Featured Artist: Julian Ramsey-Wade

Julian_r-w

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
Some of the facts may be distorted by memory – this is Glastonbury we’re talking about after all. I think I first went to the festival in the early 90’s and connected with the Poetry&Words Tent in 1997’ish’. I’m just not sure. I was still cutting teeth as a naïve performer when I first enrolled into the community that Pat V T West had created there as a performer, doing a 15 minute set at first. 

Back in Bristol, I co-hosted and coordinated the Verscity Slam for 3 or so years, with my wife Christine E Ramsey-Wade, and on the back of that we were invited to host the Glastonbury Poetry Slam at least a couple of times. That was a real privilege; we got to give away guest performer tickets for the following year to the winners. We were, quite literally, invited to a place we love to do a thing we love which resulted in us giving artists we loved a prize they loved.

Speaking of love, there is a real soul connection too; Glastonbury Festival is one of my favourite places on earth, I love it, and I love the essence of the artists, performers and poets that the environment tends to attract. I’ve been back a few times since, most recently as host of the open mic. in 2010; that too was a real privilege, sharing in the creation of the magic.

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry & Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Artistic, routes, extravagstanza.

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
In three more words? Get a ticket.

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
Yes. I could name 20 before pausing to draw breath for thought; but if we are sticking at just two, I must choose wisely… Wait… I actually can’t do this, so instead I will tell you that these aren’t my “favourite poets” per se, but… Soul Thomas Williams’ performance of “Ohm” in the 1996 US national finals from the film Slam Nation is one of the single most inspiring performances of Hip Hop / Slam / Poetry fusion that I’ve ever seen:

You can’t write lines like, “I burn seven day candles that melt into twelve inch circles on my mantle and spin funk like myrrh” without someone pointing out how awesome that is. He won the individual prize that year.  Rudyard Kipling’s “If” (voted the nation’s favourite poem) is another of my all time ever things, in and out of the world of poetry:
http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_if.htm

 
Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Ha, don’t get me started! Contradictions. When apparently good people have polarized views, either they have something to learn, or I do.


Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
The Galleries shopping centre in Bristol was unusual; people don’t come to a shopping centre to listen to poetry, do they? It was a very rewarding feeling when people did stop. At one point we had people peering over the balconies from the two floors above us. But, hands down, a rock bar in Den Heldar, Holland, was definitely the most challenging. It was a place where Friday night drinkers came to listen to loud music.  It was rowdy and I didn’t think they could even understand what we were saying; I actually thought we were going to get lynched at one point but it turns out they loved us. As the barman put it, “Things would have been a lot worse if they didn’t like you!”

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
A table. Da dum dum ching! My wife, kids and the daze job keep me busy, but I do find time for my bi-weekly outlet, Acoustic Night Bristol. Also, I have been looking back through about 5 years of unfinished ideas with a view to completing them as works. After reading an article on Facebook that I found shared by the troubadour that is known as Jo Bell, “20 top tips for writers,” I came to realize how much I needed to be reminded that writing and editing are two separate processes. This has really re-opened the channels for the juices to flow through. Amazing how much more you can achieve when you switch your self-critical gene off. This doesn’t mean that I’ll have a load more performable pieces but it does mean I’ll have more pieces and I reckon that one, two or a few of them will be performable by the time I’m done.

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Purple. Let’s put this in a sentence, shall we? “I watched her pull her purple cart up to the line that marked the start of the shooting gallery, or range.” “Pint” is another tough one.

Q9) Can we have a poem please?
OK. This is from the Skype overload slam, the world’s first, and currently last, Skype video link poetry slam. Bristol VS Melbourne from opposite sides of the world! I think this is the only available video there is of any of my work so, oh well:

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
I don’t do self-promotion. Come to Acoustic Night in Bristol, so that we can learn more about your work:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Acoustic-Night-Bristol/116688498377873

 

 

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Featured Artist: Alfred Lord-Telecom

Alfred_lord_telecom

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?

It’s one of those co-incidences that can happen on a planet like ours.

 

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?

Words, words, words.

 

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?

We’re drawn to the spectacle, but discover each other.

 

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?

Eliot; Basho.

