Review: Sean Lìonadh’s launch of Not Normal Anymore

Credit: Sean Lìonadh

Katrina Williams
Deputy Culture Editor – Books

Tuesday’s poetry night at Inn Deep is a longstanding tradition. But tonight, there’s something even more special about it – Sean Lìonadh, Glaswegian poet and creator of the viral video “Time for Love”, is celebrating the launch of his new poetry collection, Not Normal Anymore.

I had the chance to talk with Sean prior to his performance. We discussed his caution with poetry as a medium, alongside the effect “Time for Love” has had on him as an artist:

“It moved me, definitely,” he says. “I had hundreds of strangers on the internet basically coming out to me.”

Despite this outpouring of attention, Sean is decisively down to earth and humble about his work. On the subject of the platform he’s gained from the video, he says “I seriously consider how I use it. I feel a responsibility towards it, especially in TED, and it definitely allows me to figure out what I want to say. But, standing up and saying what you think, it really makes you interrogate yourself and your thoughts.”

Thoughtfulness is a theme that recurs throughout the event. After we disperse, it’s time to truly begin the evening. There are plenty of talented wordsmiths sharing the stage tonight, with the majority of them being LGBTQ+. Their poetry explores facets of their identity beautifully, with a healthy helping of laughs along the way. These performances bring the room together, and prepare us for what’s to come.

Sean’s performance is intimate and nuanced. Part of this comes from how, by this point, we’re all packed into the venue like sardines, jostling our knees together on the floor. But it’s mostly due to Sean’s charm as a performer, and the immediate determination you can sense beneath his words. Despite his mention of his initial caution regarding poetry, he plays skillfully and powerfully with his words, dancing between poems such as “Safe Middle Class” and “Gay Club”. Each one is performed with a delicate touch, stepping between light-hearted humour to sincerity at just the right moments.

Interestingly, Sean takes the opportunity to perform some songs, sung in a low reverb with accompaniments on guitar and violin. He had mentioned to me that music is something he’s interested in pursuing, and these melodies, incorporating both spoken word and his own deep singing, are a pleasant surprise to tie the night together. It’s magical, filling up the space so gently that the entirety of the audience holds its breath, afraid that the bubble will pop. But, of course, it doesn’t, and Sean moves easily into a performance of “Time for Love” as the night begins to wind down.

Awe-inspiring is the only way to describe the next few minutes. This is where Sean shines the most, through a passionate outpouring of sentiment which captures the room entirely. The final lines of the poem are met with a round of applause that seems to stretch on forever – and Sean is totally deserving of it.

After the night is over, I get the chance to explore his book, Not Normal Anymore, in my own time. It collects a range of his poetry, alongside his TEDx talk at the University of Glasgow. I am particularly enamoured with “Signs”, a short and sweet exploration of self-inflicted prophecies, and “Forgive Me This Twitch”, the final poem in the collection, giving gentle meaning to averted eye contact.My overall impression of Sean and his collection is one of aforementioned thoughtfulness. There’s meaning to each and everything he says and does, which is both clear in the orchestration of his poems within the book, and in the performance of his eclectic set. In future, he’s looking to continue with music as well as produce his first feature-length film, Nostophobia, exploring a gay relationship bound together by supernatural powers which at first elevate their relationship, before tearing it apart. But for now, you can purchase his debut collection, Not Normal Anymore, on his website.