Failing To Live Up To The Stereotype
A collaboration between James (Punk Poet) Yu & Karagh Byrne
James (Punk Poet) Yu
"Hello. I’m James, and I post poems on TikTok, where you can follow me @punkpoetry. My influences include Jay-Z, Stewart Lee, Simon Rich and Chris Rock. Everyone who enjoys my stuff appears to think I’m more like John Cooper Clarke and Mike Skinner. That’s cool too, ‘cause they’re both amazing.
Last year, I watched a YouTube video of an inspirational American High School speaker commanding their audience to go forth and defy the stereotypes in which they were held. It was beautiful, heartfelt, and powerful. So much so, it immediately made me imagine my Uncle Wai, who is a total no-good loser and all-round disappointment to his family, appealing to British East Asian children not to try hard at school, work hard, or even manage to stay out of jail. I then imagined everyone else in my life defying their own stereotypes in the worst ways possible. This poem is the result.
I’m planning on getting out of the house soon and attending some spoken word events in London. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.
P.S. I wear a white balaclava on TikTok, which I decided on in order to hide my identity from my mates (it didn’t work but people expect it now so I’m inexplicably still wearing it). I’m not wearing it in this picture because…well, you can probably work that out for yourself."
"My name is Karagh Byrne, a freelance illustrator from the East Midlands, UK. My work combines pencil textures with bold colours. I love HB pencils, cups of tea and sunsets, and can often be found drawing with my dog Toby sat on my lap.
I created this piece in response to “Failing To Live Up To The Stereotype” and from my first time reading the poem, I knew that I wanted to focus on the idea of stereotypes and fitting in. The illustration shows this idea of “fitting the mould” in quite a playful way, showing “moulds” or outlines of different characters mentioned in the poem, and the writer standing looking over at them.
I went for a lively and fun look as this is the feeling the poem evoked for me, and this is also represented in the bright colours I used. I loved this poem and thoroughly enjoyed creating this work to go alongside it. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!"
karaghbyrne.com / @karaghbyrne on Instagram and Twitter