 

Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?

Men who neither bleed nor dream; arctic animals; scientific implements; anything that’s dirty perfect.

 

Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?

Moran’s Builders Merchants in Kilburn.

 

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?

This sentence.

 

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?

Melange

 

Q9) Can we have a poem please?

The Song of Festival’s End

 

The dark hand on the clock is hitting midnight
There’s a raven got away with someone’s eye
The bells should all be tolling
But you know the bells got stolen
Along with all the things we brought to life
The place where we’ve been staying is well, noisy
There are craters where we used to park the car
And recently explosions have caused some slight erosion
But happily there’s lager in the bar
It seems to me the stage is set for carnage
And the kind of wounds that never ever heal
And though it might much less frightening if we took away the lightning.
All of us here gathered agree that’s it’s ideal

 

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?

When you do, please let me know.

 

Featured Artist: Tony Walsh AKA Longfella

Longfella

Photo by Bohdan Piasecki

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?

I first performed on the Poetry&Words stage in 2005, which was less than a year after my first open mic performance in Manchester. It was my first ever festival and, despite it being a very muddy year and coming across a death scene in my first hour on site (!!), I was hooked. I was a guest performer again in 2007 and joined the selection committee and production team in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, I was delighted to be asked to be the Poet in Residence for the festival website that year. That was a great honour and a big responsibility which I tried to make the most of – weedling my way onto the TV and radio with it and into the Q magazine Glasto special edition.  When Billy Bragg phoned me after the festival, my life was complete!

 

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?

Very, very special.


Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?

Quite simply, it’s one of the most incredible things that happens on this planet! The fence around the site, with the car parking outside, is something like eight miles around. Did I read somewhere that there are 35,000 performers and crew on site before they let the paying public in? There are dozens of programmed stages, as well as round-the-clock performances in the countless little tents and bars which spring up to feed and water the 135,000 or so paying punters. In addition, there are hundreds of fantastic spaces that people work incredibly hard to create, where all sorts of random wonderfulness happens around the clock. You’ll find sixty foot high fire-breathing robots, fairy lit grottos, illuminated mini-lakes, post-apocalyptic cityscapes – unbelievable variety and scale. It’s actually so big that it’s, in effect, several festivals all happening at once and you need never visit the ones that don’t appeal. From the chilled out Healing Fields to the dance tents is a walk of between 45 minutes and a million miles. Visiting the hill which looks down over the whole site, especially at night with all the fires and lights, is like visiting the celebration party after one of the battles in Lord of the Rings.  (Warning: may contain bongos.)

 

Having now been to lots of the summer festivals several times each in recent years, I can honestly say that there’s something distinctly different in the air at Glastonbury.  Whilst some would say it’s become more commercial in recent years, for me, it retains a distinctly ethical, and some would say spiritual vibe. I tried to capture all of the above, and especially the latter point in my poem ‘Why Glastonbury’, as part of my website residency in 2011. You can see it here, accompanied by a slideshow of photos by Rohan van Twest. (Wow, it’s up to 11,000 hits on YouTube since I last checked!):  

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?

Few poets have ever moved me to tears and that exclusive club includes Polarbear, Kate Tempest, John Hegley, Canada’s Shane Koyczan, and Pamela Brown of Northern Ireland’s Poetry Chicks. Other excellent poets are also available.
Ed.  Oh Tony.  We knew you wouldn’t be able to resist naming more than two!  We love you for it though 😉

   
Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
All sorts of things, but often it’s led by words and phrases. I’ll notice a pleasing rhyme like “jaffa cakes/gaffa tape” or “cardamom seeds/cardigan sleeves” and work up a piece from that. Or a line will come to me, maybe a title, or a start/end line, sometimes a repeated hook line. In collating poems for my collection I’m becoming clearer about my obsessions: my comedy stuff is mainly quite rude, whilst my serious stuff clusters around love affairs – both gloomy and glorious, loneliness and isolation, parent/child relationships, personal politics, current affairs, popular culture, science, the environment, mortality… all sorts. There are no rules; why constrain yourself?


Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?

