Okay, so I know we said the previous blog post would be our last for the year, but we can’t really sign off without a nod to our amazing blogger Dominic Berry. Dominic has graced the Poetry&Words stage in a variety of capacities over the years, including a stint as Poet in Residence in 2017, performing a poem in the online festival in 2020, and a short, but very sweet indeed performance outside the tent for the BBC, which is hiding somewhere out there in the ether still. He is unfailingly supportive, unerringly enthusiastic and immensely sincere in his support for all the poets on stage.
Whether the tent is crammed and buzzing or filled with a smattering of sleepy festival goers, Dominic is always 100% there with the performer, whooping, joining in and generally being the best audience member ever. If we could employ him just to do that we would, but tickets are always in demand and luckily Dominic also just happens to be an amazing poet for both kids and adults (check out his website for more on that), as well as having the ability to transfer that in-the-tent enthusiasm onto the page in our blog. So thanks Dominic – for the blogging, the poetry and perhaps most of all your contagious love of all our wonderful wordsmiths. We love you right back.
The Poetry&Words tent ended in style on Sunday with the Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam, hosted by the inimitable Loud Poets, Mark Gallie and Kevin Mclean. The slam is one of the longest running in the country and played a key role in the spread of poetry slam in the UK. (P&W stage manager, Helen Johnson, has a PhD thesis on the topic if you’re interested – under her then name of Helen Gregory 😉 ) As ever, the event was full of top notch performances and wonderful words to laugh, cry, rage and muse on. After three heated rounds, the well-deserving winner of this fantastic trophy designed by awesome poet and artist, Pete Hunter was……
….. Tory Shine. We look forward to welcoming Tory back in next year’s festival. Until then, keep that festival spirit alive; keep on loving, creating, and being your wonderful, wonderful selves.
Here I am, Dominic Berry, back (not unlike Daft Punk) ONE MORE TIME, for my final blog for Glastonbury Festival 2022 Poetry&Words stage.
Here I am with an unashamedly click-bait title, to which, given who I am and what I do, you might think there is an obvious answer…..
I was chatting to some of the other poets in our little camping area backstage, and I am not the only one who has sat in the audience at poetry events (elsewhere) and thought……. ‘Is this poetry? Is this what it is? If this is what it is, do I like it? Is this good?’
Whilst allowing for tastes and other subjective factors, I’d say if a person aims to be an artist who attempts to communicate with an audience, and that audience are either bored or not understanding the art with which they are presented, I reckon that gives a strong argument for that poem (maybe that poet) being not good.
I have spent too much time at too many poetry events too full of what I have just described.
Helen Johnson is a super star. Helen, time after time, fills the Poetry&Words stage with immense talent. This year has been no different.
With every artist who I have seen perform this year, I have fully engaged. What a treat to be immersed in accessible, creative, surprising, political, personal, well-considered words.
I know this sounds gushy, but it make me feel mega humble to be considered worthy to say what I have made up as a part of this crew.
I know that there are a load of us backstage feeling that same way.
Thank you, Helen!
Helen, you are BRILL BRILL BRILL *BRILL!!*
So, the slam has happened.
Tori Shine won the slam!
It was a slam full of excellence from every slammer. I want to say a humongous WELL DONE to all who were brave enough to stand on that stage and say their words.
YES, poetry CAN be good, and this slam was epic ace.
Humans full of humanity sharing carefully crafted brilliance.
Jackie Juno’s tree poem,
Helen’s autism poem
Tori’s guns in school poems.
Helen Johnson (Poetry&Words’ Helen, a different Helen to the Helen in the slam) will post the trophy pic in a future blog.
Yay for trophies, and yay for Tori being invited to the next Glastonbury for a guest set upon the Poetry&Words stage!
Glastonbury festival Poet in Residence.
If Desree’s stage presence could be bottled and shared worldwide, our planet would be a more intelligent, empathic and interesting place.
A poem completed but 4 seconds before being recited, (according to Desree herself) a celebration of the performance of rapper Mega Thee Stallion was chock full of fun and fantastic energy.
