.
At the start of 2015 Rowan became an Associate Artist for Live Theatre along with poets Matt Miller and Matilda Niell. The three of them started work on a play that had some poems in it and ended up writing Red is the New Blue, a story about three everyday flawed people who are sent to live on Mars forever for a reality TV show. The play was based on the Mars One project and questioned what happens when scientific discovery is put in the hands of private, profit-making organisations. The show had a sell-out run when it first appeared at Live in June 2015 and was shown again in January 2016, this time on Live’s main stage.
In November 2015 Rowan also became the world’s first door-to-door poet. He began knocking on strangers’ doors and writing them poems about things they feel are important. Through doing this he asks: Can poetry be enjoyed by everyone? And: Are strangers really as scary as the media would have us believe? He is currently making plans to take this idea global and there is more info on his progress at: http://www.doortodoorpoetry.com