The most unusual sounding place is certainly inside Stalin’s Penis! (That’s the local nickname for the phallic, towering Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw, Poland where I performed as a guest of the British Council in 2008.) Other memorable locations include: a building site, The British Library, in Second Life, on BBC TV and radio, in a working cotton mill, in prisons, from a pulpit, on the banks of the Liffey, at two funerals, under a giant wicker frog, on a moving barge and on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral for Occupy LSX. Oh, and then there was the naked photo shoot in a country park…


Q7) What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working full-time with my writing, performing and teaching these days, so it’s a veritable whirlwind of workshops, commissions, gigs and sitting around in my pyjamas. I’ll be bringing my first poetry collection with an accompanying CD out next year and touring that, hopefully including a short stint in Edinburgh. I was in Ireland this summer and plan to return in 2013.  I’m also collaborating variously with a visual artist, an animator, some film students, and I’m determined to do something soon with the dozen or more songs that I’ve written.  My first short piece of theatre will be performed in Manchester before Christmas and that’s also something that I’d like to do more of. 


Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?

I tell my students to make it easy for themselves. If, after going through the alphabet they fail to find a passable rhyme, I suggest that they try and say the same thing in a different way or using a different end word. Tangerine is much easier to rhyme and Satsuma could inspire you to, oh, I don’t know…turn into a crap crooner of rap tunes, or chat sooner about that chat-roomer, the fat goon with the prat humour who shat sooner than a rat bhuna zoomed through a twat’s bloomers after numerous humorous cat groomer rumours loomed gloomier than a vast tumour on a chap’s kahunas. Or something.

 

Q9) Can we have a poem please?
My tribute poem to Glastonbury legend John Peel, performed live on 6Music, is still on the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00ht7c0 On the day that Jo Whiley played this on Radio 2 on John Peel Day, it entered the BBC Glastonbury iPlayer chart where it reached number 3 amongst U2, Elbow, Coldplay and Beyonce. I’d like to think that Peelie would have had a little chuckle at that.  


Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?

You can find all links and further info at my website  www.longfella.co.uk  Caution:  Longfella(dot)com is a VERY different website!   I also spend far too much time on Twitter at @LongfellaPoet

Featured Artist: Paula Varjack

Paula_varjack2

Photo by Bohdan Piasecki

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
I have performed for the last two years. I performed in 2010 and was honoured to go just before John Hegley’s set, and then again  in 2012 I had the pleasure of compering with Dreadlock Alien.

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Engaging, entertaining, storytelling

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
It’s a world unto itself, with as much art, music, and other creative happenings as you can imagine, 24 hours a day, 3 days in a row, for thousands of people. Its a community that builds itself for this period,  only to disappear right after.

 Ed. The festival runs from Wednesday to Sunday now, so you get even more days of festivities for your money!

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
E. E. Cummings and Lemn Sissay

Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
R
eflection, frustration, the pace of cities, social mishaps, overheard conversations, otherness, desire

Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
Either a) a former foundry in northern Germany (now a gallery) or b) a former tax office in Berlin (now an art space).

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
My masters in performance making at Goldsmiths, and a new solo show ‘The Anti-Social Network’ that I will be taking to the fringe this summer.

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Storage

Q9) Can we have a poem please?

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
http://about.me/paulavarjack

 

Featured Artist: Adam Kammerling

Adam_kammerling3

Photo by Bohdan Piasecki

 

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?

I performed at Glastonbury, Poetry&Words in 2011. It was reet nice, so it was.

 

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?

Mudsurfer’s beach stop.

 

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?

It’s a city, full of nice people and loons, where everything is awesome except going to the toilet.

 

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?

I can name you fifty. But today I will go for Sally Jenkinson and Dizraeli. Sally, for being a wonderful poet with a very distinctive voice, and for being an absolute grafter, a tireless promoter and a massively good egg.  Dizraeli for producing such consistently moving, excellent and articulate music. And for being a G.

 

Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?

Anything can inspire me to write. The most recent thing was an interestingly worded sign. Train travel used to get me scribbling a lot. New places always pull something out of me. Everything and nothing, basically. When the muse is there you have to grab it, wrestle it into submission and rinse it.

 

Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?