“We drop our arse in prayer”
“It is within us water is made holy”
Talk about powerful lines!
Alongside this, a poem about the actions of R Kelly, and our reactions as the general public to his offences, was everything a poem should be. It fairly questioned me, the listener, on my choices and the need to not silently observe the very real and painful horrors of injustice. An expertly realised piece of protest art – exactly what Glastonbury festival should be delivering – and has done, thanks to Desree, so thank you Desree for your urgent and excellent poetics.
I have been (and continue to be) Dominic Berry, and I’d like to thank Helen and the team for trusting me with this blog.
I have loved writing it.
I’d like to sign off, not with my words, but with a new poem from Desree, written as part of her residency, about a small but massive moment at this year’s festival. I love this poem, and I have loved being part of this sensation.
Poetry IS good!
Much love to all.
See you again, friends!
One hand nursing a paper cup, the other, an earthquake of a palm. Trying to navigate the hoards of people, that have sprung up, on this city of a farm. But you do not let go, as you guide me through the crowd. You are armour close, squeeze my hand to calm me down.
You know I hate this part, feels like everyone is in the same place. But when the crowd grinds to a halt, you turn so we are face to face. No scrubs comes on and you start singing, a private rendition just for me. We can’t even get close to the stage, but I’ve got your version of TLC.
To all the partners and friends, lifelong ones that started today. Thank you for holding more than our hands, when we find the festival a little difficult to navigate. When my anxiety feels like drowning, in the sea of it all Thanks for turning water into waterfalls
Today, two different theatrical shows were performed on Poetry&Words stage; a preview of ‘Fanboy’ by Joe Sellman-Leava, and ‘Hello I’m Single’ by Lauren McNamara.
How did these very different pieces of drama fair on a predominantly poetry packed place?
My name is Dominic Berry, and here are my thoughts…
by Joe Sellman-Leava
I anticipated only light-hearted puns and celebrations of all things geeky in a fun but surface-level hour with Joe. I am a huge fanboy, and have seen many highly enjoyable shows about fandom, and I am very happy to sit and laugh at Star Wars puns where there is little other content. So had that been what I had got, that would have been cool.
You do not need to be a fanboy to love this show. It is hilariously funny, but its inventive, unique, surprising narrative, along with a deeply channelled, concisely articulate emotional core, are universal.
Star Wars forms one of the main analogies here. I do not know much about Star Wars. For all my love of Trek, Super Man, and countless other comics, games and movies, Star Wars has never made an impact on me. Upon discovering what a central theme Star Wars plays in this show, I wondered whether I’d get left behind.
You need know nothing about Star Wars, or any fandom, to get what is going on. I left with with profound thoughts from a show which is as rich in philosophies as it is in funnies.
There is a divisive character in Star Wars, Jar Jar Binks, who receives a great deal of attention during this story. We look at how different fans have reacted to Jar Jar in different ways, and we see how Joe has reacted to him at different ages. Joe’s changing relationship with his feelings on Jar Jar (we get to see videos of a young Joe playing with a birthday toy and these scenes are heart-meltingly innocent and hopeful) matches Joe’s changing relationship with his world, as his hope change with experience.
We get to meet several characters; a girlfriend called Gaia, a close friend called Wayne, and a kind Uncle called Obi, and as Joe gets older, his relationships with these three key figures – and how they each connect to sci fi fandom – are full of honest awareness, wit and massively memorable dialogue.
“How can you be too good?” young Joe asks when told that Superman is an objectively lesser character due to his over-powered qualities and whiter-than-white personality, reducing the conflict in his tales.
Can you be ‘too good’?
It is not just pop culture – we see the aging Joe connecting with climate change, Trump, Brexit, Boris Johnson – and we see Joe try to find a place of belonging and hope in a world increasingly only dealing in absolutes. Surely that conflict is one with which we can all relate?