On the tube from Victoria to Highbury. Raymond Antrobus, who is a bona fide BOSS, myself and The Ruby Kid performed some poems with John Sands and Ken Arkind from America. Surprisingly, people got into it. 

 

Or maybe Poland. At a dance festival.

 

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a follow up to ‘The Letters’ EP, which I released earlier this year. You can listen to it here http://adamandcuth.bandcamp.com  It was really well received and I’m very proud of it. Check it out.


I’m a member of the Chill Pill collective and we’ve got some great shows coming up soon at the Albany in Deptford. Follow @chillpilluk for updates on that stuff.


I’ve been working with a live band for about a year and we’ve been blessed with some cracking shows. It’s time we got in the studio, so watch out for that too.  I’m always working on new poems and tunes. The set has to evolve or I’ll stagnate and turn grumpy…

 

…’Lots of things’ is the short answer!

 

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?

I’m not getting pulled into this again. I once fell out with a housemate because they wouldn’t agree Don Cheadle rhymed with Hot Treacle. Admittedly rappers blur assonance and rhyming, but I say, ‘if it feels good, do it.’ Does that answer your question?

No?

Alright, ‘lozenge’.

Happy?

Ed.  Yes, thank you Adam.  I feel much better now! 😉

 

Q9) Can we have a poem please?

Of course. Here’s something a bit weird:

 

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?

At adamkammerling.co.uk where there are some videos and a bit more about me. You can follow me on Twitter @adamkammerling or add me on Facebook at the same name. Or come to a show and ask me a question.

 

Featured Artist: Anna Freeman

Anna_freeman2

Photo by Bohdan Piasecki

 

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
I grew up going to Glastonbury Festival every year, and it was the first place I remember seeing poetry performed, so in a sense it gave me my start. 2011 was my first, and so far only, experience of actually being part of Poetry&Words, and it was just such a lovely place to be as well as to perform. My best friend was pregnant at the time so we had a more gentle festival than in previous years.  We made Poetry&Words our base and spent four days lounging about, watching a plethora of gorgeous poetry, punctuated by occasional excursions into the bustling madness.

 

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Much-needed creative oasis.

 

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
Joyful anarchy… a city in the fields… a reminder that we’re sweaty, smelly, sensory animals, and yet, amazing, visionary beings capable of arranging complex wonders.

 

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
Only two? Arg – difficult. Um… Shane Koyczan is one of my favourite poets alive – his poem ‘Move Pen Move’ still makes me cry, even though I’ve heard it so often I know all the words. And I saw Rob Auton’s show ‘Yellow’ recently, which made me laugh with a kind of bubbling incredulousness. I don’t think there’s another show like it out there. But I could just as easily list another hundred poets I think are brilliant. That might be boring for you, though. I’ll do it later, when I can’t sleep.

 

Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Well, mostly I just write autobiographical comedy. It’s just me, making fun of my own feelings, basically. I’ve just tried to turn my own self-absorption into a reason for people to pay me attention while I talk about myself. Then they clap me. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

 

Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
I mutter to myself in the toilets before most gigs – does that count?

 

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing a show with Chris Redmond, supported/greatly enhanced by the musicians from the Tongue Fu band. (Tongue Fu is Chris’ poetry-to-improvised music night that runs monthly in London at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green.) Our show is a kind of spoken word musical comedy, about how different life would be if only we had a soundtrack. We’re a bit over-excited about it. It debuts in January at Bristol Old Vic as part of their Ferment festival and we have all kinds of plans for it after that – we’ll see how many of them come true. If nothing else, we’ve had a proper laugh writing it.

 

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Banana.

 

Q9) Can we have a poem please?
Here’s a video of me, performing a poem with the backing of the Tongue Fu band, last spring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qtts9cEXbL0

 

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
I should really make a proper promo website, but I’m not great at promotion – I have a mental block about the concept. I’m lucky to have the gigs I do, considering! My videos go up on YouTube at:
https://www.youtube.com/user/Annarakpoet?feature=watch

 

Featured Artist: Scott Tyrrell

Scott_tyrrell2

Photo by Bohdan Piasecki

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
I applied to be considered as a performer at Poetry & Words in 2011 and was lucky enough to be accepted. It was my first time performing poetry at Glastonbury in an official capacity (I once drunkenly performed a hastily written poem called ‘Inflatable Love’ during a friend’s ‘wedding’ in the Chapel of Love in 2002). 