Joe can do voices! From a rapid-fire recap of all the original Star Wars movies, with immaculate recreating of every character’s voice, to Muppet’s Christmas Carol to Peep Show’s Mitchel & Webb, Sellman-Leava is a stunning impressionist with perfect comic timing. I laughed so much.
“Hate leads to suffering” says Star Wars, and so says Joe, as we see the choices we each get to make on whether we unite or divide during times of strife. Will hope survive?
As we get older, does life in general just get worse and worse (as, some would say, happens with the Star Wars movie series)?
Well, as I find myself in a world increasingly full of anger, blame, cynicism and aggression, Joe Sellman-Leav’s Fanboy most definitely left me with my own ‘new hope’.
HELLO, I’M SINGLE
by Lauren McNamara
From the moment Lauren bounces onto the stage, she is immensely likeable; charming and witty whilst also creating a very safe-feeling space.
The safe space is essential, as pretty much the first thing we get is a piece of audience interaction, with people invited up on stage (no one is made to do anything they don’t wish to do!), and Lauren does this with charisma and sensitivity and bucket-loads of good humour.
It is a great technique to make us quickly get on board with Lauren as a protagonist in a quest to find that all elusive ‘true love’.
Shows about romance are hardly hard to find, so in a genre already full with so many offerings, is there anything about Lauren’s work to make it stand out?
Lots. Lauren plays multiple characters, a central one being her own 93 year old grandmother. The gran is hilarious, yet never played simply for laughs, or in any way which comes across as unbelievable for the sake of a punchline. The gran is eccentric, blunt, but loving, clearly very caring for Lauren as she attempts to track down a partner.
A particularly emotive thing, especially for me as a queer guy, was seeing a 93 year old character shown never expressing any xenophobia or difficulties with her grand-daughter wanting a woman.
This parallels my own real life experience. I am from a small family – pretty much just my mum, my mum’s mum, and me – and mum asked me not to ‘out’ myself to nan, believing the older generation ‘didn’t get it’ and we all simply had to make mega allowances for those who grew up in war time who just had ‘different ways’. Thank goodness, when I did ‘come out’, my nan never had one negative word for me, and continued to love and support me no different to before, for the rest of her life.
That is the relationship shown between Lauren and her (expertly acted) gran, and the absence of even the mention of homophobia was hugely evocative and excellent and made me feel great things in the fact such a story can exist upon our stages these days.
We also meet a number of women Lauren gets to date; Jessica the ambitious journalist, Mary with her dairy farmer father (leading a particularly well delivered calf birthing scene), and Hannah the basketball obsessed visiting American. A common thread is ‘excellent first date / disastrous second date’ and, similar to the portrayal of gran (although the girlfriends are not just played by Lauren, but by a series of small plastic barbie-like dolls, giving McNamara a comedy-gold level of interactions with each of her intendeds) these characters create moments of mirth whilst never being reduced to caricatures.
“When we hug, our bodies fit together like a puzzle piece” says Lauren about one moment with one partner. Lauren’s skills as a poet in a non-poetry show shine in this and many moments of tender and terrifically phrased monologue.
Does Lauren find the love she so deeply desires?
I am not going to spoil the end of this skilfully told tale. I will say that this wonderfully weaving narrative, significantly the developments of events effecting gran towards the end of the show, touch deeply.
I identified with similarities between Lauren and my grandmothers, and equally I identified with the challenges of duality of joy in being held when you need to be held when married with challenging or just incompatible behaviour.
All us us seek and need love. Lauren’s show truly assuredly speaks from the heart with a deft certainty that love is definitely worth continually questing for. The quest is worth its many obstacles, and accomplishing joy is within our reach. In that, each adventurer should have no single doubt.
Before I tell you how much I loved GOBLIN MARKET MUSIC (and I did *really* love them), I want to share a little about my mum and her sister.
Well, for starters, I wish she had seen this, as she would (and will) LOVE this, for reasons I will explain….
My mum and her sister are both in their mid-sixties. They were born and grew up in London, but now my mum lives in rural west Wales, and my aunt in a Buddhist retreat in Scotland. They have lived where they live for many years, and love their respective homes. As they get older, they might never meet each other in person ever again. They speak on the phone every day. They love each other very much.