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Expect the best

 

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
A sleep-deprived, trudging, gruelling ordeal you’ll remember as the best ascension into the part of yourself you hitherto never suspected could feel so connected. And I recommend the square pies. And constipation.

 

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
It’s too unfair to single out just two, but I’ll pick one from the South and one from North with the understanding that they are in a pool of lovelies I respect hugely. Firstly Anna Freeman from Bristol – Warmth and honesty are always the first things I connect with in poetry, closely followed by intelligence and the ability to make me laugh out loud. This lass has the quadrilogy, combined with a fierce power and open vulnerability as a performer which puts you – as the audience – in safe hands and in great company. Secondly Ann Porro from Northumberland. Ann is relatively new to the scene but eminently watchable. Her unassuming demeanour as a performer belies a huge intellect and a knack for nailing that acute sideways perspective that makes you go “Damn, I’d wish I’d written that!”

 

Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Sounds lazy, but whatever happens to be going on from the world at war to the anal minutiae of deciphering the ambiguity in any given conversation. I write a lot about parenthood at the moment – the way my son and stepdaughter have forged a version of me I never believed could be so organised. Or furious.

 

Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
It’s a long list of the strange. Promoters think poets are up for the weird. I’m generally quite shy but historically so impressionable that I do wonder whether I’m a schizophrenic exhibitionist. I’ve screamed a poem about the Angel of the North in an open top bus whilst trundling down Gateshead High Street. I’ve performed an ‘Ode to EasyJet’ with Kate Fox over an aircraft tannoy, thirty three thousand feet up for the programme ‘Airline’. And myself, Kate and Mike Garry got cajoled by Kat Francois into performing (without permission or amplification or artificial stimulation) in Stratford East Tube Station during rush hour. It is my belief that given the right amount of persuasion, any one of us is capable of soberly shouting rubbish in the street.

 

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
Juggling the day job (I’m a web designer and illustrator) with family, running and writing. I took a break from performing earlier in the year to build up some new stuff. I’d been performing the same old same old for ages and I was losing the meaning of it. I’m just starting to book the gigs again, so stay tuned for more Tyrrellian stupidity.

 

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
Blancmange. Which my stepdad used to pronounce (in all seriousness) ‘blank-manj’. We didn’t get on.

 

Q9) Can we have a poem please?
This is ‘If You go Down to the Woods’, Written over 10 years ago and performed at Pink Lane Poetry, Newcastle in November 2010. It’s a cheeky little love letter to the Brothers’ Grimm:

 

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
YES, I’m a web designer and NO, I don’t have a website. Crazy and lazy I know, but I will rectify that as soon as I’ve decided which font to write my name in (these things are important). However, there’s a selection of my stuff on YouTube.  And anyone with access to Sky Atlantic can see me perform a poem about Newcastle to the actor Alan Cumming in the repeat of ‘Urban Secrets,’ which will be shown on the evening of Thursday 6th December at 8pm, and again on Sunday 9th at the same time.

 

You can also become my friend on Facebook provided you’re a nice, friendly soul who won’t weird me out. I put new poems in the ‘notes’ section.

 

Featured Artist: John Osborne

John_osborne2

Photo by Bohdan Piasecki

 

Q1) What is your connection with Poetry&Words?
I’ve performed in the Poetry&Words tent twice. In 2011 I did a couple of solo sets there, the previous year I did it as part of Aisle16. I remember that set being really fun; drunk and ramshackle but all the better for it – exactly what festival performances should be.

Q2) If you had to describe the Poetry&Words stage in just three words, what would they be?
Full when raining.

Ed. Ouch!  We’ll let you get away with  that, because we like you;  but we have testimonies and photographs to prove we get a full house in the sunshine too 😉

 

Q3) How would you describe Glastonbury Festival to someone who’s never been there?
It’s actually hard to grasp Glastonbury without going. Certainly watching it on TV doesn’t do it justice. You need to climb to the top of the hill by the stone circle, where the flags are, and look down at its vastness. It’s always a special moment standing at the top of that hill. Even more so in 2013 after having a year off.