How does this connect to GOBLIN MARKET MUSIC?
I am familiar and a fan of the original poetry from which this concept takes its inspiration, but GOBLIN MARKET MUSIC take the themes of sisterly love, world danger, and how far one loving sister will go to to save her sibling – these themes are really brought out powerfully by the shared vocals and amazing musicianship I heard yesterday.
I can be cynical of instruments brought to spoken word events. This is one example of a perfectly suited act, perfectly delivered, bringing tears to my eyes many times
The goblins are brought to malicious life by beautiful art drawn upstage, a mighty chorus and (importantly) clearly audible lyrics, which is essential for following the gripping narrative of these cruel creatures who put our protagonists in so much danger.
Of course, I made the connection between the women in this narrative (their voices beautifully sung by Jane and Jessie) – and my family.
Julian’s guitar and Jessie’s violin work wonderfully together – there are exquisite solos which carry us on our journey spell-bindingly – the melodies are strong and uplifting.
I adored the idea of one very specific story being told with such attention to detail and tremendous ability – i was truly transported to the land of the goblins and was with the sisters on every step of their adventure.
I have got my mum and me the CD, and I know repeat listenings will be enjoyed (I am one who loves looking at the cover art and lyrics when records have such things as part of their package, and GOBLIN MARKET MUSIC definitely delivers on what will make a brilliant birthday gift for Mum next month).
yay for love!
Thank you, GOBLIN MARKET MUSIC, and nice on Glasronbury for bringing us all together.
So, in the words of GECKO, ‘I Know I’m here, so let’s take a look around…’
Join us at Poetry&Words stage for our final day for:
Only one day left – but what a sensational day today has been.
Big big shout out to Afrodita Nikolova hosting the open mic.
Afrodita was so grounded, friendly and completely lacking in any pretension or potential to not be wholly inclusive of the crowd – a vital approach for anyone introducing potentially nervous open mic artists. The vibe was golden, and I have big respect for Afrodita for this.
Plus, the open mic was brimful of talent, varied voices and compelling content.
Victoria Shineman (pictured) was one especially awesome open mic speaker. Rocking the tent with a particularly poignant poem called From Glockenspiels to Glocks, the crowd were entranced- and an expert delivery gave truly heartfelt and awesome art.
Well done everyone on the open mic, hats off to all taking their latest or, in many cases, their first ever step into the world of spoken words. Join us join us join us!
We have had some really established names on this stage. Luke Wright, Murray Lachlan Young and Tony Walsh have all taken the mic and given their talent to our crowds. I feel really lucky to have such a welath of wordslingers here.
Tony’s set this evening brought tears to my eyes. As the headliner closing proceedings for today, his new poem about postcards and the deep meaning of travel connected powerfully with me, as did his celebration of the full history of pop music, and his classic LOVE MORE. I felt this piece especially sparking a thrilling sense of joy across the whole tent – a tangible aura in which it was a delight to be. Tony gets better and better every time I watch his work – I sincerely await whatever he does next – cos I know it will be brill.
Ok, friends, that’s your lot for today from me – although I do have much to share about how much I adored GOBLIN MARKET MUSIC – though I will do that tomorrow.
Cheers folks for a fantastic time.
party hard (maybe see you at McCartney?) and stay safe and have fun.
Man, I have heard a lot of horny poetry at Glastonbury Festival 2022!
On the Poetry&Words stage, spoken word veteran Scott Tyrrell performed his hilarious MILLS AND BONE, a bromance between him and his … pet dog?!
Scott is an artist I have eagerly followed for a number of years now, not least of all at his many stunning Glastonbury Festival appearances. I always adore his mixing of deep, skilful poetics with genuine laugh-out-loud humour.
Scott’s ‘sexy voice’ he does for his dog speaking to its master is hilarious … yet, it can’t just be me who finds these many barotones proper erotic?