 

Q4) Can you name two other poets who you admire?
My favourite poet is Ross Sutherland. I love his books, I love watching him perform. He has more ideas in one poem than most poets do in an entire collection. He’s one of the first poets I ever saw perform and it’s still as much of a treat every time it happens now.


Another poet I really love at the moment is Rob Auton. He runs Bang Said The Gun, the most enjoyable spoken word night in London, and his material is consistently funny, interesting, unique. I love the way he uses a controlled surreal humour; it’s always rooted to the everyday but goes on all sorts of adventures, storytelling and making little worlds out of nothing. His 2012 Edinburgh show was really special too. The Yellow Show. It’s a show about yellow things. He makes me laugh for the same reasons Tim Key, Adam Buxton and Simon Munnery do.

 

Q5) What kinds of things inspire you to write?
Most of the poems I’m most proud of are the ones I’ve written when I’ve had temp jobs. For the last few years I’ve had maybe ten different temp jobs – Norwich Union, Anglia Windows, hotels, offices, insurance companies. If anywhere needs stuff filing, I’ve probably been there. I’ve always got through my day writing poems in notebooks about overheard conversations or people I work with or things that occur to me in that mind numbing state of data entry. There’s definitely something about boring jobs that suits poems. The other thing that inspires me to write is experiencing something special – whether it’s a film or a gig or a book, when something is done incredibly well it’ll remind me of how exciting it is to create things and I’ll start working on something. I quite often write poems when I’m reading poetry or good novels and think ‘I want to have a go myself.’

 

Q6) Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed your work?
At Edinburgh Festival in 2008, me and the poet Luke Wright did a gig in a swimming pool with the comedian Paul Foot. The audience sat on the edge, and we took it in turns to do lengths, or tread water, doing sets. It was so odd. It ended with a big game of volleyball. I remember when we were getting into our trunks in the changing room thinking ‘This is a weird thing to be doing.’

 

Q7) What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished my new book. Don’t Need The Sunshine. It’s published by The AA next year. It’s about British seaside towns. I’ve also recently finished a poetry book, my first full collection, called Most People Aren’t That Happy, Anyway, published by Nasty Little Press. Other than that I’m working on some ideas for Radio 4, another Edinburgh show, and I present a radio show every week with Tim Clare on Future Radio. That’s always the highlight of my week.

 

Q8) What’s the closest rhyme for ‘orange’ you can find?
I’d probably try and incorporate Grange Hill somehow.

 

Q9) Can we have a poem please?

Surprise!

It’s you I feel sorry for.
You hired the room
and when no-one RSVP’d
you assumed my friends were too cool to RSVP
so ordered a finger buffet for fifty.
My surprise birthday party:
four of us,
me and you, your mum and dad.
When I told you once I don’t like the idea of surprise parties
this was the kind of thing I had in mind.

“Maybe I put the wrong date on the invitations,” you said,
as the waiter offered us yet more crabsticks.
We both knew you’d have triple-checked.
“Not even Graham,” you said.
“Graham plays squash on Wednesdays,” I said
and blew out the candles on the cake.

Under the table were bottles of wine,
thirty red and thirty white.
There wasn’t even the chance to get a refund;
the receipt was in your handbag that had been snatched that morning.

By the time we sang the happy birthday song
the waiter was so pissed he’ll probably be fired
but anyone who can dance like that
is wasted in catering.

“What’s it like not to have any friends?” your dad asked
and we all laughed apart from your mum
who still had her coat on.
“Maybe there’s something good on the telly,” he said.
I’ve never liked your dad
but last night he played a blinder
juggling satsumas as we looked out the window.

It wasn’t a special birthday.
I was 29, a prime number.
No-one gets excited about prime numbers,
but it reminded me of the time I was at Graham’s house
when I pulled down my trousers and pants
and showed everyone the massive bruise on my knob.
I just thought more people would be interested.

 

Q10) Where can we find out more about your work?
www.johnosbornewriter.com