I reckon Scott is unique in his powerful pacing between the comic and tragic, hysterical and heart-warming – hearing Scott is always a full and fabulous treat.
We have Rosy hosting Poetry&Words stage this morning. Nice!
At Tongue Fu, I had the collar-adjusting experience of hearing her hot-as-heck poem for midnight fantasies; for feeling pathetic, lonely, desperate … and ‘kinda sexy’ … and (not gonna get too graphic on a general public blog) being on ones own and choosing to act upon such feelings in a rewarding manner!
Rosie is epic good. The poetry is epic good. Full of feeling, holistically gripping and instantly memorable – no one betters Rosie at what Rosie so superbly does.
Flipping heck, there was a whole lots of stupendous stuff in the set of Poet RS. They speak with great insight and empathy on ‘what is beauty’, and a poem is shared which is full of sexiness (Poet RS is a phenomenal stage presence) and tenderness and truth. An enrapturing delivery, from an artist relatively new to the scene, but with enviable lyrical nimbleness and lightning rhythms.
There is a lot of crossover in what I like to write about and what Poet RS shared in their set. My personal favourite piece from poet RS was CARTOON KID, simultaneously celebrating the animations of yesteryear, and delving into the morals and messages these seemingly lightweight entertainments can often contain.
The poem CARTOON KID influenced me choosing to share my poem 8 BIT BUDDY in my set, about my connection with retro games – and the ride such media can lead us on.
Nostaligia is alive and kicking!
Hearing of Poet RS’s journey from poverty was poetry was sobering, sincere, and yet … still sizzlingly sexy! Not wishing to distract from the sublime stanzas, but this is a poet who knows how to rock a mic, and leaves an unforgettable image in the mind. Exceptional.
Can’t wait to hear more as this is clearly just the start of what will be a long career for a talented human with much to say.
The rest of my set was a privilege and meant the earth to me.
THANK YOU Poetry&Words for booking me, thank you everyone who listened and cheered my verses – especially the new ones like CRYING CAFE and PLAYGROUND FANTASY on which I was a little nervous – saying lines so fresh from my mind. I am grateful and gleeful and buzzing!
Stay tuned to this blog for chat about the super open mic, hosted by the glorious Afrodita Nikolova.
It is Friday, HOO-RAY, and here we are with the Glastonbury Festival 2022 Poetry&Words blog!
I am Dominic Berry, your Poetry&Words blogger, and what a day I have had immersing myself in poetry….
We started with GECKO … and now we close with JOHN HEGLEY, performing to a packed tent, controlling the crowd masterfully with perfect comic timing and excellent presence on and off stage (there is a fair bit of stepping into the audience). Hit singles like LUTON and GUILLEMOT go as grandly as you’d expect from a verse veteran of Hegley’s standing, but new poems like SHEPTON MALLET PUBLIC TOILETS are also a treat to hear. Top of the shop.
MARK GALLIE performed a particularly powerful and unique set earlier today. He is the only artist to get deep into ghost stories and bring a hint of horror to his rhymes. Spooktacular! His love poem for a person he has yet to meet opened what was a memorising and memorable selection of stanzas (even if this fictitious work does annoy his real-life actual girlfriend, for probably obvious reasons – not least of all that he wrote the first draft of this after she and he had met!). Mark always brings us a wide-awake wild, witty and wam-bamming hurricane of inventive imagery.
MARK is one of the LOUD POETS hosts, and they are an impressive presence at the Scottish Storytelling Centre every Edinburgh fringe, so if you visit this summer you’d do well to check them and their excellent art out.
PLUS… this lad is co-hosting the SLAM here at 5 on Sunday, and you definitely do not wanna miss that!
And ……. so concludes FRIDAY at Poetry&Words tent!
Dunno about you, but I’m off to dance with Fatboy Slim at Sonic this evening.
I’ll be blogging about loadsa poets tomorrow too – not least of all **ME** – as I am on at 12.35, and I reckon I’ll come on here afterwards and write some pretty good reviews of my own contribution. Hahahaha!
FULL SATURDAY LINE-UP:
11.30 GECKO (I hope he performs his new Glastonbury tune again!)
and then… 12.05 POET RS
12.35 DOMINIC BERRY (let me hear you say way-oh…. way ohhhh!)
Here we are at Glastonbury Festival 2022 Poetry&Words stage!
Boom boom boo, boom boom!
I am here, your blessed blogger Dominic Berry, lapping up the rhythms and rhymes and reporting back on who I have seen and what I have heard and what wonders we still have coming on ….. at Poetry&Words.
Ben is firmly established as a staple of the international spoken word scene. Ben’s insightful angle on modern living and the importance of engaging with positive, realistic talk on mental health is urgent and ace. His set was top.
SUE is a poem ben has made celebrating a Dad’s new partner. It is an honest and heart-warming look at a human with all their fabulousnesses and flaws. On a wider level, it made me think of how we all interact with those on the peripheries of our family, and how at first seemingly fleeting moments can have a lasting, grounding sense of new belonging.
MAKE-UP ARTIST is a sobering poem exploring one moment of intense intimacy with a stranger. It contains the line ‘it is easier to love someone you don’t yet know’, which resonated greatly with me.
A superb set from a superb artist – equally full of smiles and sensitivities.
Then…. next on was Culain Wood……..
Glastonbury 2022 is not Culain’s first Glastonbury, but as a relatively new arrival on the spoken word circuit, it is his first booked as an artist.
His work is amazing.
Culain’s poetry is enviously accessible, inspiringly crafted and full of integrity, humility and fragility. It takes great confidence to be so compellingly fragile upon a stage, as Culain is when he speaks of his daughter, now living with his ex-partner, inviting him to ‘her house’ for a party. Culain’s sadness at no longer being able to be his daughter’s ‘everything’ is immediately relatable and expertly phrased. The vulnerability Culain trusts his audience with when he performs is awesomely powerful.
A poem about the recent self-outing of Blackpool’s gay footballer, a mere 20 seconds in length, brought tears to my eyes. A rhyme reporting real heard conversation …. exploring what it used to be and what it now is to be seen as queer – this is a supremely important and excellent piece.
Another of the many highlights of Culain’s set was his COULD DO MORE poem. This is a set of stanzas not merely written to give ourselves a pat on the back for doing the ‘right’ thing, nor to finger-point at anyone in a way which does not include the artist himself – this poem truly made me think about how I engage with the planet and what more I can do … and will do … to be a better human.
To be a better human.
Culain’s set made me want to be a better human.
It’s as big as that!
Top work, mate!
Did you miss Ben or Culain?
Ben Norris is on at Poetry&Words again tomorrow just after 3pm.
Culain is again on right after Ben, tomorrow at half three.
If you’re in Glastonbury for the festival come on down to the Poetry&Words stage for an inspired, inspiring and excellent time.
Anything I write about KID ANANSI will not do justice to this phenomenal, political, powerful, funny, hyper ball of pure energy and lyrical dexterity.
It were good!
I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing a Kid Anansi set before just now, and I could not have asked for more. Proper! I laughed put loud at the I AM SO STRAIGHT poem (drawing dresses on spider-man PJs so it can’t be said he slept with a load of men on top of him = class), I had tears in my eyes at the STAGES OF GRIEF, and have never shared such affection for a pillow with Ainsley Harriot’s face upon it before today! It can’t be easy choosing which props to take to Glastonbury, but this was indeed a prop well selected for a brilliant poem.
I particularly connected with the brace of stanzas with the repeated refrains. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO BROKE hit hard (for yes, I have, and the wit and wisdom of this piece cut deep!) and the lockdown verse, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO LONELY, was equally hilarious and shattering with universal truth.
An expert at the dramatic pause between quick fire rhymes and mesmerising imagery – KID ANANSI is an artist whose work I shall eagerly seek out to again experience.
You missed this set?
KID ANANSI is back at the Poetry&Words stage tomorrow at just gone 2pm!